You’ve already heard that writing is subjective. Everyone’s tastes are different. That doesn’t mean a rejection doesn’t sting.

Furthermore, how do you know when something is really just subjectivity as opposed to a real problem in your manuscript? This can be a tricky distinction to make. CPs can help give a second opinion. But at the end of the day, you need to decide whether certain advice really will help you maintain your vision of the book or not.

I got the following feedback on my full from an agent I deeply admire:

I prefer a slightly more formal/historic feeling voice for fantasies (to align with the times there were princes and battle fields) and this feels a bit contemporary for my tastes.

I thought about this a lot. I could go through and change the language in the book. But I liked the more casual, contemporary tone of my book. I found I didn’t want to change it, even if I did have a lot of respect for the agent giving the feedback.

Agents are well aware of the subjectivity involved as well, as indicated in emails from several of my rejections.

As you know, these opinions are largely subjective and another agent or editor may have an opinion completely different from mine.

I’ve decided to step aside, but I’m sure another agent will feel differently.

Subjectivity can be brutal, but it’s also what makes reading and writing fun. If everyone liked the same things and there was some formula for writing a book everyone liked, it wouldn’t be nearly as fun.

2 thoughts on “Subjectivity

  1. I had a similar experience. My MG fantasy takes place in the early 800s and some agents made comments about wanting the voice less contemporary. Like you, I disagreed, and believed the voice needed to be contemporary. I’m glad I did since I wound up signing with my dream agent and shorty thereafter, signed with a publisher.

    It can be hard going against the advice of other people in the writing profession, especially people who have more experience than you. The thing to remember is that only you know the whole story and how it should be told. People can offer you advice but it is up to the writer to determine which advice helps the story and which doesn’t.

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