I cam home tonight to find a letter from Jennifer Jackson, an agent at the Donald Maass Literary Agency. It was a rejection, brief but polite. Almost too short to be a form letter, it included the title of my novel. Sure it’s a template, but some flunky had to spend an extra few moments plugging in the variables, rather than just slipping a piece of paper into an envelope.
It also mentions that my “credits are certainly notable”, which is certainly a reach, but this letter couldn’t be used for people with no credits whatsoever. That marks this rejection as the first in which someone at the agency actually thought about the appropriate reply. (Realistically, the mention of my credits is likely intended to forestall the irrational raving “But I’m Someone!” response, but at least they paid enough attention to my query to identify that threat.) They spelled my name wrong, but there’s a shortage of e’s these days, I’m told. As with all other shortages, China is to blame.
The letter was brief, it was honest (except for the notable credits part), but it was a tiny bit more personal than what has come before. In the meantime I have learned a bunch from Evil Editor and his minions, and I continue to hone my message.
But for all you agents lurking around, reading my blog (I know you’re out there), it’s funny what just a tiny bit of personalization does to a rejection. I’ve been shot down by the woman, yet my response is, “that Jennifer Jackson is all right.” Probably we will never work together, but it’s a small world, and she managed to slam the door in my face with just a gentle click of the latch. I appreciate that.