from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Posts Tagged ‘rejection

Rejection #7: First of Round Three

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I’ve started my agent search once again–my third attempt after yet another major re-write. I spent my time at the coffee shop last week in sending out query after query, and early this morning, at 3:42 am, I was roused from my slumber by the annoying, tinny alert on my phone indicating that I got an e-mail. Through bleary eyes, I read my first rejection of this round.

Dear Holden,

Many thanks for querying me with THE ACCIDENTAL CITIZEN SOLDIER. This certainly sounds like an interesting premise for a memoir, but I’m sorry to say it’s not quite right for my list at this time. I appreciate your trying me though and hope you find the right home for your work very soon.

My best, [agent name]
Oh well. I’ve broken the seal for this round, and the one thing I am grateful for is that at least they replied promptly. Rejections don’t get me down; I expect to be rejected by most agents. I’ve queried somewhere between 30-40 agents so far, and there has been some interest along the way. It’s a long road ahead (I’m not even halfway there according to this article), but it’s the road I’ve chosen. And if nothing happens by the end of the year, I will probably take a detour and go the self-publishing route on this one.

Rejection #6: The Longest So Far

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When I woke this morning, I had a reply from an agent waiting in my inbox.

Dear Mr. Beck,

My name is [assistant name], and I’m [agent name]’s assistant at [agency name]. Thank you very much for your query and patience–we sincerely apologize for not responding sooner, but due to the sheer volume of queries we receive, we find it difficult to get to all of them in a timely manner.

We just reviewed your submission, and after conferring with senior members of the agency, I regret to inform you we are going to have to pass on The Accidental Citizen Soldier. We read your query with interest, but we’re afraid your project does not fit our current list, as [agent name] isn’t looking to acquire any memoir titles at the moment. Please do not despair–we are confident that with your talents and some perseverance, your book will find a home with the right agent.

Of course, our opinions are entirely subjective and other agencies may feel differently. I encourage you to query widely, as you never know who will feel that “spark” for your book as it currently stands. We appreciate the opportunity to consider your work and wish you the best of luck finding representation.


[assistant name]

[assistant name], Assistant

[agency name]

After I read the rejection in full, I wasn’t even upset. So what if the rejection is three months late? So what if the agent’s website said she was looking for memoir? It feels like there was a lot of effort taken in writing this e-mail, perhaps more effort than I put in my queries.

It’s possible that this is the assistant’s standard form rejection, and if it is, this guy (lady? The assistant’s name is gender-ambiguous) is a fucking genius. If this was a sincerely written reply by an earnest young assistant, I would tell him (her?) to go ahead and use it for a standard form rejection. All it would take is replace my name and title of my book with whomever the agent was rejecting at the moment.

Yes, I’d rather get a lengthy standard rejection like this that seems sincere than a short, seven-word rejection that is clearly sincere. Why? Because the agent-writer dynamic in the query process is severely skewed toward the agent. The agent doesn’t have to write a polite rejection. The agent doesn’t have to write a rejection at all. At least the former tells the writer the agent has manners. The latter tells the writer that this book that you’ve worked years on is only worth seven of my words.

[Hospital update] I’m still in the hospital. Week 12. I’ve started writing again, mostly out of sheer boredom. But I’ve also started smoking and having my daily coffee and sneaking shots of whisky at night, all of which help my creative process.

Random #19: Progress, I Think

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I sent out three queries to agents last week, which is not a large number by any account. It’s a pretty trifling number, actually. Trifling, but more than enough to make me want to shoot myself in the face. It’s a lot more work than it would seem, and if the eventual result was just going to be flat-out rejection, the road ahead looked bleak indeed. I don’t handle rejection well. I don’t handle work well, either.

If you have ever gone to a swimming pool or the beach with me—it’s rare because I can’t swim and am a bit of a hydrophobe—you’ll know that it takes a lot of coaxing to get me into the water. Not only because I’m scared of drowning—I’ve come close at least two or three times—but because my body is also unnaturally sensitive to cold temperatures. Warmth is relative, and my warm is another man’s scalding. Unless it’s a hot tub, it’s never as warm as my friends might tell me. Instead, I take my time, starting with my toes. Splashing me, assholes, will only reset the process. I slowly submerge my body until my core gets accustomed to the temperature. Then I’ll wade around the pool for ten minutes and call it a day.

That’s what my three queries were, my toes in the pool. I didn’t send out any this week, mostly because I’ve been busy with classes starting up again but also because I haven’t received any responses to those three queries and Krystn has been advising me not to send anymore until I’m sure my manuscript is solid. Decent, maybe. Solid, if the reader is extremely generous. A masterpiece, not even close.

So when I got my first response this afternoon, I wasn’t expecting much. At most, I expected to be able to post an entry in the rejections category. I realize that the way I’ve been putting it, you might think I have good news. Think again.

Here is the email.

Please email along the first 40 pages of the ms with this query pasted to the top.


[Assistant’s name]
Agents’ Assistant

One line (and one word). The good news is that it wasn’t a one-line rejection. It has promise. My work is another story.

These past few days, I’ve taken apart my first chapter in order to reconstruct it. Now I have to hastily put it back together and send it along with my second chapter. Fuck.

Written by Young

November 4, 2010 at 4:57 pm

Rejection #1

with 2 comments

I woke up this afternoon—I need to stop drinking—to my first rejection e-mail.

Hi, Holden, 

Thank you for your query. While your project certainly has merit, I’m just not wild enough about what I’ve read to ask for more. As I’m sure you know, it’s important that your agent be totally excited by/committed to/passionate about your project, and I’m afraid that just didn’t happen here. But opinions vary considerably in this business, and mine is just one. I’m sure you’ll find others who feel differently. I hope so!

I wish you the very best in your search for representation.

Warm regards,

[Agent’s name]

[Agency’s name] Literary Agency

It’s not hard to figure out who it was since I’ve only sent a query to one agent. It’s not surprising because I sent it prematurely—is it a big problem among aspiring writers?—and as befits the metaphor, both she and I left the experience disappointed.

Oh well. Hopefully I’ll have more luck tomorrow. Today I need a drink.

Written by Young

April 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm