My bare-knuckle brawl with a troll.

This is by no means a fresh rejection. It’s several months old, which is why I feel comfortable exposing it to anyone who stumbles across this page (which would most likely be someone who happens to like Jane Eyre and cupcakes, which I recognize might not make for a highly populated Venn diagram). When I first receive a rejection, I have to admit that I don’t make it through the entire letter. My brain pretty much goes “uh-oh” and I attempt to distract myself with something shiny like planning for my trip to Peru … or a cupcake. I always come back to the letter, though, hoping for some insight into what I can do better the next time. Unfortunately, most agents are far too busy to offer each first-time author they come across an in-depth assessment of what they view as a book’s strengths and weaknesses based on a one-page query, and possibly a one to two-page synopsis.

Bear in mind that I don’t post rejections as a means of scaring new writers away from trying, or somehow sticking it to the agents or publishers who turn me down (I somehow doubt the contents of a first-time author’s website are the stuff of a literary agent’s nightmares anyhow). I think I’m mostly proud of myself for processing what once represented a serious emotional blow and coming out the other side with a sense of humor about the whole process. And, admittedly, there is a small part of me that hopes to see one of my books take off so future authors can point to the rejections on this blog as evidence that perseverance and talent can win the day. When I first began to realize just how difficult it was to barrel your way into the publishing industry people would cite JK Rowling as inspiration. Apparently she was rejected by several publishers before finding a home for the first Harry Potter book. Of course, that was nearly 20 years ago, and the industry was very different.

I can’t help but wish that I was older. I don’t believe that I came to writing late in life. In fact, I consider twenty-nine a very respectable age to begin one’s publishing career (unless you’re Mary Shelley, publishing Frankenstein at the age of twenty-one). But I feel as though I matured and came to the table as the feast was already ending and all that are left are scraps, and a mere crumb can only be secured after a bare-knuckle brawl with a troll. Don’t read this to mean that I’m going to throw myself a pity party. Far from it. If it’s a bare-knuckle brawl with a troll that stands between me and publishing, then I’m going to swath myself in bubble wrap, stash a mace or nunchucks on my person (anything to give me an edge), and kick the troll’s hairy ass. (I assume trolls have hairy asses. Or scaly, perhaps? In any case, I’m sure a troll’s ass is an unattractive sight, and it will be even less so when I’m through with it.) With the mental image of a twenty-nine-year-old nerd wearing a cat t-shirt fighting an imaginary troll into submission, please red the following very polite rejection letter:

Dear Ms. Schwellenbach,

I have received and reviewed your query for your manuscript. I greatly appreciate you sending your ideas to us for consideration. However, because of the number of submissions our agency receives, we often are not able to take on clients who merit publication. While I believe that your ideas might have market appeal, I am not convinced that we could represent it successfully at this time.

Thank you for considering Serendipity Literary Agency. I wish you the best of luck in all your future writing endeavors!

Ayanna Coleman

Associate Agent

Serendipity Literary Agency


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