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7:06pm on Saturday, 27th February, 2010:
I spent this afternoon making changes to my young adult novel, following comments from an agent. When I write to an agent myself, I get either no reply or a "like it but didn't love it" reply. However, when my work is forwarded on the recommendation of someone else, it's a little different. The agent will give a reply detailing four or five specific things that they didn't like, and then reject it.
The thing is, these four or five things they don't like are clearly not the real reason for the rejection, which is basically that they just weren't engaged by it (ie. what they'd normally say "like it but didn't love it" for). However, they feel obliged to comment so as not to be rude to whoever recommended me to them. If they really did reject the novel (well, the three chapters they were sent) on the basis of the four or five points they raised, then they would re-read it following corrections. However, they won't; as far as they are concerned, they are recommending changes so that the next agent to read it will like it more. This assumes that all agents have the same tastes, of course.
The recommendations I'm currently dealing with can be summarised as:
OK, these sound fair enough, except:
Still, I made alterations to address all of these except the shortening of an already-short chapter. The next agent to see it will have to find something else to complain about (or perhaps not; as you can see, agents don't seem to care whether their complaints are entirely based in fact). Nevertheless, I'm sufficiently optimistic to believe that if the waters of agent opinion roll over my novel often enough, they'll take away all the sharp edges and be left with a smooth pebble. Then, they'll have to say "like it but didn't love it" just like they would if I submitted it myself.
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