When an agent sends a rejection letter, different types of rejections mean different things. Here’s the inside scoop, as I see it, on four main forms of rejection:
The Plain Old Rejection (usually sent for rejecting query letters):
This letter will say something like, Thanks, but no thanks. It means that the project isn’t right for that agent for one reason or another. If you continue to receive these rejections from every agent you’re submitting to, consider revising your query, or maybe it’s time to move on to a new idea.
The ‘Revise and Send Again’ Rejection (usually sent for rejecting proposals or manuscripts):
This rejection letter will have some revision notes in it. This usually means that your proposal or manuscript sparked the agent’s interest, but the agent knows that it needs to be revised in some way to have a chance in the current market. These rejections usually ask for the project to be sent again, if the suggested revisions are made. If you receive one of these rejections, be sure to follow through and send that revised project back to the agent. (Agents hate to make suggestions, only to have the potential client never resubmit but instead shows the new and improved version to another agent–who, of course, thought it was genius!)
The ‘Any Other Ideas?’ Rejection (usually sent for rejecting proposals or manuscripts):
If you receive a rejection asking if you have any other ideas for projects, this typically means that the agent enjoyed your writing, but didn’t think that your idea would work well in the marketplace. You’ll want to write back to the agent with a list of project ideas and an estimated date of when he or she could see a proposal, if you aren’t finished with the writing yet.
The ‘This Project Isn’t Right for Me’ Rejection (usually sent for rejecting proposals or manuscripts):
This type of rejection is used as a thanks, but no thanks rejection for proposals and manuscripts. It means that something in your query letter sparked the agent’s interest, but when he or she looked at the writing sample and examined the idea more closely, it wasn’t a good fit. If you continue to receive this type of rejection, stop submitting your project and consider revising.
I hope this is helpful to you as you work your way down the road to publication!