So, this was an agent rejection for the novel I wrote immediately before I wrote The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy & Goth Girl. I remember being broken-hearted about it at the time, mainly because I had met this agent in person at a conference and we’d really hit it off. So I had high hopes. But looking back on it, it’s a really great letter. Very encouraging.
The first thing to remember, of course, is that no one ever hand-writes anything or offers a personalized rejection unless they see some kind of promise in you. So that’s the first good sign. The fact that the agent in question (name redacted, of course) felt compelled to write something above and beyond the form letter was a good sign by itself. But take a look at what she wrote:
Many thanks for your fine submission [redacted]. While I wish I could send encouraging words re- representation, I just did not honestly feel confident of my ability to represent this project on your behalf.
Of course, this but [sic] one opinion an always subjective business. It could well be (and often is) that another reader will see immediate possibilities. Trade publishing abounds with such stories.
It was a pleasure to meet you at the conference. You are clearly a writer of ability & I send best wishes for your success.
As rejections go, that one’s pretty heartening! It was similar to many others I received during this time period, basically boiling down to “Not yet. You’re close, though.” And I was, since Fanboy ended up taking off.
But if I had seen only the rejection and dismissed the personal stuff, might I have given up? Who knows? The lesson, as always: Take what you can from a rejection and then keep moving on.