The Day I Almost Pressed The Delete Button On A Literary Agent's Interest

Posted on 29th July, 2016

Some months ago, I wrote a post about rejection letters from literary agents. At one extreme I received one that took the term "standard rejection letter" to new heights by being so standardised that it applied to non-fiction writers as well as novelists; and at the other extreme, there was the one that said, "Your work is publishable. Good luck placing it elsewhere." Hm.


And in between, there were some that my friend Jen Gilroy, whose debut novel The Cottage At Firefly Lake will be published in January, calls positive rejections - a rejection that includes a compliment about the writing. In my case, these were couched in similar fashion; namely, "compliment compliment, but..." Ah, those buts!


At the time I didn't realise how lucky I was to get this feedback. Since then I've been told that standard letters are the norm and personal rejections with comments are unusual. I was most fortunate to get these snippets of feedback.


And I used them. The compliments gave me a boost, but it was those buts I concentrated on... but I didn't find that particular character sympathetic... but I didn't like the inclusion of the back story so early... but there was too much dialogue...


The end result was another draft of the novel, which in June was ready to be submitted. I sent out email submissions around 4pm one Friday afternoon, intending to send paper submissions the following morning. On the Saturday morning I glanced at my emails and there were two from literary agents. Automatic responses, of course - and I almost deleted them unopened.

 ortunately for me,

Fortunately for me, I opened them instead. Yes, the first was indeed an automatic "thank you - we have received it" message. I opened the second one and my immediate thought, as my finger hovered over the delete button, was: That's a long automatic response.

 nger obviously had more sense than I did, because it didn't hit delete

Well, my finger evidently had more sense than I did, because it didn't hit delete and that gave me time to read the message.... which was a personal email from Laura Longrigg at MBA, sent around 9pm on Friday evening, saying she had started reading my submission on the way home, was loving it and wanted to see the full MS.


Long story short. I ended up with offers of representation from two agents, but while I was enormously pleased and flattered by the second agent's interest, there was never any doubt in my mind. Various writer friends advised me to meet with both agents before deciding what to do, but I didn't feel the need for that. Out of the agents I submitted to, and also those I didn't get the chance to submit to because Laura responded so swiftly, she was always top of my list and I'm delighted to be represented by her.



Make A Comment

Characters left: 2000

Comments (12)

Thanks so much, Carol. What a lovely thing to say. You're right - it does feel like an adventure.
Really looking forward to hearing how your adventure continues, Susanna. For us, to follow, is just awesome!
Jen, you have given me so much support all along and your own success has served as an inspiration. Thanks as always for supporting my blog.
Jan, thanks for leaving your congratulations. It was lovely to share my good news with you in person at the RNA Conference.
Carol, thank you so much for your kind words. Thanks also for tweeting about my happy news. Your support is much appreciated.
Congratulations, Susanna. This is a lovely post and one I'm so happy to read. I'm also honoured by the mention. It's a privilege to be sharing this journey with you.

You've shown dedication and persistence in reaching this milestone in your writing career. Well done you! I wish you much success as you continue to work towards publication, now with Laura's expert guidance.
Congratulations, Sue. Such brilliant news! I'm so pleased you didn't press that 'delete' button and you've got the agent you wanted. I look forward to hearing about the progress you make as you and Louise work towards publication of your novel. :-)
Can't wait for next blog, Susanna. Keep us posted on this wonderful news! Congratulations!
Yes, Louise, it all worked out perfectly. I couldn't have asked for anything better than being represented by Laura. Thanks for your message.
Congratulations! What a good thing you paused for that moment to read the email. It is specially good that the agent who responded so quickly was the one who was your own first choice.
Thanks for your kind words, Karen, and also for your support throughout the process. xx
What a lovely blog post, Susanna. So excited for you. Your agent obviously knows a good thing when she sees it :)