Rejection Letter Blues & A Request For Some Advice...

Got another rejection letter today, but at least this agent appears to have actually read the materials that were sent, which says something. That makes about five out of the dozen that I've applied to over the last few weeks, the rest haven't answered yet, and most of them probably won't if they feel the same lack of enthusiasm as the last agent had.

It does raise a question. Should I mention that the novel was recommended twice by editors at a major genre publishing company only to be held back for the past four years by circumstances outside the control of myself or the editors in question?

I have kept myself from doing that this round, because I mentioned it once to one agent, and he rejected the whole thing before he could even read what the book was about. That made me think that it must somehow scare off potential agents.

Does anyone have any advice on this issue?

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Comment by I. J. Parker on August 2, 2009 at 12:49am
That pretty much illustrates why you shouldn't give exclusives without a deadline. It may also illustrate why it's best to have an agent first. The agent could have kept things moving in a timely fashion.
I suppose you could mention that the editor at so-and-so was interested but the deal ultimately fell through. Once you've landed the agent, he/she will know who has seen the ms.
Comment by Jack Getze on August 1, 2009 at 8:09pm
Four years with this publishing house, waiting to be offered a contract?
I don't know. Seems like you might want to mention this to a prospective agent if your manuscript is still with that publisher. Heck, maybe the agent even knows the foot-dragging new boss personally. Honesty and trust are extremely important to agents: You want to give him/her all the facts about a manuscript you're asking them to take on. JMHO
Comment by Pepper Smith on August 1, 2009 at 1:45pm
After four years, it would be like a new submission anyway. Editors seem to move around from publishing house to publishing house, or move on to better paying jobs. You could probably leave it out without problems, and mention it only if the agent brings it up.
Comment by D.R. MacMaster on August 1, 2009 at 1:16pm
I'm just going to leave it out. It seems to complicate things anyway.
Comment by D.R. MacMaster on August 1, 2009 at 12:52pm
Two different editors recommended to their publisher to publish the book. However, the first publisher died before he read it, putting the book in limbo. A second editor with the company found it, read it, and recommended it to the company's new publisher for publication, but the replacement publisher doesn't believe in seniority, giving it any priority, and has been letting it gather dust in their inbox for about the past 15 months.

I only submitted it to this one company, because they insisted on an exclusive submission. The second editor told me that I should forget the exclusive rule and get an agent or another publisher interested because the company's kept me hanging for 4 years.

And 12 queries is just this round so far. I've done about 30 over the past year or so, and that's not counting the time wasted trying to find an agent in Canada. I will keep going, and I'm digging up new names every day.
Comment by Benjamin Sobieck on August 1, 2009 at 12:37pm
I wouldn't mention it. It's like a chef saying, "My guests didn't order anything at my restaurant, but they would recommend it." Stick to developing your approach in the query letter. Query Shark is a good resource for things not to do.

P.S. At only 12 queries, there's still plenty of room to not give up hope. My full request came two months and 50 or so queries.
Comment by Pepper Smith on August 1, 2009 at 10:31am
If an agent thinks your book has been out on submission to editors before, he or she may very well reject it out of hand, because editors hate it when they've been sent a manuscript they've already seen once. The agents may feel there's nowhere left to send it, and won't want to waste their effort. (If it has been out on submission to a bunch of editors, don't fib about it. Your agent will want to dump you, if he or she discovers you haven't been honest with them.)

If, however, it wasn't out on submission to a bunch of editors but was only looked at at one house, you need to mention that. There are other options open to them, in that case. Make sure the reasons the book was held back are clear in your explanation. You may still not get any bites, but the agents will appreciate your honesty and may remember you favorably next time you've got something you're wanting to submit.
Comment by Jack Getze on August 1, 2009 at 9:58am
Like to help, DR, but I don't understand. What do you mean, the novel was recommended by editors? Did these editors make an offer to publish?

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