Having just received my first automated rejection email. I can't help but wonder why agents can't just write "This is is a piece of shit, please stop what you're doing and go flip hamburgers for a living." Are rejection letters formulated along the same lines as obituaries? Things that at first appear innocuous and pleasant but on closer inspection are actually thinly disguised insults for those in the know. Perhaps Evil Editor could shed some light on matter?
My first rejection letter of the week follows. Incidentally, they were pretty quick in sending me this email. I only sent them the query yesterday. This means that even though they appear to have no clients whatsoever they still felt the need to tell me to fuck off!
Thank you for letting us see your material, which we have now read and considered. Unfortunately, it is not something we feel that we could successfully represent. However, this is a personal reaction and we wish you luck elsewhere.
PS. I decided to start a blog - one of your minions gave me the idea. www.pleasefeedtheartist.blogspot.com
First of all, there's no need to stop what you're doing to flip hamburgers for a living. You can write during your lunch hour and your break. If you write and flip burgers, you'll have some income.
There was a time when Evil Editor went above and beyond, telling a writer that the main reason I'd rejected his work was because the main character had no redeeming qualities. And the author would write back, arguing my point and assuring me that if I would read the entire book, I would find, in chapter 29, that the main character fails to murder the grocery clerk who saved his life once. I would write back that there were no fewer than 11 additional reasons I'd passed on the book, reasons I'd failed to mention because rejection slips, like query letters, shouldn't be longer than a page. And he would write back to ask what these reasons were, ostensibly for his own edification, but in reality, no doubt, so that he could argue each of them. Fearing that I would find him at my doorstep one day, I confessed to him that I actually believed his book was so great it would likely be Oprah's book of the month, and that my tiny company was not equipped to handle a sudden influx of more than a million orders. He seemed to accept this.
Ever since, I've gone with the innocuous rejection slip. Of course it's annoying to not know whether you were rejected because your material was littered with errors, or because the agent is going through a divorce and taking it out on you, or because the agency has just filed for bankruptcy, or because they don't handle your genre anymore, or because your writing stinks. But all writers have huge collections of rejection slips, including these. (One of numerous amusing and/or encouraging sites to visit if you Google "rejection slips.")
Finally, a one-day turnaround is nothing to complain about. Perhaps your query arrived on the one day a month that the agent answers queries. If so, you got lucky. If you've set a goal to keep five queries out at all times, you can now dispatch the next one.