Avoid Rejections by Making Sure Your MS is Agent Worthy

So, you’ve written a novel. Let’s admit it. Writing a book is hard.


How many people have told you they’ve been thinking of writing a book too. And they say it like they mean it. But they don’t. And writing may be hard, but editing is downright painful; and knowing when you “finished” is nearly impossible.

You’ve fallen madly in love with your characters. You think about them as you fall asleep at night. They greet you first thing in the morning, you dream about them. Your mind wanders while you’re driving, riding the train, out for a run, talking to people. Heaven forbid someone asks you how the book is coming along. You start jabbering about it until his eyes glaze over and you have to stop yourself. You begin to think you’re suffering from some form of personality disorder. You tell yourself you need to step away from the keyboard, get out of the house and start socializing again. And then finally, it’s done. The satisfaction is overwhelming and yet you’re a little sad that the journey has come to an end. Now, you just have to sell it, and thousands, maybe millions, of people will read your amazing story!

You learn how to write a query letter, you attend workshops, you reach out to your writer group. They love your story and your optimism is sky high. Wait until people read my story! They’ll be blown away, they’ll love it, and agents will be in a bidding war. The movie will be a blockbuster!

Rejections start pouring in. You’re up. You’re down. Sometimes you get a bite from an agent, you submit the manuscript. She says no thanks. Maybe she suggests a rewrite and she’ll take another look. She still says no. If you’re lucky an agent will tell you what she doesn’t like about your story and you attack the rewrite with the vengeance of a spurned lover. It’s still rejected. A year has elapsed and you’re absolutely nowhere. You’re resentful. You ask yourself  “How much am I going to have to pervert my story to sell it?” Do I even care if I sell it anymore? I hate my story!

But have faith. The Sisters can save you a lot of wasted time. I’ll share some tips I picked up as I travel through the maze of editors and agents who’ve taken the time to offer advice. So, before you write that query letter make sure your manuscript is in tip-top shape. Oh, the time I would have saved if I’d known these things a year ago!

What’s up next? The Elements of an Opening Scene. Those first ten pages can make you or break you.


                                     “It was a dark and stormy night.”

…an often-mocked and parodied phrase written by English novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton in the opening sentence of his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.  The phrase is considered to represent “the archetypal example of a florid, melodramatic style of fiction writing” also known as purple prose.  (Wikipedia)

Author: Caryn McGill

Caryn is a former high school science teacher, school district administrator and adjunct college professor.

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