I was chatting with a writer friend who had gotten some feedback from agents who had rejected her manuscript. A lot of these comments were sort of vague things like “The pacing is off” or “The character isn’t very relatable” without further explanation.
I was sympathizing with my friend when I realized that I was guilty of doing the same thing to manuscripts I reject. I’ve given a lot of those sort of pieces of vague advice.
Almost all of the partials or fulls I request are at least reasonably well written. That makes them harder to reject. You feel for the author and want them to succeed. You also feel you owe it to them to let them know why you’re passing on their project. Vague advice is annoying, but I think that not having any reason for the rejection would be worse.
And yet, we’re too busy to give an in depth critique. Sometimes I have a hard time pinpointing just what isn’t working, since I don’t have time to comb through the manuscript again. So you give this general, “the character feels off” or some other such thing.
As an author, you have to do what you can with that. Just remember to stay true to your vision of the book and keep writing.