February 11th Webinar: “Find Success with Your Query Letter: Getting Beyond Form Letters”

New year, new webinar.

Sign up here today! It also includes a critique of your query letter!


  • How to recognize patterns in rejection letters
  • When to rewrite your query and when to revise your manuscript
  • Why agents send form rejections and why they send personalized rejections-and what the difference is
  • Winning formulas for your premise, hook and query letter
  • Why your pitch should focus on plot, not theme
  • The truth about how agents process queries
  • How to think like an agent who is reading their slush pile


Writers are tired of all those rejection letters piling up in their inbox. Some writers are confused about what they mean and how to learn from them. Agents don’t love sending rejections; in fact, it’s agents’ least favorite part of the job. Agents send them for many reasons like writers not following guidelines or targeting the right agents, or perhaps an agent really does like a pitch, but they don’t love it. Everyone can see that’s a broad spectrum. So how do writers know where they fall into it? Believe it or not, those form rejections hold the secret to writers’ success-they just don’t know it yet.

This live webinar will change the way attendees think about the polite passes they get from agents. P.S. Literary VP and Senior Agent Carly Watters will teach writers how to deconstruct rejections, interpret unknown patterns, provide attendees with winning pitching formulas, and empower writers to find their success within the querying system.

Agents actually love the slush pile because it’s where they find most of their debut clients. Carly will show attendees how to stand out in the slush pile and reduce the number of rejections received through simple and straightforward techniques they’ll wish they had before they began submitting. Carly has proudly found 95% of her fiction authors in the slush pile and she’ll share the patterns of success that helped land those writers with her.

It’s never too late to have a winning writing career. Those rejections aren’t the end. All it takes is one yes. And Carly will help you get closer to yes.

Here’s the link again. The webinar is Thursday Feb 11. Hope to see you there!

3 Ways You Know It’s Not A Form Rejection

researchMany writers keep their form rejections in a drawer and tally up their collection from time to time. A form rejection is a generic pass on your work that politely let’s you know we won’t be pursuing your project and doesn’t provide advice on what direction to take your manuscript. It’s a simple, “it’s not right for us at this time.”

Many writers crave feedback and just want to know what they’re doing ‘wrong’ per se. However, agents don’t have time for that in every case. And we aren’t able to provide referrals to other agents. We realize, and don’t pretend otherwise, that writers don’t glean much from form rejections, but alas, they’re part of the process.

But sometimes you’ll get that shimmer of hope: Personalized feedback! Not a form rejection! Something you can sink your teeth into!


1. The response is from the agent, not the submissions manager. When an agent addresses you personally from their account, not a general mailbox you know they have personally looked at it and felt strongly about giving comments. (When submissions managers get in touch agents have still read it, but it’s more of a formality when it goes through the proper submission channels.)

2. There are specific notes that show the manuscript has been read. Does the agent refer to things that happen later in the book? Do they talk about the book structurally as a whole? Not connecting with your voice can be a generic comment (but true!). However, if the response mentions character’s names, your conflict, and relationships between characters not only do you know it’s been carefully reviewed, but the agent also felt it necessary to pass along their notes, which we rarely do. This is rare so cherish those notes.

3. They give you a R&R (i.e. Revise & Resubmit edit letter). This is the gold mine. This means an agent cares enough to have read your book, share their opinions about it, and they have thought long and hard about how to improve it. It means they could see themselves representing it. It means they have a vision for it. Believe me, agents take this seriously and writers should too. If you get an R&R look at the feedback, see if it aligns with your vision and makes it better. If so, take some time to make those change and resubmit.

Remember: agents never say things they don’t mean. If they open the door to conversation make sure you take it seriously. We don’t throw around R&Rs. We only engage in feedback and conversations with authors we’re interested in working with.

When agents respond to queries

Poll time: How valuable is it when agents send form rejection letters?

At both agencies I’ve worked at we respond to query letters with form rejections. I know there is a movement not to respond: a ‘no answer means no’ policy. So how important is a rejection letter to you? Share your feedback in the comments section or answer the poll here.

Ask the Agent: Your Questions Answered! Part IV

Question from Renee:
I sent a query letter into an agent that looked fine on my screen but when I looked to see what it looked like it was all scrunched together. Are agents forgiving of computer glitches?

Subjective question, but in all honesty these are things you should be checking before you send them to agents. You should email your query to yourself, your partner, your friends–whoever will look at it!–to see how it looks in email format. To me, format does make an impression, but it’s not the end of the world.

Question from Jackie:
Continue reading Ask the Agent: Your Questions Answered! Part IV