A Gent's Outlook

A Literary Agent Divulges the TRUTH about Publishing

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

No Means No

Thanks, Naomi Gluckstein, for your response to my rant. I am glad you brought this up. Brought what up, you might ask? Well, in Naomi’s comment, she mentioned the following:

“the big rejection, despite, quote: well drawn characters; excellent dialogue, fast moving, good plotting. Ho hum. What was wrong with it, er, well, I had two heros and two heroines... major and minor. Perhaps it was guilt, but they asked to see my second manuscript - not quite so long to wait this time, only 18 months. Then the famous email: good dialogue, well drawn characters but pace a bit slow. And that was it.”

At this point, I want to point out something that many writers snivel about--not that you are sniveling, Naomi, but your comment brought this to my mind and I had to post on it—and that is what those rejections really mean. Agent 007 did a post on this, but let me reiterate my position on rejections: If an editor or agent is truly interested in your stuff, he/she will offer a contract, offer representation, or ask for a revision. Otherwise, that rejection note means just that—your work is rejected. It wouldn’t matter how many heroes you had; that can be revised. All of the items mentioned could be revised. If there is no offer for revision, then there is no interest…period. I have seen many writers who hold onto their rejection letters like they are scraps of gold. No means no, so move on to the next victim, er, agent.

I know some folks like to say, well, you are getting closer because you are getting hand-written notes or personal rejections. Bullshit. Keep in mind that most editors’ lists are full, and in order to get on one, your shit has to outdick all the others on the list. Remember this, all—in this biz, your work is either accepted or rejected. There is no middle ground here--no almost--only desperate writers eager for some kind of encouragement who are trying to decipher a code that doesn’t exist in a letter designed to do one thing and one thing only: Say “No.”


  • At 4:35 PM, Blogger Peter L. Winkler said…

    A solid post, at last! Writers spend so much time trying to divine the secret meaning of rejection letters when, as you have pointed out, there isn't any.

  • At 1:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Of course No means No - I was not querying anyone's right to say it either, my main objection (and one which I think even you might agree with)is that it took a total of 5 years to say it!


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