This may seem like a super trivial distinction to draw, but it matters. A lot. Think about it this way: how many times has your book club, or circle of friends, or extended Italian family, or whoever, read the same book and had completely different opinions about it? All. The. Time. I don't think my book club has ever given a unanimous thumbs-up for a book. And we're just twelve lovely ladies who like to drink wine (shout to The Novel Bites!).
I have so many good friends out on sub right now. So many twitter buddies are out there climbing the same mountain, and generally feeling terrible about each rejection. Or rather, each pass. I'm calling it a pass, because, really, that's what's happening. You are being passed on to the next agent. And that next agent might just be your match.
What does that mean, exactly? Your match is an agent, or editor, or publisher who reads your novel and gets it. As in, if they had attempted to write your novel, it would've come out similarly to what you wrote(except better).
NOT: I read this and have so many suggestions that what would result is a completely different novel.Your match will love your novel. They will say they loved it. They will be full of ideas which make total sense to you, and are an evolution of your own thinking. Working with your match will be like working with you, only a better you who's done this many times and has the experience to push your novel to its absolute best. Chances are, you do not have this quality within you. That's why you need the right match.
NOT: I read this and kind of liked it but think you should change the setting to Japan in the 14th century with midget twins for MCs.
NOT: I like this.
Note, not a good match. Not a thank-God-they-want-me match. But the right match . . . and there are only a handful of agents out there who will match you. So if someone says they are not your match, it's really okay. There is absolutely NO WAY that any one writer could be every agent's match. We're all different flavors. Only the right pairing works.
For more wonderful cartoons about a writer's life, please hop on over to one of my very favorite sites, Inkygirl! Seriously awesome illustration and writing awaits you.
If you need help finding a match, check out Agent Query, Publishers Marketplace, and my personal favorite, Literary Rambles, which offers in-depth info on each agent's profile. And if you're working on a query, check out this post on query resources.