Agency Lessons

Personal Preference. It's the coffin nail of the querying writer. If you've spent any amount of time in the query trenches you probably received this little gem in your inbox once or twice. It comes from the agent who tells you they enjoyed your story, or that your writing is strong, or any other very nice words that are all followed by "but". As in I liked your story, but...

I used to think the old "your ms just isn't for me" response was nothing more than a fancy no. And for some agents, it is a part of their form rejection. But this week I realized the "not for me" answer isn't always easy.

I read not one, but two submissions that were good. The writing was good and free of errors. The story line was interesting and I was excited to dive in and read. But at the end of the day, neither manuscript won me over. Why?

Sure, there are things I could point to as needing improvement, but someone from another agency might see them as easy fixes in an otherwise good manuscript. In fact, someone else might take a look and fall in love. And at the end of the day, that's what you want your agent to do.

Have you ever read a book, that was just okay, but everyone and their uncle thought it was the best thing since sliced bread? Now imagine it was your job to sell that book to everyone who hadn't read it yet. It's doubtful you'd be very good at it. If it was your book being sold, wouldn't you rather have a fangirl working to get your book into the hands of readers.

It's frustrating getting a query response with positive feedback followed by the enormous 'but'. There's nothing you can point to and fix to make the story better. But at the end of the day, you don't want an agent who only thinks you have a good story. You want your agent to LURVE your book.