Are Agents Just Looking for an Excuse to Reject Your Work?

Q: Doesn’t it seem like agents are just looking for excuses to reject work?

A: Actually, the complete opposite is true. Agents don’t want to reject your work, they want to accept it and sell it to any publisher willing to take a chance—after all, that’s how they pay their rent. Agents may tell you that they reject work because the writer used poor grammar or didn’t follow submission guidelines or shares a name with a grade-school bully whom the agent has never forgiven (all of which make it sound like they are out to get you), but the dirty truth is this: Agents are willing to look past all of that if you have a story that’s worth selling. Grammar can be fixed; a bad story idea can’t.

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About Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman is a full-time entrepreneur (since 2014) and has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry. She is the co-founder of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and is the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. In addition to being a columnist with Publishers Weekly and a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press, 2018).


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