Monday, August 14, 2017

Memorable Rejections Received Over the Years by Marianne Stephens

Here's a questionable rejection from a very high profile, RWA-recognized, well-known agent.

I sent the requested three chapters. I received a rejection thanking me for giving her the opportunity to read my complete manuscript. I wrote back and noted I'd only sent three chapters and wondered if we were talking about the same submission. She wrote back...and I quote..."Once a letter has been mailed, we do not offer any additional feedback on a submission."

I have no idea if my chapters were what she was rejecting or someone else's full manuscript.

My second questionable rejection is from an agent no longer recognized by RWA.

I sent a requested full manuscript. She called and spent 30 minutes asking questions about the book and other books I had written or was in the process of writing. She said she was almost through reading it and it looked fine. She wanted to finish it and make sure I'd followed through with the story to the end. This was a Monday. She said she'd get back to me by Friday or the following Monday.

A month later she called and proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with the book to include plot, too much character-driven material, etc. She suggested I read 4 books on writing and redo the story before I'd be allowed to resubmit to her. I chose not to contact her again.

Another rejection:

I'd written a category romance following the guidelines and sent in a query. My rejection stated that they really weren't looking for books with children in them for this particular line...and mine was about a woman running a daycare facility. Nowhere in the guidelines did it state they didn't want kids in the story or else I'd never have submitted.

I now publish with self-publishing groups.

Anyone else have memorable rejections to share?

Marianne Stephens
photo: Flickr: Caro Wallis photostream


  1. Sounds like the first one you mentioned sent you a form rejection letter with a fill-in-the-blanks section for parts that were specific to your book.

    When I first started writing, I wanted to write horror/paranormal and came up with a story where the hero had the ability to know when a specific woman would die. The ability sickened him so much, he got involved with the women in the hope that he could stop their deaths. Didn't happen. Long story short, the last women he gets involved with he falls in love with and is racing against time to save her. A NY house LOVED the book. Compared my writing to Hitchcock stories and to Stephen King. The senior editor said they'd be willing to contract it if I took out the paranormal stuff (the hero being able to sense these women would die). Okay, that's like taking eggs out of a cake once you've baked it. I told him I had no idea how that would work since there's no way he could 'know' certain women would die unless he had that paranormal ability. BTW: I did all this w/o an agent. Just sent it in over the transom. The book wasn't contracted. I moved on.

  2. At her request, I once sent an RS ms to a Mira editor, Alice or something... she wrote back that she she felt as though the book couldn't decide if it was a romance or a suspense novel. (Head>>>desk)