I got a couple of requests for ‘fulls’—the full manuscript of a novel—from agents. Really exciting, because word has it that agents won’t ask for a full unless they’re interested.
Time passed. A week. Four weeks. Two months. Of course, I knew to expect that delay. Finally, a really nice rejection. Encouraging. Fine writing but just ‘not in our wheelhouse.’ (Apparently, many agents have somehow acquired tugboats.) But still, it was encouraging.
Then I read a newsletter from Lawrence Block, one of our preeminent mystery writers. Block noted:
“When a good agent sends you (a publisher) a manuscript and makes it clear he has high hopes for it, you don’t tell him it’s crap. You say it’s not quite for us. You insist you think very highly of the writing and the writer, but cite the book’s problems of theme and content. You give it high marks for artistry while faulting it for being insufficiently commercial. And you might even say what publishers in your position have been saying for upwards of thirty years: Gosh, five years ago we would have jumped at this, but the way the business has changed—” Lawrence Block, writing in Mystery Fanfare
Yeech. Well, there are still a couple of fulls out there. Hope springs eternal, but more queries seem to be the order of the day.