My First Rejection Letter from a Literary Agent!

I just received my first rejection letter from a literary agent!ย That makes me feel somehow more official as an author. I wrote “Rejection #1” and hung it on my writing room wall. Methinks it’ll soon have plenty of company.

With Love,



About russtowne

I'm awed by the beauty of nature and the power of love and gratitude. Some of my favorite sensory experiences include waves crashing on rocky shores, waterways in ancient redwood and fern-filled forests, and rain. My wife and I have been married since 1979. We have 3 adult children and 5 grandchildren. I manage a wealth management firm that I founded in 2003. My Beloved is a Special Education teacher for Kindergartners and First Graders. I'm a published author of approximately 60 books in a variety of genres for grownups and children.
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36 Responses to My First Rejection Letter from a Literary Agent!

  1. Didi Oviatt says:

    YES!! Good for you, I keep mine too lol! Great minds think alike I guess. The more you query – the more rejections you get. Prof you’ve done much, and motivation to do more ๐Ÿ™‚ keep it up my friend, and so will I ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Sorry to hear it, Russ. Was it handwritten or a form letter?

    • russtowne says:

      It was a very polite form letter which included a “don’t give up!” message. She answered in three days (which I believe is about a month faster than average) and many agents don’t acknowledge a query at all, saying, If you don’t hear from me in X weeks/months I’m not interested.” In essence, “If your phone’s not ringing, it’s me not calling.” Some agencies get hundreds of queries per week, so I understand that writing personalized rejection letters would take up too much of the time that they could be pitching books to publishers and reading more queries.


      • Thank you, Russ. I’ve seen some rejection form letters where someone adds a couple words with pen , a short personal note too.

        • russtowne says:

          I would especially appreciate receiving such a note from them, Tess. It would help me to learn and adjust so the next time I query them I’ll be more likely to have what they want. I understand why most don’t do that, but it would just make me appreciate the ones who do all the more.

          • Exactly. That’s what everyone would like but these guys and gals are super busy. Sigh.

            • russtowne says:

              The upside is that when an agent who doesn’t send personalized rejection letters to everyone represents me, she will spend more time pitching my books than she would if she spent most of her time sending those letters. I said “she” because it appears to me that over 90% of the agents who represent my primary genre are women (which didn’t surprise me.)

  3. Sounds as though you are having the time of your life!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Annette! I focus on making every moment be the time of my life. I certainly don’t always succeed, and sometimes miserably fail, but having that focus has helped me to create a life that often comes dangerously close to blissful.


  4. Ah, I have a collection growing! You have a great attitude! Keep writing and inspiring!

  5. Mrs. P says:

    I read the first line and felt the sting but your attitude is so fantastic that I realized your approach is a much healthier one. ๐Ÿ˜€

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Mrs P. Rejection letters can be kind of like the rain. I can either choose to love or curse them, but both are going to come either way. The rejections and rain don’t care. I might as well dance and sing in them, and splash in the puddles, reveling in each moment.

  6. Funny enough Russ, when I read that the first thing I thought was “SUCH VALIDATION!!!” ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. ksbeth says:

    i think this is a wonderful first step as you follow the path you were meant to walk. i love that you are posting it!

  8. utesmile says:

    Sorry to hear that, but I love your attitude. Keep collecting them… ๐Ÿ™‚ You never know what happens!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Ute. I’m a storyteller. Which story is more interesting, “I got agency representation after 10 rejections”, or “I got agency representations after 100 rejections”?
      ;-D! On the other hand, never getting agency representation no matter how many rejections I send out would not only not be an interesting story, it would, uh, what’s a polite word for “SUCK?”

  9. JanBeek says:

    Someday that literary agent will be very sorry! Keep the queries going. You’ll find a wise one.

  10. Not good, kinda sucks but keep on trying

  11. tunisiajolyn84 says:

    โค your perspective! Just one more step towards your goal!

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you! At first I was a bit intimidated to expose my babies to strangers who see hundreds of stories every week, but after the first queries, I’ve discovered somewhat to my surprise that I’m not only learning a lot, I’m actually having fun! And my confidence is gradually growing. Of course that may change after the first couple hundred rejections! ;-D!

      • tunisiajolyn84 says:

        That’s awesome Russ! And all you have to remember is that all the great writers have had at least 100 rejection letters before their masterpiece was accepted! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  12. Good attitude. I’ll dig my first one up and do the same.

    • russtowne says:

      Thank you, Brandon. If/when I get signed, I plan to frame my first rejection letter and keep it on a wall in my writing room as a reminder to take nothing for granted and of a milestone reached on a journey that won’t end while I’m still breathing. Good luck on your journey.


  13. J.W. Martin says:

    I would have run out of wall space by now!

    • russtowne says:

      I can relate. If you count “Timed-Outs” as rejections, I have a perfect score: 68 queries and 68 rejections. Hang in there. I wish you an ever-growing readership base.


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