I'm going to talk a little about my experience with being rejected by agents and publishers. To keep it on the professional side I won't name any specific group or give actual text from letters. But I figure it has to help someone to know about the process during the submission period.
12 for THE ICE ENCHANTRESS'S PLOT
46 for THE PSYCHIC STORY
27 for THE CHOSEN FOUR (ON THE DAWNING)
~15 from publishers, 70 from agents
5 total (for THE PSYCHIC STORY)
2 full manuscript requests
2 total (agencies)
1 scam weeded out by P+E (since then, I've checked before sending out)
1 real agency
Cool story, right? Well, let's elaborate a little more on that. Eighty-five rejections, that's legit, right? I think so. Do you want to know more about how they were? Well, unfortunately, I can't tell you that much about what the actual text says, not only because I'm trying to be "professional", but also because I didn't keep them. Any of them.
Yeah, I know. You hear lots of stories about how different authors kept records of their rejections, put them on walls, kept them in files. But the things is, most rejection letters are the same: form letters. They all say pretty much the same thing: "We're sorry, but we cannot accept your submission at this time. Good luck with your further endeavors."
This is a pet peeve of many writers, who want more personal affectation. Agents, though, argue that they can't spend all the time on personalizing letters. They have a point, honestly, and I think it's easier just to have it said and done. When someone actually adds something, something they liked, something to fix, or speak in a way that seems more kind or open, it's really quite nice, of course. I've gotten a few of those letters, but only a few. It's easier for agents to just say "Nope." And I'm OK with that... except for when they send the "nope" letter a day after you sent the query. Then it just feels rude.
Additionally, the majority of letters I've gotten are through e-mail. Printing all those out would have been ridiculous.
But most commonly of all, the majority of rejections don't even come in a letter form. Most of them are simply of the kind where the agent/publisher doesn't reply at all. I call that an "OIL" rejection. "Only If Liked" will they reply. Those are honestly annoying. I can see why they have to do that, but it's awful to wait around for weeks or months for nothing to come.
The worst rejection letters I've gotten, however, were the ones where they insulted my age. Yes, when I began sending out, I was twelve. I don't blame them for rejecting me. But why (and this happened for years) did they find it necessary to outright tell me I was too young to be published?
It's not true. Young writers get published. Rarely, but it happens. I spent all of my childhood in my writing career as an advocate for young writers, for our publication and acceptance and growth. This was an issue completely vital to me, and yet, at least three of my rejections specifically said I could not be taken on because I was too young. Not because my writing was bad, but because I was young.
But to move on to my requests... I know, I don't have a fantastic rate there. Although it's gratifying to see that the book where I got the most rejections is also the one with the most requests. Bigger numbers gives you bigger odds, right? Anyway, requests for more material, especially full manuscript requests, are exciting. It means you've broken through a little. But they, too, lend themselves to rejection...
...unless you get fully accepted as a client. In my case, my first acceptance was by a scam company. That got obvious real fast, what with their oddly written letter and the random animated talking head on their website. Preditors and Editors, as I said, ultimately revealed that one, and from that moment on, I went to P+E before I sent out to an agent or publisher.
But yes, I was accepted for real one time. As is obvious from my lack of publish-ment, it didn't work out. Nonetheless, it was a great experience. I'm not going to actually name the agency that accepted me, simply because I'm not sure of the etiquette in such a situation, but rest assured, there was an agency, and it accepted me. We'll call it Potato, because that's my favorite word right now.
So said Potato Agency accepted me, but with severe reservations. And why? Because of my age.
I was fifteen.
Maybe it's just me (I am only nineteen now), but that doesn't seem so young to me. I mean, it's young, but it's not young, like when I started. But Potato Agency was worried that I would be too fragile to take critique. They kept telling me over and over that editing is hard, that they would be ripping into my writing and asking me to change things. And I kept saying over and over that yeah, I knew that, what did they think I thought would happen? I'd been in a critique group for over two years at that point. I'd edited and sweated and worked and blah blah blah over my novels. I knew how it worked. I was a professional, even at fifteen.
So it went. We got straight into editing, and it was hard, but I'd expected that. We edited three chapters of THE PSYCHIC STORY, and in those three chapters, I learned a whole freaking lot--that Mandy needed more depth and voice, that you're not supposed to use the Tab key in manuscripts, and most of all, that I have serious passive voice problems. The word "was" is my enemy. I learned that it is very common to question what the heck your agent is doing, because you feel like they're destroying your artistic point. And I learned that it's a thin line to walk, but an important one.
Three chapters in, Potato Agency stopped responding to my e-mails. I waited a good couple months, and Potato Agency said nothing. So I finally, sadly, decided they'd given up on me and told them it'd be better if we parted ways and I went back to searching for an agent. They never replied to that e-mail, so I spent years believing they'd just abandoned me--until this year, when I found out the entire agency had shut down right at the moment they stopped e-mailing me. Nice of them to inform me, although I suppose there were more important things on their minds.