If they were good, why did I say no? Because, while they were really good, I didn’t get that gut reaction I look for. The pull that doesn’t allow me to put the submission down long enough to even leave my desk for a glass of water.
So it’s my own fault if I turn down a project and then find another agent has snapped it up and found a bestseller? Absolutely. And that often drives me crazy, but it is what it is. I have to be so fully behind a book that I just can’t wait to share it with an editor, convinced they will be as excited to present it to their acquisitions board.
That happened this weekend with two amazing books. And I might find that I want to kick myself in the behind in the near future. I’m already second guessing myself. How does it happen that I turn it down?
It goes something like this: I love the proposal so I request the full manuscript. As I sit down to dig in, I find myself wandering. Hmm, maybe I should check my email and see if that editor has responded. I have a rewards coupon coming from A, B, or C. And I might want to use it later today. Oops, back to the story. Man this is good! I wonder if the kids are coming for dinner on Sunday. Wow, she really writes that alpha male so well. Gorgeous eyes, muscles straining against the shirt. Great characters. Shirts? I think Kohl’s had men’s shirts on sale starting Wednesday. Maybe I should check on some shirts for my husband. Husbands, romance novels. Better get back to the story. I do have one other proposal I need to finish reading. Maybe I’ll check that one out for a few minutes and then get back to muscle guy.
And that’s what happens. I keep trying because I like the story really well, or maybe it’s the characters that have me wanting to love this story, but something just isn’t there. My gut doesn’t keep me reading no matter what else is happening in my life, and I don’t understand why. All of the elements are really good. Great characters, wonderful story line, really good writing. What? Am I crazy? That’s another whole blog or two.
I write the ‘not this time’ note and maybe make a few suggestions. Kick myself a time or two and get on to the next submission. What I have to remember is: lots of readers love Jane Austen—lots of others don’t. It doesn’t take away from Jane Austen. And other times, I simply am not having much luck with a certain type of submission. It might be the best I’ve ever read in that genre, but if I can’t get that genre to move, I’m not going to take on another author writing it. I’ll be honest, it just kills me to say no to so many wonderful projects, but so far, I’ve trusted the gut. And the couple times I didn’t, I wasn’t able to help the person at all.
So there you have it. I’ve turned down, and will turn down, amazing projects that have and will go on to do well with another agent. At first, it makes me a little crazy to see the book getting hundreds of rave reviews, but then again, I am so happy for the writers because I just didn’t have what I needed to make it happen for them.
Authors, remember this. Each rejection is one step closer to publication!