1. seije
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    seije Member

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    query rejection- thoughts?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by seije, Feb 1, 2012.

    so a few weeks ago i sent out a few query letters. i'm still waiting on a few responses, but one letter came back fairly quickly (4 days, i think?) and the agent said the concept sounded interesting and asked for the first 5 pages. I was overjoyed. first wave of letters on my first novel, and i get a response... but, after sending her the pages (my prologue, basically), she responds with the following;

    "Thanks for sending along the pages of your manuscript. Truth be told, though, I'm afraid these pages just didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped. I'm pressed for time these days and, what with my reservations about the project, I suspect I wouldn't be the best fit. Thanks so much for contacting me and for giving me this opportunity. It's much appreciated, and I'm sorry to be passing. I wish you the very best of luck in your search for representation."


    So now I'm having trouble deciding what to do. You see, the first 5 pages of my novel come across as very cliche. Two parents discover that an infant dropped in their lap is destined to become a hero that will one day destroy a great evil. That pretty much sums up my prologue- but the story itself is about all the players in that prophecy, specifically a supposed villain (which ends up being the parents' other son). Long story short, the supposed villain is anything but, and is actually the main protagonist of the story who must fight against his own fate or risk heralding the arrival of the great evil of which the prophecy warns.

    I've been trying to rewrite my prologue using a later event, but I'm finding it difficult to include all the necessary information for the reader, introducing the twist in the story that breaks the otherwise-cliche-sounding beginning, and still have it be a story and not an info-dump (and given my setting and choice of characters, there's already a fair amount of information that has to be explained).

    I've also considered the fact that perhaps that agent simply didn't care for my writing style, and that i should polish up my current prologue. Or perhaps I should just wait until i find an agent that does enjoy my style.


    Anyways, I'm looking for some advice. Should I-

    - continue to rewrite my prologue, and just try to smooth over/disguise the extra info-dumps
    - take a look at my old prologue and see if anything can be done to make it more appealing (which i have tried already, but i guess i could take another crack at it)
    - remove the prologue entirely and attempt to catch agents' attention with my chapter 1 (which is much more exciting) and work in that needed information elsewhere
    - just be happy that i made it that far on my first set of letters and wait to hear back from the others before changing anything; it was only one person's opinion, after all


    I realize it's pretty hard to go on with such a vague description, but any thoughts are welcome.
     
  2. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Seije. I wouldn't read too much into this.

    This is Andrea Somberg's form rejection letter. From what I've seen she has a high request rate for the first five pages. Her template rejection can sometimes be misunderstood as specifically hinting at certain flaws in the opening pages, but like with all form rejections, it's impossible to know why she didn't like it. It just means she didn't connect with the book. And she's just one agent so if you felt your manuscript was ready I wouldn't change anything just yet based on one form rejection. Wait for all your responses to come in and then revisit the manuscript before sending the next batch. Yes, your first few pages need to be captivating. But this reply is no indication of whether it is or isn't.

    Best of Luck
    Joker
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Joker, but that doesn't change the fact that, upon further review (as they say), you found something you don't like. See what happens with the other queries, but in the meantime, if you have thought of a way to improve upon those first five pages, go ahead and do it. Just don't change your opinion of them because of one rejection.

    BTW, congratulations on getting your work out there. No matter how it turns out.
     
  4. joanna
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    joanna Active Member

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    You mentioned that the first five pages are cliche, so if you think so yourself, it's likely there's something there that will hurt your chances with an agent.

    I like the idea of starting from exciting chapter one. Often we think the reader must know all these things in advance but often it really isn't necessary.
     
  5. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been through similar problems, in re prologue and opening chapter.

    Keep the current version saved somewhere and wait for the other responses, yes.

    But at the same time, you could also experiment and try some alternatives.

    What worked for me was to cut out the prologue, and incorporate the key elements into my story. I also worked on making my first chapter more dynamic and interesting.

    Sounds like your first chapter is already offering some excitement. So perhaps this would be a good point to start your book with.

    Good luck
     
  6. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    MASSIVE red flag right there. Your first 5 pages should not come across as cliche, even if later on you subvert that cliche in a really clever way. Because anyone put off by the cliche (like this agent, possibly) won't ever get to the clever subverting bit. You've gotta get em from page one, paragraph one. NO ifs, buts or excuses. No second chances to make a first impression.

    RED FLAG NO. 2

    Your prologue should not be an info dump - that is not what prologues are there for, although it is commonly how they get abused. If you're using it as a means of getting in all the backfground info you are absolutely adamant the reader NEEDS to know before they start to read the actual story, chances are you aren't writing a prologue at all. You're clearing your throat before you start to do the REAL writing.

    Definitely not. Trying to disguise info dumps just doesn't work very well. The only way to do it is to find a different way of getting the information across so that it ISN'T an info dump. And this will probably be in a different part of the story. Also, try to establish some of it by showing rather than just all tell.

    Your half-hearted response to that option says it all. The old prologue doesn't excite you, it won't excite anyone else. I think you can call that dead.

    Every single sentence of your post up to this point has been guiding you here. The logical conclusion of all your analysis as to why the submission was rejected is that the prologue is not working.

    Yes, be happy for taking the first step, and by all means wait for the other responses, if indeed they all respond. But be prepared for more of the same, and if that happens, be prepared to address the problem it points to.
     
  7. IrishLantern
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    IrishLantern Member

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    I'd agree with Kallithrix, it sounds like form everything you say that you should jump straight in to chapter 1. The exciting bit is where you want to start. If readers pick your book up from a shelf and read the first page or so, you want them to want to find out more. You could reference the prophecy in there, which would sow questions in the readers heads perhaps.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto the ditto re kalli's comments
     
  9. MVP
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    That was your mistake. You didn't follow instructions. They asked for your story, not a prologue.

    The agent has no idea what your story is about. She has 5 pages of backstory staring her in the face.

    She is missing the best part. This^^. That is your story.

    That.^^
    Your prologue earned you a rejection, do you really want to devote any more writing time to it? I wouldn't bother editing the prologue, just handle the submission differently. Next time, send the first pages of the story, not the prologue. Once you get talking with an agent, then bring up the prologue. If they tell you to can it and work the details into the story, then do that. You can do that now, while you are waiting for query responses. You just made a little mistake, and it is actually giving you a good piece of info-- work the details of that prologue into the story--. Keep going with the query letters, see who else will bite, and good luck!
     
  10. seije
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    seije Member

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    thanks everyone for the replies and advice. i've been getting too wrapped up in the world i created, and i suppose i forgot that introducing the story is much more important than introducing the world. I honestly hadn't even considered the option to remove the prologue until i came here to make the post, and started brainstorming other possible solutions. :p
     

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