Think YOU Don’t Like Pass Letters?
Neither do I. Here’s a look at some that have hit my inbox:
“It’s not clear who the intended audience really is.”
“It felt like a class research paper at times.”
“I like the plot and hate the execution.”
“The setup has so much potential for conflict, yet the story is dull.”
“The content and premise just aren’t strong enough to overcome the current lack of platform.”
“Even though the writer’s talent is quite evident, it moved a bit slow in the early chapters.”
“I found that I wasn’t drawn into the material the way you must have been.”
“There is some great stuff in here—the author’s voice, honesty, and firsthand experience. There were, however, concerns about the marketability, author platform, and audience.”
“Our Board was unable to catch the vision… just too risky… did not have the uniqueness we were looking for.”
“I don’t think the writing is strong enough to overcome all the clichés in the plot.”
“The main character isn’t very likable up front. I think the reader is going to need to like her sooner, even if they don’t necessarily like her actions or decisions.”
“I liked it, but wasn’t sure it was unique enough to stand out. I was going back on forth on it, and I guess that means that ultimately I’m going to have to pass.”
“Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have a strong enough hook for us to be able to take it on, so I am sorry to have to pass.”
“I didn’t think the writing was quite as sharp as other [genre] novels I’ve read. This one didn’t quite nail it for us.”
“With no publishing history or national media connections or big-name endorsers, I won’t be able to get this through committee. We’re not looking for first-time authors right now unless they bring stunning writing and some kind of promotional hook.”
“I feel like I’ve read this all before, somewhere. So I’m going to pass.”
“We were unable to catch the really big vision for the project that it deserves. Personally, I was intrigued by it and wanted to take it to make an offer, but didn’t get the support I needed. My instincts tell me this could be huge.”
“I’m afraid this concept would be dead here before it even started.”
“Unfortunately, when I brought it up at our editorial meeting, some of my colleagues felt that this didn’t have the emotional depth they would liked to see in story like this, and I was unable to convince them.”
These are actual excerpts from rejection letters written by editors at major publishing houses.
Every one of these projects went on to sell to a publisher who loved it.
So what’s the lesson here?
P.S. While many projects are repeatedly revised before finding a publisher, these examples are ALL from projects that sold with no further revision.