I received a rejection on my full manuscript today.
Thanks so much for sending THE FAKE MCCOY for my review. Let me start by saying, you have shown a wonderful voice and feel for the written word. I do see a "writer" in these pages, which hold so many wonderful moments. But overall, while the characters appeal, they do not achieve sufficient depth and are sometimes overshadowed by "issues" that plague; and while narrative has dimensions of interest, pacing is uneven and plot line feel familiar and somewhat predictible. As a result, the tensions and connections you seek to build do not reach their potential.
If I might offer a bit of advice... I would change the title (this one doesn't do your story justice), looking to something a bit more representative... perhaps Life Behind the 8-Ball; or 8-Balls and Empathy? I would weed out some secondary characters that don't bring a great deal to the table, and look to focus on those that matter. More importantly, I would also look for some angle that would set this teen story apart from the many others out there, giving you the blend of humor and pathos your voice carries so well. I wonder if the empathy rules of the IC class might be made a stronger part of your story, with Seth and Rosetta using them in humorous and meaningful ways as a guide to relationships and decision-making?
Of course, I am but one humble opinion, and surely, others may feel quite differently. Please know I very much appreciate this opportunity to have considered this work and send you all good wishes.
I do appreciate that she gave me some concrete criticisms and suggestions. It was very kind, and more than most agents have done for me. But it is hard to know what the heck she's talking about without specific examples. Like, where is the pacing uneven? Everywhere? I know that writers aren't the best judges of their own work, but I'm pretty good at spotting uneven pacing in other people's writing. So, I'm not sure where I would focus on fixing my own. I put it together in such a way that I felt was even at the time. You know?
I'm also not sure which of those secondary characters should be elimated. I can think of two who don't add a lot (the drummer in Seth's first band, and the guitarist in the second), but they appear infrequently and are there to keep the story realistic. I guess I could just never have them appear? I'm not sure. I'm not sure who else is in there who needs to go.
I do like her ideas for the title change. Immediately upon finishing the "final" draft, my husband said, "I think you're going to have a hard time keeping your title. Some editor out there is probably going to want something with an 8-Ball in it." He might very well have been right!
Anyway, I'm not really in a place to look at this letter as complimentary. My eyes kind of scan over those parts and focus on how it basically seems like this agent thinks the whole book sucks.