Queries

This week’s query count came in at 98(!) — 33 unsolicited packages and 65 letters. I also got a couple of solicited packages to add to the pile of manuscripts to be read. (This does not count those people who refuse to understand that when my guidelines say I don’t respond to email queries, that I mean them. *wry smile*)

Meanwhile…. over on this thread, bgliterary asked me: can you elaborate on what you look for in a query letter? I imagine publication credits certainly, and an intriguing brief synopsis of some sort…but what is it that tells you that this manuscript is worth requesting? I know this isn’t an easy fill-in-the blank answer, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

And last week, Tempest (whom I want to say I met at Torcon? and is hooked up with those OWW people, I believe) had asked me if I’d be willing to do something of that sort for her site: For Writers. I replied in the affirmative today, so over the weekend, I’m going to try and sit down and quantify it. If anyone has any comments to add or ideas they want me to consider as I go at it, feel free to offer them up….


Addendum: To the writers out there… Out of curiousity — since I’m thinking both about what I want in a query (half-full) and why I reject things most often (half-empty), what is the most frustrating rejection you’ve ever gotten, and why?

44 responses to “Queries

  1. The most frustrating rejections are the ones that say, “This is very good; I’m sure you’ll sell it. But not to me.” *g*
    Because if there’s something *wrong* with a story I can possibly fix it. If the editor just doesn’t *want* it, even though it’s been deemed good enough, it makes me want to sulk and scream “What do you want, damn you? Nudie pictures?”
    *g*

    • You know, I don’t mind that sort so much. I mean, yeah, you want to shake the editor around until they spit up the reason why it’s not ‘for them’, but at least you get a ‘hey, this is good, too bad I don’t want it’ note.
      The ones that frustrate me? Form rejections. Not just any form rejections. I understand the need. No, I mean form rejections addressed to ‘Author’.
      That aren’t signed.
      And have been photocopied, crooked, onto a piece of paper.
      And the photocopy’s faded.
      Grr.

      • See? And those don’t bother me in the slightest, because they tell me that the editor didn’t read past the second page, and I’m cool with that.

      • Okay — I gotta ask this — ’cause, though I’m told it’s quite friendly by industry standards, my form rejection is addressed to “Author:” and is xeroxed (though generally not crookedly). What denotes a form rejection? *curious* The minute you sit down and start typing something, by my mark it’s no longer a form letter, even if you’re using a few stock phrases that apply. It’s already something where I’m going to say something at least somewhat specific to that submission.

        • I’ve got one of your form rejections, Jennifer, and as they go, yours is not objectionable.
          What makes a form rejection? What Laura said below. Form rejections usually say ‘your manuscript may have been rejected for one of the following reasons: weak voice, weak plot, failure to follow standard manuscript guidelines’, etc. They’re the form letters that not only don’t tell you what the problem was, but they don’t even narrow it down.

      • I think I agree with here. It’s the “I love this story, but I’m not going to buy it” rejections that are most frustrating. At that point it’s as much a matter of individual tastes as of craft, and there’s not much to be done.
        Well, I take that back. “I love this story, I took it to acquisitions, and they’re not going to buy it” is even more frustrating.

        • Well, I take that back. “I love this story, I took it to acquisitions, and they’re not going to buy it” is even more frustrating.
          I can grok this one. Stupid corporate publishing. Urgh.

    • *laugh*! Ahem. *laugh* *giggle* Ahem. *laugh* That made me happy. 🙂
      I guess I don’t really find rejection letters all that frustrating. Disappointing, and the ones that say, “We rejected this for the following reasons,” are much superior to form rejections, but even the, “This is very good, you’ll sell it to someone who isn’t me,” I find to be mostly supportive. I can buy that something’s not right for the house I sent it to, so I think it’s nice to be told “this has great potential for somebody else”.
      Actually, if there’s anything I really find frustrating with rejection letters, it’s how long they generally take to arrive. And that has nothing to do with the letter itself. 🙂

      • Actually, if there’s anything I really find frustrating with rejection letters, it’s how long they generally take to arrive.
        So….what do you think is a reasonable amount of time for consideration and reply? I know on initial queries I’m usually good at answering within two weeks now (though not during holidays). On requested partials and manuscripts, I take much longer and my response time varies wildly.

        • I have to break this into two parts, because I got carried away and it’s an *awfully* long response, and LJ wouldn’t let me post it in all one reply. So, part the first:
          Yoooooou were wonderfully fast with rejecting my query letter. You claimed two weeks and it took like 10 days. That’s a thing of beauty. Y’know, not as *much* of a thing of beauty as asking for a partial would’ve been, but a thing of beauty anyway. 🙂
          *sigh* It’s a hard question. I’d love to see responses — whether from editors or agents — within a month. It reduces the angst and the chilled hands when you go to check the mailbox. Above all, though, I think what I’d like best is for the guidelines for individual houses/agents to be posted and to be *accurate*.
          If somebody’s guidelines say they’ll take 4-6 months to reply, okay, I can live with that. It’s when the stated response time passes six months and hits nine, or twelve, without any kind of answer, that panic sets in. One doesn’t want to *nag*, but good *God*, what’s going *on*? Has the building imploded? Have several key people died? Is your partial so very good that they keep passing it around the office, but have somehow failed to actually ask for the whole book? Worse, is it so bad it’s been turned into kitty litter and forgotten about? What’s going *on*?
          It’s not having any understanding what ‘a quick turnaround’ is, if someone in a publishing house tells you they want to do a quick turnaround on something. It’s seeing that a query letter/partial submission will be (at least theoretically) responded to in 6 months, but having no equivilant information on how long it might take to get a response on a requested manuscript.
          It’s the utter lack of control. As an unpublished/unagented author, when you’re sending things out, you’re completely out of control. You write the best story you can, of course, and you format your manuscript properly, and you put it in the mail and at that point someone has the ability to break your heart and crush your dreams. You’re desperate not to offend anybody, but you don’t *understand* the process that’s going on, on the other end. You hear about hideous slushpiles and know your manuscript is in there somewhere, but even if you appreciate the fact that editors and agents have a lot more to do than just read the slushpile, when the stated time for a response comes and goes … and goes… and goes… and *goes*… and there’s not a great deal you can really do about it. We all read TNH’s blog and see that once in a while someone does something clever like sends her manuscript an anniversary card, but — well, that’s been done now, are you really sure you want to be the next in a flood of anniversary cards? At what point does that cease being a clever way to get attention and become an irritating gimmick?
          Literally the only thing you’ve got, as a beginning writer, are the times claimed, either on a website or in the Writer’s Market or — those are really the only places I can think of — as to how long it’s going to take to respond to your submission. If the publishing house or agent, for whatever reason, doesn’t respond within that time, you feel like you’ve got *nothing*. It may be a very weak contract, but it’s all a beginning writer has, and if it’s broken, you really have no idea how to respond. *That’s* the frustrating thing about rejection, to me, and it’s not really even about rejection.

        • And part the second:
          How to deal with it? That, I’m not sure about. In a perfect world — well, in a perfect world an editor or agent would always be able to get responses out within the stated time period. 🙂
          In a slightly less perfect world, a system that allowed for, “Hey, Jr.’s book has been here 5 months and 2 weeks, send him a postcard to let him know the ms hasn’t been lost, at least” would be *so* much better than the uncertainty. I do understand the flaws with this — it requires manpower to flag incoming submissions — but boy, from the writer’s side of thing, which feels very powerless, it’d be nice to have something like that in place. Anything that says, “You have not been entirely forgotten, grasshopper.”
          If you know your response times vary wildly on requested mss and partials, as the person sending those in to you, I’d *much* rather hear, “It will probably take three months for me to respond to this; it may take six (or whatever the absolute upper limit of your response time is),” than to hear nothing or to just not know. Without the information you (or an editor, or whomever) gives me, I have absolutely *no* way to reasonably guess at what point it might be okay to send an email or a letter or a phone call (and which of those is most appropriate is also a piece of information that, for a writer, is invaluable) to say, “I submitted X to you on Y date; could you tell me its status?”
          And once more, from the writer point of view, you feel terribly out of control and out of power. It’s *desperately* important to Not Offend The Agent, or The Editor (even if that importance/chance of offense is mostly in the writer’s mind, it’s still *there*). You *want* to build a good relationship, and you also want to know what’s going on. Because all the power (percieved or otherwise) is on the editor/agent’s side, literally *any* information I’m given is going to be tremendously important to me.
          This has gotten rather a long way away from the original question asked, hasn’t it? And sadly, it doesn’t even count for my wordcount for the day, ’cause it’s not fiction. 🙂
          Apparently what I’m coming down to here is: I will accept almost any sort of response time as being legitimate, but when I’m given that response time as my window of expectation, I will *believe* that it’s the amount of time it will take. If it turns out, for any reason, that it’s going to take longer, I’m all right with that — but I want to be told. It’s the *not knowing* that’s worst, so *any* communication makes me, as a writer, less frantic and more willing to take the deep breaths and practice the mantras and accept that, yes, okay, agents and editors have other things to do besides answer query letters and read manuscripts.
          So, um. *big eyes* Did that answer your question? *laugh*

    • “What do you want, damn you? Nudie pictures?”
      Considering who some of these editors are – that’s just *too* disturbing. *g*

      • *nod*
        And frankly, most rejection I pretty much roll over cheerfully, at this point. The only ones I get even slightly stung by are the ones where I got up hope, and even those can be laid to rest by a brief whinge or a cup of tea.
        When I say ‘frustrated,’ I think I mean frustrated with myself–because I am a control freak. And I would much rather be rejected for something I can fix than for amorphous not-right-for-markethood.
        That said, I’m reasonably certain that I will never sell a story to a certain Big Five market, simply because my stuff is too emotional for the editor in question, who has publically admitted that stories that rely on an emotional response for the resolution make him uncomfortable. But I still send hims stories, because dude, it’s not my job to reject myself.

        • You know, my first thought is, how do you manage a resolution without some emotional response as part of it?
          Which is too simplsitic, of course. But to me (as a reader) a story without an emotional arc has a much harder time being a story that interests me.

    • I second this. My most frustrating rejections have been second-time-around rejections; where an editor says, ‘I like it except for that’ and you fix ‘that’ and send it back and it comes back again as ‘well, now it’s better but it’s still not for me.’
      It’s confusing to be told what the possible problem is, spend the time fixing it and then find out it’s not the problem after all. No, not confusing. Frustrating. 🙂

    • This is my frustrating rejection type, too, and part of what makes it frustrating is that they have no idea where else I’ve already subbed the story. I just howl, “Wheeeeeeere? How would you knoooooow?”

  2. naming names
    Two, specifically. One from Kris Rusch when she as at F&SF saying she loved a piece but it made her want to read the novel, not publish it as a novella. And one, more recently, from Ellen Datlow, who said something was the best she’d seen from me yet, she really liked it, but…
    *hitting head against desk*
    I don’t mind the form letters so much, because I’ve used them myself in the past. I do mind the ones that say they’re rejecting the story for reasons that aren’t valid (i.e. ‘didn’t follow formatting rules’ or ‘was too long for our guidelines.’)

  3. When I was a young, eager, and very bad poet, I was happy to receive a hand-written rejection, until I read it. It said: “This has all the subtlety of a sledge hammer”. That was it.
    I’d say, if you’re going to add a personal touch, be constructive. Otherwise, I’d much rather get a form letter.
    As an aside, I bumped into this ex-editor reciting his own poetry earlier this year. Even a decade later, I remembered that rejection he gave me, and can’t really be sure if his poetry is pompous and over-inflated, or if I just still want it to be. It was good enough that I could at least restrain myself from loudly comparing his poetry to various blunt instruments, but the thought of doing so made me smile a little. Heck, it’s making me smile a little now.

  4. “We really like your writing style, but you aren’t saying anything.”
    I mean, ouch. It’s a lot easier to fix prose than content.

  5. >what is the most frustrating rejection you’ve ever gotten, and why?
    A rejection that came after two long conversations, a back and forth, and me sending the synopis, the reading of which led said agent to request the entire novel.
    The synopsis (this is “Weaver”) is very specific. I’m assuming the agent in question read the synopsis in English, since I only sent one, written in English. We apparently speak different languages, though, because she then rejected it with the comment “I was sort of expecting a thriller! You know, a corpse on page one – shootings – sexy – that kind of thing.”
    Um, whaaaaaa….?
    I can’t help wondering whose synopsis she was reading? Because it sure as hell wasn’t mine.

  6. So glad you asked. Why, just last week I got a great one of these.
    In June 2003 I sent a query with sample chapters to a certain publisher (an e-pub who also does POD). In July they requested the full manuscript. I sent it along. In November, having heard nothing, I emailed to say, “Um…?” They said, “Hey, sorry! Lost everything in an email glitch. Could you send it again?” Okay, it happens. I sent it again.
    Last week, having heard nothing since then, I emailed to say, “Sorry to be a pest, but, um…?” And they answered…
    “We are not receiving submissions at this time.”
    “Yes, right” (I said), “I see from your site that as of January 1, 2004, you are not receiving submissions. However, you asked to see this manuscript last summer. I’m a little confused.”
    They answered that they wouldn’t be able to publish it this year or next year, so they recommend I take “this very good story” elsewhere. So, my final question – which I’m not going to bother them with – is: were they ever going to tell me that, or were they just going to leave me hanging? ‘Cause I really would have appreciated the chance to be querying other agents/publishers during the last SEVEN MONTHS, had I known. Ugh.
    Here’s the weird postscript to this story: I saw your name when I came over to your journal to answer this, and it looked familiar. So I looked it up, and, yep, sure enough, you turned down that same novel, back in 2001. 🙂 Small world! I should probably give up on this one, eh? Heh.

    • Here’s the weird postscript to this story: I saw your name when I came over to your journal to answer this, and it looked familiar. So I looked it up, and, yep, sure enough, you turned down that same novel, back in 2001. 🙂 Small world! I should probably give up on this one, eh? Heh.
      Okay….the number of you who have previously corresponded with me is becoming increasingly disturbing. *laugh* Anyway…um…seriously…if you believe in this story and in this book…Do. Not. Give. Up. On. It. Yes, it’s possible maybe it needs something more (or something less) to be saleable. But by putting it out there, you are ahead of many other writers who say “I want to be a writer” and never submit. Plus — any opinion you get (even if it’s mine) is only one opinion. Take what works. Go from there.

      • You must be highly visible in the web searches we all do. 🙂 That’s a good thing!
        Well, I shan’t give up on being a writer in general – heck, I already am one, if the other ebook counts. It’s just, I wonder how many rejections is enough to say “enough.” Maybe after 18 of these it’s worthwhile to put this particular book on the shelf for a spell, until I become famous due to some newer, worthier book, and my agent asks, “Hey, got anything in your back catalog that we can work with?…”

  7. I got a rewrite request with just a few small issues to address, and a problem with the ending. I fix it up, make it a better story, send it back. When I get my rejection, in time, it basically said that they didn’t get the story to begin with, and brought up issues that hadn’t been brought up when I was revising it. If they were issues from the begining, which I was lead to believe, why didn’t they mention them in the rewrite request? I could have addressed those issues, which were much more of a problem than a missing dialog tag. Made me growl.
    Other than that, I don’t much care. I’d prefer personal rejections, even when they’re just ‘not what floats my boat” because at least then I know I’m doing the right stuff or they wouldn’t even bother with a personal rejection. Still, I don’t mind form rejections. I edit for a zine and I know how numbing slush can be, and how many reasons there are to write a personal rejection, and yet still fall back on “not quite right for the magazine, please keep us in mind in the future.”

  8. I generally don’t get frustrated (okay, as frustrated) by rejection anymore, but I got one this summer that made me want to connect forehead to desk repeatedly.
    Beneath the general “thank you for submitting, but we don’t want it” section were two editors comments on the story:
    “There are some careless mistakes here that could be rectified with careful editing. The premise is novel.”
    “An entertaining story with a good twist. But this piece needs a thorough edit.”
    Now, not to toot my own horn, but grammar and punctuation are usually my strong suits. The piece was 500 words long. On getting those notes, I went over it with a fine toothed comb, and had a friend do the same. Neither of us could find any mistakes, careless or otherwise. I know it’s not an editor’s or an agent’s job to give me pointers on grammar, but all I could figure was that perhaps something got garbled in transmission, since it was an e-sub.
    I get bothered by rejections that leave me baffled.

    • *cough*
      I knew if I said something about being good with grammar, I’d make a careless mistake. 🙂 Should have been “editors’ comments”, natch.

  9. Most frustrating…
    Was one that was due to my own stupidity.
    I re-subbed something to a Famous F&SF Mag that I’d previously subbed about 4 months prior, and recieved, in 20 days, a letter with a handwritten post-script that said:
    “This looks REALLY familiar. Have I seen this one before?”
    Ooops.
    The terrible part is that I *do* track my subs with Sonar.
    As regards queries, I’ve never been brave enough to write one. It would mean heavily revising my single finished novel and breaking ground on a second…

  10. I’m relatively new to this game, and don’t have a huge rejection space to draw upon. My most frustrating rejections are, as others have said, unsigned forms. If the story sucks, why does it suck? Or was it just not right for that editor, on that day?
    I understand the pressures of the business, the tsunami of slush, and the inability of editors and agents to respond personally to every barely literate story hand-printed on sandpaper in purple chalk that they receive. But still.

    • I understand the pressures of the business, the tsunami of slush, and the inability of editors and agents to respond personally to every barely literate story hand-printed on sandpaper in purple chalk that they receive. But still.
      Can you clarify for me? Are you saying — but still, this is so frustrating? Or are you saying — but still, you should be told specifically why the story sucks (or whatever)?

  11. Form rejection which says I’ve probably been rejected for one or more of the following reasons — with a list that comes across to me as “You’ve never read any sf; you stole the plot from Star Trek….”

  12. The one I got that criticized my story by referring specifically to multiple things that weren’t even in the story. Leading me to wonder what story the editor/first reader was reading, because it sure wasn’t mine.
    Or just about any of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s form rejects, because they went beyond harsh at times.

  13. The most frustrating rejection I have received to date was from an editor at a Large Mainstream Publisher (i.e., non-genre) whose letter in re: the nonfiction proposal in question read as follows (verbatim)

    “What a fantastic name! [Misia’s Real Name] is really perfect for publishing, balanced, typographically strong, and memorable. It will look great on book jackets and will stick in the memory of readers.
    This proposal doesn’t fill the right holes in my current list.”

    WTF?????
    I mean, I didn’t really care that this editor rejected the proposal… but why the combo? A panegyric about my name, then the one-line, no-explanation-given rejection? I don’t get it. If you can write three sentences about the author’s name, can’t you at least write something? “The proposal was boring and by page three I prayed to Sweet Baby Jesus to make it stop so I’m rejecting it” would’ve been preferable to that weird combo of fulminance and nothingness.

  14. Re: your addendum
    Hmm. Sorry, but this will be a long story. Apologies in advance.
    I guess the most frustrating rejection I ever got was also one of the most enlightening, if that makes any kind of sense. Based on my synopsis, an agent asked to see my manuscript. This was, at the time, the first time anyone had asked to see my entire manuscript, so I was quite excited. I sent it off and settled in for a good long wait.
    A few months later, I received a thick envelope from the agent. The letter within, boiled down, said, “I really like your writing a lot. But there was something nagging me about this book and I didn’t know what it was, so I asked my assistant to read it, and she wrote the enclosed six-page memo, which I agree with.”
    I was disappointed that I hadn’t been accepted, of course, but on the other hand—a six-page memo! About my book! Pretty cool! Someone had not only read it, but also WRITTEN about it.
    And then I read the memo.
    There were complaints about issues that simply did not exist. For example, saying things like: “On page 345, Character X is described as having a ponytail, but page 5 says Character X is bald.” So I looked at page 5 and, yes, Character X is described as being “shaved bald, except for a long ponytail at the base of his skull.”
    That was the whole memo: Little things, things that could be easily fixed in a week, if that. Things that, like the example above, weren’t even problems. (And lest you think the issue was that there was too much time between pages 5 and 345—the book references this particular characters bald pate/ponytail combo repeatedly throughout). “The description of the such-and-such didn’t work for me.” Fine. That’s a single paragraph in a 400+ ms. I can fix it. Easily.
    It just seemed to me (as a newbie) that if the problems were so minor (those that actually existed, that is), then why reject the book? Why not say, “Fix these things and we’ll be happy to take it.” Or at least look at it again. After all, the agent DID say he liked my writing, liked the story, etc.
    And I guess what was also so frustrating was that anyone who read the memo and the ms. could easily see that the memo-writer hadn’t read the ms. closely at all. Because the memo was full of stuff that just didn’t pertain to the ms. (I later showed both to disinterested third parties, just to confirm that I wasn’t imagining things.)
    I could understand being turned down if “the plot is outlandish” or “the characters are all wooden” or “the writing is terrible.” But to be turned down because a harried reader skipped a clause in a sentence about a character’s hair OR that clause just needs a little tweaking? (I think it’s the former, but I’m willing to admit it may be the latter.)
    I know that agents don’t have time to be editors/book doctors, but it seems to me that if you’re going to take the time to read the ms., then have your assistant read it and write a memo on it… Why not take a chance and throw the author a bone and say, “Fix this stuff and let me see it again.”
    Which, actually, is what I did. I had been contemplating some changes anyway, so I did my rewrite and “fixed” the stuff that wasn’t broken along the way, too. About a year later, I resubmitted, reminding the agent of all the nice things he’d said before, telling him that I’d fixed the stuff from the memo.
    And this leads into another frustrating rejection: He wrote back saying that he remembered the ms., remembered liking my writing, remembered liking the story…but since he’d seen it before, it just didn’t seem fresh to him now, so he was going to pass, even though he still thought the writing was terrific.
    Not sure which rejection was more frustrating: I sort of lump them together into one, big frustrating rejection. 🙂
    But it was enlightening because I learned that if you’re not perfect out of the gate, you don’t stand a chance.

    • Re: your addendum
      Actually, you do stand a chance.
      Truthfully, the jury’s still out on this one for a particular ms of mine, but the publisher who has it now, requested a full, requested revisions, form rejected (WTF?!?!), I rewrote it, just happened to mention it to the editor while talking with her on another thing, and she asked to see it again. Last I heard, about 6 months ago, she loved it–but she hasn’t made an offer on it yet. I think we’re heading into year 3 with it now….

  15. My most frustrating rejection was not really a rejection at all – it was simply miscommunication.
    While having cocktails, the Famous Editor and I talked about my manuscript. She’d requested it based on a phone conversation, knowing it was originally written for a sub-genre she doesn’t buy, but with the understanding (I thought) that she’d have a look at it and tell me if she liked the general idea. I would have time to re-write in her preferred style. She hadn’t read it yet, because knowing we would be having cocktails soon, she hadn’t wanted to risk a disappointment that would make our meeting uncomfortable for either of us. I told her something along the lines of ‘Well, it’s not written in the style you’d most like, so I can simply rewrite it and send the new version to you’. And she said something I remember as ‘don’t bother, I’ll read it next week’.
    So, four months later (she’d had the thing for 7 months at this point, meanwhile, I’m writing away on other projects, waiting to hear whether she thinks the idea is bad and it’s not worth re-writes or if she thinks it might work) she emails me and asks what I want her to do with this manuscript I withdrew.
    So, I decided guidelines are there for a reason and it’s best to follow them, from the beginning.
    This was almost as frustrating as the rejection I got with the reader’s notes upside down in the manscript, written on the back of a real estate listing for apartments in Manhattan. So, I still don’t know if that one sucks or if she was simply having a really bad time looking for a new home.
    I’m disappointed by the crooked, faded photocopy rejections, too.
    Wouldn’t it be cool if we could equip our submissions with GPS devices? Where’s the suggestion box? We could put little chips on them, like our cats have. Then they could be scanned at each person’s desk they pass. If they sit still for more than 3 months, they could emit a low level beep that grows in intensity when covered in coffee, scotch or vomit…

    • Personally, I’ve never minded getting things back with coffee stains on them. This is probably because at university so many of my A papers came back with coffee rings (and some of them were turned in with coffee rings) so I take it as a good sign. You know, someone kept this near the top of the pile long enough to get coffee on it. Same probably goes for scotch.
      Vomit, on the other hand, I’d prefer to avoid.

  16. Before I finally got an agent, I thrice went through send-query-letter, quickly-get-request-for-first-50, send-first-50, quickly-get-request-for-whole-book, send-whole-book…and…waaaaaaaiiiiit. And with big-time, major-author agents, all three times.
    Form letters were fine. “Good but not for me” was fine. Waiting for months when you know you’ve got a real chance at a big thing, now that’s frustrating.
    (I now realize that the wait is in and of itself a bad sign; when I finally did get an agent and a publishing deal, it all happened very quickly indeed. At the time, though, I tried to rationalize “no news is good news”. Yes that’s dumb.)

  17. Most Frustrating
    It’s not exactly what you asked, but the most frustrating thing by far is no response at all. Especially when it’s an editor I know and/or a submission that was requested.
    Other than that, a generic form letter is frustrating, because it gives no clue at all as to what was wrong. A form letter with checkbox thingies is vastly more helpful.
    (I would accept “I hate your writing; never send me anything again” as a useful checkbox. Just tell me something!)

  18. Most frustrating rejection
    I debated whether to post this anonymously or not, but eventually decided to assume that you’ll take it as honest feedback.
    The most frustrating rejection letter I’ve received, I got from your agency. It wasn’t the letter itself, which was better than many I’ve received (“not for me” scribbed over my original letter, for example), but the fact that included in my SASE was a flyer for Don’s book. DMLA used my stamp to send me an advertisement. A couple weeks ago, I took an all day seminar from Don, and half the attendees got together after the seminar, and every one of the six had received the brochure and been upset about it.
    Another person that had submitted to DMLA recently, said that she hadn’t received a brochure, so maybe you don’t do it any more. If so I wouldn’t go back to it; DMLA was alienating a lot of writers.

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