When I woke up this past Saturday, I had no idea that an hour later I’d be scrambling to rewrite my novel’s opening. Ahh, how young and innocent I was then…
Fresh in my inbox that morning was a rejection from an agent, but it was no ordinary rejection. It told me WHY. Whyyy! O blessed “why!” Those of you in the querying trenches know how rare that is.
Sadly, his reason confirmed something I’d already been nervous about… Basically my book opens in a way that seems like a cliche, until you get a page in and discover – oh! – it’s actually very much not. I had this book critiqued by LOTS of people, and nobody had qualms with the opening, but I still had a nagging fear at the back of my mind… Even though it’s a play on a certain trope, I worried it would still feel like that trope to the reader and turn them off… Turns out this agent agreed. 😦
I became instantly distraught, not because I had to change it (well kind of because I had to change it – I had no idea what to change it to) but because I’d already sent 40 other queries. I couldn’t help but fret: What if they rejected me for the same reason? What if my previous opener cost me those great agents?
I just wish I knew. There’s a whole host of reasons why authors get rejected, not all of them personal. Sometimes the agent has too many clients right now. Other times it’s a little personal, but in a way you can’t control: your premise or style isn’t their cup of tea; that’s okay. But soooometimes it’s for something you can control, if only you were aware of the problem. It’s frustrating to not know! Maybe those 40 other agents were totally fine with the beginning. Maybe they rejected me because the protagonist has the same name as their mean old aunt who stole their cookies when they were a kid. Who knows.
But there’s a fair chance my opening was a deal-breaker for at least a few of them. So I decided to just nip that potential problem in the bud by rewriting it.
It wasn’t as catastrophic as I imagined. (It never is. My brain’s a jerk.) I was able to come up with an alternative that wasn’t too wildly different. I mainly had to give the first page new material, but most of the rest just involved shifting and editing. It came out well. Hopefully my luck improves from here!
In better news, I have a short story getting published later this month, woooo!! AND today is my lovely boyfriend’s birthday! Much woo indeed. 🙂
Tell me, have you ever received a helpful rejection? If so, was it about something you could fix? What did you do?