Notes from the Armchair #3

By Laura Zats


Some rejections are easy.

This is what we DO NOT want to happen.

This is what we DO NOT want to happen.

When a writer sends us a half-cocked query with a ton of typos that doesn’t make sense? Turned down.

When we get requests for representation from authors whose book doesn’t fit within our representative categories? Declined.

When a manuscript is boring, unsellable, or just plain bad? Thumbs down.

When a book sends out a big ol’ creeper vibe and/or gives us the heebie jeebies? Refused.

But there are a lot of good books, a lot with amazing stories and excellent potential that I’ve turned down since starting work with Red Sofa. So why did I say no?

Beats me.

An agent is very adept at assessing a book’s possible success based on things like industry trends, its competition, how easy the author is to work with, genre, quality of writing, and subject. Even if a book hits every checkmark for a good investment, there’s still a good chance we’ll reject it. Not because it shouldn’t be published, but because it’s not for us.

I can’t speak for all agents, but the ones I’ve come into contact with working with Red Sofa aren’t just looking to make a quick buck off just any book. Rather, we’re looking to build strong, meaningful relationships with our authors and their works.

And that means we want to be in love. We want to be bowled over by that “it” factor, presented with a book that makes us do a little dance at our desks as we come across a delightful turn of phrase or a kick-butt action sequence.

Sometimes we do this if we're REALLY excited!

Sometimes we do this if we’re REALLY excited!

Oftentimes, the reason I reject a book, when it’s all said and done, is because I don’t love it. Sometimes I can pinpoint exactly why, sometimes I can’t.

While it’s hard to give a writer advice on how to make a stranger fall in love with their manuscript, I can tell you that sometimes an unenthusiastic agent is worse than no agent at all.

So keep looking until you find your biggest fan.



Latest Posts

1 Comment

  1. Chiara on November 5, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    Thank you for this insight into your query process, I hope I have at least avoided the typos and creeper vibe in mine! I did try to bowl you over, I’m pretty in love with my manuscript- scratch that I’m utterly obsessed with it (hmm- slipping into creeper territory?) So I hope if you are interested you will
    become so too :).

    I often dance exactly like that, sometimes mid-writing. I’m going to take this as a promising sign I’m on the right track.

    All the best Chiara