Oh, those Agent Rejection Letters.

When I was pitching THE BEGGAR’S OPERA, it was rejected 156 times before I gave up on querying altogether. Not long afterwards,  it was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger Award in the UK. And not only did I end up being represented by an internationally known agent (thanks to Ian Rankin, who I met in a bar while I was in the UK for the festivities), but THE BEGGAR’S OPERA has  since been published in the UK, the US, Canada, Norway, Holland, Germany, the Czech Republic (and soon, Israel),  to wide critical acclaim (check out the reviews in the sidebar).

Here, dear  friends, is a taste of what I went through along the way. Talk about rejection! Bottom line? Don’t give up!

Thank you for sending me sample chapters of your novel, THE BEGGAR’S OPERA, for consideration, and for your patience while waiting for my response.  After careful evaluation, I have decided that I am not the right agent to represent your work.  Please do not take this rejection as a comment on your writing ability.  I can only properly represent material that greatly excites or interests me, especially in the current difficult publishing climate.  Since this is such a subjective business, I am sure another agent will feel quite differently about your work.


Thank you for sharing your work with me.  I know that writing a book is a time-consuming and emotional process, so I appreciate the effort you have expended to reach this point in your publishing journey. Alas, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit.


Thanks so much for getting in touch with me, but I think I’m going to have to pass. I’m just not sure that this premise would be as effective as it should be in this market. All said, please know that I wish you only the best in your journey towards getting published.


Many thanks for sending me this material, which I read with interest. I considered it carefully but I’m afraid on balance it just doesn’t quite grab my imagination in the way that it must for me to offer to represent you. So I shall have to follow my gut instinct and pass on this occasion. I’m sorry to be so disappointing, but thanks for thinking of us. Of course this is a totally subjective view, so do keep trying other agents and I sincerely wish you every success with it elsewhere.


While your pages are interesting and well-written, after careful consideration, I feel that your project is not right for my list at the current time.


We did review your proposal, and unfortunately we are going to pass on representing it. The premise just didn’t resonate with us as much as we would have liked.


Thanks for sending me this, Peggy.

I took a quick look at it and though it’s obvious you can write, I just wasn’t pulled into it.  You’ve also contacted me at a time when I am simply overwhelmed with work.


Thanks for sending along The Beggar’s Opera.   I really appreciate your patience these past few weeks while waiting for a response.

There’s some good, smooth prose in these pages –   in fact, the quality of writing is better than most of the material that crosses my desk.  I also loved the sense of atmosphere and the details about Cuba.  It’s with real regret, then, that I must admit that I ultimately wasn’t engaged by the manuscript as much as I had hoped. Perhaps part of the problem is that, while Mike is certainly sympathetic, I’m afraid I found him to be a bit too overly familiar.  I felt he lacked that extra spark, that extra development, that would distinguish him as a highly compelling, memorable protagonist, that would help this book stand out from the crowd. Peggy, in spite of this manuscript’s strengths, I’d better pass. I suspect that, based on my above reservations, I just wouldn’t be the best advocate for the project.


Thank you very much for sending THE BEGGAR’S OPEAR. I think you’re a very talented writer and this is an extremely evocative use of setting. The amount of detail you bring to this presentation of Havana is very impressive. I also think your dialogue is very strong.

That said, as much as I admire your writing, I’m afraid I just didn’t quite find myself connecting with the narrative as I would have liked. I’m afraid I felt the pacing was rather slow for a thriller, and I’m concerned about the length of time it took to get to the heart of the plot. I was also a bit concerned about the effect of the shift in perspective, and throughout I found the narration a tad distant.


There is a lot to like in your novel: your writing is well paced and usually flows well; dialogue is good; the colorful background of Cuba/Havana is also great.

But I’m afraid I find all the connections de trop, as the French say. For me, these finally render the whole unconvincing and I don’t see how you could unscramble it to suit my particular taste.

This entry was posted in Dealing with rejection, rejection letters. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Oh, those Agent Rejection Letters.

  1. ONLY 156 rejections? Golly over half of the agents I queried didn’t bother to even respond with a rejection. And the letters you posted sound oh so familiar. But you overcame it all. gGood for you! Best of luck with your writing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peggy Blair says:

      Thanks! I left out all the form letters that were addressed to Dear Author and said they just weren’t all that enthusiastic about my work. And then, yes, there were many non-responses as well. I never counted those as rejections. More, disappeared.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Natalie says:

    I think it’s fantastic you persevered!! And look at the result! 🙂


  3. Robert Gault says:

    I purchased Beggar’s Opera today and look forward to a good read.

    Thank you,



  4. Evelyn Maloney says:

    Makes me feel really annoyed with the reasoning for the rejections.
    I love the plots, engaging characters, and wonderful atmosphere created.
    A wonderful lesson for all of us, to listen to our “inner voice of wisdom” and persevere.
    Really loved Hungry Ghosts. Brilliant . Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. this was really interesting to read. thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I had noticed a very polite trend while pitching to agents. At least the let down isn’t crushing. Your story of persevering is quite inspiring, Peggy!


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