There is a lot of advice out there for writers, much of it good. One bit I took firmly to heart was that submissions should be targeted to agents or editors when seeking publication. You'll have better luck--they say--if you submit to someone who likes the books you like and works with books in the genre you write. Makes sense, no?
I only sent a query letter to one agent: Suzie Townsend. Our favorite books were eerily similar (Enders Game, Time Traveler's Wife, etc) and, from her blog, I knew she supported and loved books similar to my own (Lucky, Speak, etc). Basically, it seemed destined that we should work together (yeah, I'm superstitious that way). But, apparently, it wasn't.
I got my form rejection a week after I sent the query. It was crushing, of course, and at first I felt like I'd made a huge mistake even sending it. I'd been impulsive. And, worst of all there wasn't even a shred of feedback to know what the problem was as she saw it. Maybe my book just sucked? But then I realized something: If Suzie, to whom I'd targeted the submission so carefully, wasn't intrigued enough by my query and first 10 pages to request more, then that by itself told me a lot. It told me that 1. My query wasn't strong enough--I hadn't managed to show what set my book apart from others. and 2. I'd started my novel in the wrong place. The opening wasn't gripping enough.
Somehow that knowledge put me into the zone that all writers crave--you know the one, where your brain actually starts working? Mine was like a laser on my manuscript. All the separate pieces looked like little glowing nuggets that could be rearranged into a new order, a better order, a more gripping order. I then rewrote them enough that they transitioned smoothly and that seemed to shake loose the understanding of what elements of the story actually really set my book apart. After that I was able to write a new, much better query letter, and voila! I had a much, much stronger submission in my hands. All because of a form rejection.
So, thank you, Suzie! My editor says he doesn't foresee extensive revisions and I think I know why.