Here’s why that happens:
We represent something similar
If we recently took on a project that has similarities to yours we cannot sign yours up too. It’s not fair to our client and it’s not fair to you. We can’t bombard editors with two projects similar to each other and risk the success of both of them individually.
The voice doesn’t grab us
It might have everything going for it, but for some reason the voice or main character doesn’t speak to us in particular so we need to pass because we’re not the best fit. Agents sign projects up when they are the whole package–in our eyes. But, every agent’s taste is different so what isn’t a fit for one agent can be the whole package in someone else’s eyes.
We like it, but aren’t head over heels for it
Sometimes we like something a lot, but love is different than like. Sometimes we want to love something, but we can’t get there for any number of reasons. Forcing a good fit doesn’t work out for anyone. Don’t settle for like, keep searching for an agent that loves it and they’ll be the right one to represent and support your project and your writing.
It requires more work than we have time to give
Manuscripts take time to get ready for submission. Depending on how much work is to be done it’s at least a few weeks and can take months. Agents never have two days that look the same, but some weeks/seasons are busier than others which give us time to dedicate to editorial work for new clients. Agents want our clients to be successful so we know how much time and effort it takes. We can’t take something on unless we know we can get it to submission-ready status in the right amount of time.
A pass is never what anyone wants to hear, but some times it’s more complicated than a form rejection.
[Image via BippityBoppityBoo Tumblr]