So far, Drayton has been rejected by a handful of agents. That's not a big deal. All you can do is to keep shopping it until you find the agent or publisher who's on the right wave length, something which, I suspect, involves some level of luck. The right person has to come across it on the right day. And the more that you send your proposal out, the better the chances are that you'll come across the right person.
There's something to that "making your own luck" stuff.
Now, not all rejections are equal. Sometimes you get a form, if you mailed your submission, or some copy-and-pasted standard text, if you submitted electronically. And that's fine. That sort of rejection is not especially meaningful in any direction. You wrote something and they didn't want it. Fair enough.
On occasion--and it's an occasion that's becoming more and more frequent in my case--the rejection comes in the form of a personal note. This is a step up, first of all because you know that your stuff got some serious level of consideration. There had to be at least one glittering moment when the person evaluating the work thought "This might have possibilities." And, if you can get somebody to go that far, you just might be able to get the next person to go further.
At the least, it is encouraging.
I received just such a rejection from an agent this past weekend, and I took a chance and emailed him to thank him for his consideration and to ask him a couple of questions so that I could properly approach the rewrite I had started to realize was in order. In his response to that--and I really have to thank this guy some day--he noted "that the tone wasn't really hitting the high notes" in his opinion. Now, I had only sent him the first five chapters, and the high notes don't really start cropping up until Chapter Six.
I've thought it over, and three things occur to me. First, the opening chapters need a major rewrite in order to bring the tone in line with the rest of the manuscript. Second, while I'm at it, I might as well brush up the whole thing. And third, I have to approach this as being more than just a mystery. I need to turn Michael Drayton, Detective Guy into a great book.
Louis Armstrong used to get into challenges with other trumpeters at jam sessions, and he would rip off 200 high Cs in a row. I can do the same thing and need to.
What's holding this book back are the remnants of parody left from the early versions of the story. It's time to bury those for good. Right now, I'm ruminating. I'm hoping to start writing by the end of the week.