“Please forgive my incredibly slow response, but I liked your writing and had put it aside to get back to. It’s not right for my list, but I’m sure you will find an agent to suit.”
The cynical may say it’s pretty standard, but this was a personal note added after the formal printed text. Me, I regard it as a near miss.
The last few replies from agents have said nice things about my writing: “well-written”, “intelligent”, “your work is good”, so I’m happy that the quality of my work is at publishable level.
It’s the list thing. Publishing is at an uncertain place and I can understand that companies are opting for the safe and known. I write thrillers with an alternative history setting, which is probably speculative in all senses of the word.
But I have faith, but hopefully not hubris, that my books will be published.