When I go to a bookstore, I walk straight past the romance and horror and non-fiction over to the fantasy and science fiction section, and often browse the young adult (YA) aisles as well. Even though I know there are great books on the other shelves, those are the genres I’m interested in reading.
Now I want to find a book.
What I’m looking for depends on my personal tastes, what I last read, what kind of story I prefer, and what I consider to be a “good” book. My friends have different opinions and they have loved books that have done nothing for me, and I’ve been crazy about a book that they found “okay”.
In order to make a decision about which book to buy, I read the back copy. Sometimes I put the book back, sometimes I start reading the first chapter. I know within the first few pages whether or not I want to spend 3-4 hours with that book.
When I finally choose a book, buy it, and walk out of the bookstore, it’s nothing personal against all of those other authors .. but I have just rejected them.
Now – take that above situation and translate it in to an agent’s world … far more people than they could ever represent, some queries that appeal to them more than others, deciding which manuscript they want to spent 1-2 years of their life with, and then sending out rejections to the rest. Nothing personal, the agent just didn’t choose your book.