Karin Gillespie had a link in her blog about the words that agents use. Here's an excerpt from that article:
"Like all professionals, literary agents are often reluctant to express their true feelings about a manuscript, and freight their rejection letters with euphemisms. And for good reason. Who needs an argument with an author you're never going to work with? The following glossary, offered with tongue in cheek, might help literary hopefuls decipher messages received from agents in response to their work:
"Interesting - Boring
Has potential - Amateurish
Moving - Show it to Mom
Needs work - Hopeless
Mid-list - Won't sell
Intelligent - See 'interesting'
Ambitious - Too long
Spare - Too short
Poetic - Insomniacs only
Plot-driven - Superficial
Excellent - Possible, with a rewrite
Cinematic - Unreadable
Marketable - People will buy anything
Challenging - See 'poetic'
At this time (as in, we can't use it at this time) - Never
Experimental - In your dreams
Character-driven - No story
Novel of ideas - No one will read it
Talented - How did you get in here?"
And see, mj, I thought ambitious meant the author had gone "all out" and brought something fresh and exciting to the table.
Up to this point, I would have been flattered to have that word tossed at me. I could see myself perched in front of an agent: "Miss. Hausen, this manuscript is quite ambitious," he'd say.
"Oh, thank you."
Then he'd roll his eyes.
This is what matters: acceptance and support of your work. If it's a rejection, it doesn't matter what they say.
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