19 December, 2011

A Tiny Bit Encouraging?

Brown envelopes are horrible aren't they? They only ever seem to mean one thing to writers: another rejection. There was one waiting for me this morning when I came downstairs, but this time I'm not downhearted.

Before anyone gets excited (because of course, you all were, weren't you?), it was indeed another rejection. This one was from my first-choice literary agency - Conville and Walsh - who I submitted to in September and was beginning to lose hope with. So far nothing to celebrate, right? However, it wasn't a standard rejection - it was personalised! I appreciate that getting a personalised rejection might not seem like anything much to shout about, but after five fairly swift standard rejections, it was somehow one of the most encouraging things I've ever read! Tragic but true.

Reading those few words, "you write brilliantly and the premise is wonderful", followed by the assertion that they are "sure you will find an agent soon", will keep me going through a good handful more rejections. Standard rejections are difficult because you don't know whether they hated your work or it just didn't quite make the grade, so it's a boost to know that one of the bigger agencies actually think I can write. (I'm not being stupid here, am I? They wouldn't write that in a standard letter, would they?)

Of course, if they really loved it, they would have asked to read the full manuscript and then found me a publisher - but I refuse to let that minor detail discourage me. Conville and Walsh use readers so it looks like my sample chapters might have got past the readers and on to the next stage of assessment - that's something at least! I don't share their optimism about finding an agent soon, but they have persuaded me that it might not be completely impossible...


  1. Better to have an agent say it's good but I can't promote it, than say nothing at all.

    I got a similar email from a magazine about a short story.

  2. Chloe, that's great news, if you know what I mean. Now, how would you feel about writing back to them to thank them for the feedback and to inquire if, having read your work, they could suggest a suitable door to knock upon?

  3. Thanks Martin. I was hoping that was the case!

  4. Thanks Derek :) I guess I'd feel really awkward. I'd be happy to thank them for the feedback but everything you read is about how agents don't have time for anyone and paints them as being quite grumpy, so I'd feel it was fruitless asking them anything!

    I read a little essay written by one of their readers who gets about 200 samples a month to read and he reccommends about 10 of these to the agents. I think I got to that stage. But it's made me realise just how much competition there is!

  5. I'd say that was very encouraging news, Chloe! Congratulations - even getting noticed by the reader is a major sign that you're doing something right.

    Agents and publishers, despite what a lot of writers would like to believe, have no obligation to give you anything other than a "yes" or "no". That they took the time to personalise their response (let's not use the other r-word), and chose such complimentary things to say about your work, should be a huge boost to your confidence.

    Keep trying, it sounds like you're on the right track.

    Best of luck,


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  6. Thanks Dan :) Knowing that other people are going through the same sort of submission/response (I definitely prefer the word response!) procedure with novels, short stories and competition entries helps me!

  7. I think this is about as positive as any of us can hope for, short of actually being accepted by an agency and not for the first time I say you should be congratulated.
    From my point of view Chloe you're not just putting your writing out there, you're putting good writing out there.
    We're going to see good news from you on this topic before much longer. Tom

  8. Oh Tom, just hearing someone say "We're going to see good news..." as if it was a fact makes me so hopeful it nearly brought tears to my eyes. You rock!


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