Tuesday, October 30, 2007

More on Rejections - Surprise!

Well! I'm less likely to respond to people flaming each other if I don't seem to be the one flamed, but I will answer some questions. Oh, and to clear things up, these segments are from different people's posts.

So Rejecter, if the personalized rejection comes five months after sending a requested partial which in turn came five months after sending a query, do I punch myself in the face or tell the agent's assistant (who, by the way, had no idea what he was talking about with respect to the subject matter - believe me, I know: I've heard from enough agents who DO understand the subject matter)to get F'ed?

You waited five months for a response from a query? Wow. The partial thing is not a surprise to me. Response time on requested material is slow. But if the whole process took 10 months, yeah, that is a little obnoxious, but surely you submitted to a ton of other agencies at the same time, right?

You can tell the assistant to get fucked only on the condition that you supply the money for the prostitute, with the understanding that the assistant might go spend it on a new hard drive instead. Or some DVD box set. Either one.

Here's to the fucking assholes of the world: they'll always be there and so will the professionals who see this whole process as a business.

We do classify our work as "business," at least to the IRS. Then books become a "business expense." Also agents rely on author's proceeds to pay the rent and electricity bill and stuff, so it actually needs to be a profitable business.

The agent in question has a blog where they blabber on about their vacations, and stuff they're doing with their kids and how they've been to this conference and that looking for clients, yet they can't keep their "house" in order with respect to projects they've requested. ... This agent reminds me of a part-time real estate agent - they were that unprofessional.

Not all agents act professionally all the time. Just like anyone in any other business.

I once got a rejection back from an agency on a partial after 3 days. The (requested) partial was 50 pages. No way they read it. And there were no sticky fingermarks, coffee rings, mustard stains or dog-eared pages on the pathetic pristine pages I got back. Nah, they didn't read it.

I would put my money on the idea that they did. We tend to treat submissions fairly professionally, especially if you supplied return postage for the entire submission. I don't smoke, drink coffee, wear lipstick, or dog-ear pages, and my hands are washed on a regular basis, so for the most part the partial looks the same when I'm done with it as when I started, and if it's going back to the author, I generally put it back together and make the neat before it goes in the envelope.

20 comments:

Don said...

The writer of this diatribe should look up "irony" in the dictionary.

I used to publish a graphic design magazine. I read everything that came in and would actively work with anyone who had something that might be made publishable if it it wasn't already. That big gaping maw of a feature well which turned empty once every issue was put to bed was a big incentive to seek out new authors.

Likewise with agents. Unless you've managed to stumble on being the agent for Dan Brown or J.K Rowlings, you need to actually sell stuff to pay the bills, and I would assume that a partial request meant that the query was promising. But query quality and manuscript quality are not always correlated so I can see partial requests not leading to full requests. That's just how things work.

I met an author at a reading a couple months ago who had had his query letter give him 50 rejections. I tried as politely as possible to suggest to him that this was a sign that his query needed to be looked at again so he could determine whether he was doing a good job of selling his book (or perhaps whether he had written something which just wasn't publishable, like the story of a boy wizard who discovers that his red-haired girlfriend is, in fact, the descendent of Mary Magdalene and Jesus).

Madge Sinclair said...

I have to agree with Don. Honestly I don't understand why people wait so long for a response to a query or a request for a partial without following up. Miss Snark said to follow up after 30-60 days, but to wait 5 to 10 months?! Hell at my age, I can't wait for anyone or anything. It's got be done now, now, now!

K.B. said...

Wow. I do stumble across authors like Mr. Preciousness on boards now and then, but somehow they still take me by surprise. This author truly needs to:

1) Get over himself. Even if he writes like Hemmingway or Capote, not everyone likes Hemmingway or Capote. Even agents.

2) Get real. The whole world is not waiting with bated breath to read his deathless prose.

2) Get educated. He really, really needs to understand how this industry works. He really, really needs to understand that it IS an industry. Writing may be an art (or a craft, or both), but publishing is a business, for writer, agent, and publisher. The sooner one accepts that, the sooner one can get over it and on with the bits that really count. Writing is critical. Ranting is not.

Coffee stains and sticky fingermarks, indeed. I should expect a professional agent or editor to treat a manuscript better than that, and so they have.

Solidus said...

"there were no sticky fingermarks, coffee rings, mustard stains or dog-eared pages on the pathetic pristine pages I got back."

So, this author requested their partial to be returned, presumably on the basis that they wanted to be able to reuse it on other submissions. And then they're complaining that the partial was returned in a condition that made that future reuse possible? Bizarre.

All I can think is that they only asked for the partial to be returned so that they could check whether it had been read (some forensic tests may be in order...) in order to bitch about it if they got rejected.

If I was an agent (I'm not, I'm a desk editor) this would seriously turn me off working with this person.

Anonymous said...

I'm not quite sure why writers feel so entitled to special treatment and are unable to comprehend how big a part rejection is of this business.

Consider the unemployed actor, going on auditions. How often will he be told he's brilliant and hired on the first go-round?

Or a realtor? How frequently do they get shot down when trying for a listing?

Or any sort of salesperson, trying to close a deal? How often have you gone into a car dealership just to "kick tires," and ran some poor salesman's butt off trying to sell you?

It's the business. You are competing with thousands of similarly talented persons. You need to be the right "flavor" at the right time, in the right place. You don't get there by having a bad attitude about rejection. You keep going.

I've heard lots of stories about John Grisham and his hundreds of rejections. I never heard of John Grisham having a bad attitude or giving up.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes: the know-it-alls come out of the woodwork, missing the point of the diatribe which was supposed to be a warning to other writers as well as a source of ironical and humorous entertainment.

The only reason I followed up with Ms. Ten-Month at all was because I was preparing to start querying an entirely new project. Since sending the partial to that lazy-ass agent, the MS in question was picked up by a small, but very legitimate publishing house. (When the offer came in, the only outstanding partial/full was in the hands of lazy-ass agent whom I had already deleted from my database, assuming no response after a cummulative 8 months, meant no interest.)

As I began the process of compiling a list of agents for my new project, I realized that Lazy-ass also represents its genre. So I made a decision: if lazy-ass' response to my request for an update was she never recieved the long-lost partial, the agency would stay on my list (albeit at the bottom.) Needless to say, after receiving her response, the subject of my "diatribe," she was off the list for good. (Like she cares?)

By the way, my initial query elicited requests for additional material about one out of five times. Problem with the project, which I knew going in, was the small market it was likely to attract, which in turn, is an issue in finding an agent. One agent, who read the full in under two weeks and invited me to resubmit future work, explained the realities of the big publishing houses: before taking on a project, they do a profit and loss estimate and the agent was passing because he didn't believe my first project would pass muster. Needless to say, that agent is now first on my list.

Anonymous said...

Rejecter - Now I understand why you don't like literary fiction: you have a great sense of humor!

Thomas said...

Rejections of any kind sting but is it really worth getting worked up about.

Devote that energy to writing.

Kidlitjunkie said...

And there were no sticky fingermarks, coffee rings, mustard stains or dog-eared pages on the pathetic pristine pages I got back. Nah, they didn't read it.

Seriously, that’s the dumbest thing ever. This is an office, not a zoo. I don’t spit on my fingers before turning the pages, or use your manuscript as a coaster so it can develop coffee rings. If it looks pristine, it’s probably because I read it while sitting at my desk, and then put it back in an envelope, all while sitting at my desk, without dragging it to a restaurant, my dinner table, or the playground.

And sometimes it takes me a long time to read stuff, and sometimes when it comes in, I happen to have a pocket of free time. It all gets read, though.

Anonymous said...

Either way it's a tough spot... hopeful writer vs. beleagured agent.

I've found most agents to be nice, friendly and cordial... but painfully SLOOOOW.

I'm at the 2-month mark w/five agents who seemed very excited to receive the full MS to read.

I didn't want to over-submit. Now I'm thinking I should have... what to do... what to do?

Mrs. Revis said...

OMG. I can't believe anyone who wants to be published can look at publishing as anything OTHER than a business. What an over pretentious amateur. May he suffer for his "art." corwinheart

Andrew said...

Anonymous 8:50: I'd have to say my entertainment was pretty "ironical." You succeeded! Ironically!

Chumplet said...

Oh, my dear... sometimes I want to just give you a great big hug.

Anonymous said...

I'm "mustard stains and sticky fingers". This was meant largely IN SARCASM.

And my query didn't request the pages back--they could've recycled them for all I cared, since the project was out elsewhere. The time frame was what framboozled me.

I later sold the book myself, so no loss.

The above was NOT SARCASM.

Josephine Damian said...

Wanna-be writer wrote:

I once got a rejection back from an agency on a partial after 3 days. The (requested) partial was 50 pages. No way they read it. And there were no sticky fingermarks, coffee rings, mustard stains or dog-eared pages on the pathetic pristine pages I got back. Nah, they didn't read it.

Rejector wrote:

I would put my money on the idea that they did.

Josephine opines:
I would put my money on the idea that the agent read as far as they needed to read until they saw the story/writing/characters sucked, which probably was obvious on the first page.

Slob or not, a reader/agent will make quick work of a bad submission - an MS won't be physically handled much, nor will more time be wasted.

I see this attitude all the time in my writers group, people who say "the agent NEVER read it cause it's SO great I just KNOW they'd LOVE it if they had."

Puh-lease!

As much as I remind them it's an agents JOB to read, the agent WANTS to find the next big thing, and to do so they have to READ IT, but it only takes a page or two to know if a writer's got it or not.

But they never listen to me, and go on submitting and complaining.

Jeesh.

Anonymous said...

I once read this on an agent blog:
"I've never had a big book come from an unsolicited query...all the big books I've ever had I've either gone after or were nurtured for many years." It's one of those smug blog posts you don't forget, and it was written by a reputable agent who is in the business for many years.

And then there's another blog where the agent readily admits to being totally confused all the time about everything. This one complains about the weather, sinus problems, the stacks of queries and no time to deal with them. It's actually pretty pathetic, and yet this one doesn't see anything wrong with putting it down in writing for the entire web community to see. I'd be mortified to let anyone know I was so trashy and inept. But this one does it with a chip on the shoulder, too.

Well, after you read all this you have to question just how serious the whole query business is, and then you have to wonder if it's even worth giving it all a second thought.

The Grump said...

Aahh, the frustration of it all.

Sorry, they are taking it out on you. People should guess that ... maybe ... the reason they don't get the positive response they want is because they haven't reached the square that starts the game.

Adrienne said...

Anonymous 4:02

Dude I totally get where you are coming from, but I don't think two agents are representative of the whole. Let us not forget that while many agents blog, many many more do not, so to draw a general consensus even from reading ALL agent blogs out there, would not be accurate.

Next don't forget that the blogging medium is a tricky one to get a handle of. Some people are strangely personal in them, admitting to things they probably wouldn't in an office environment. I doubt there are many professionals out there that can't tell me in their line of work haven't had "messy" moments. They simply just don't advertise it.

I am not trying to defend these blogs, in fact I am not a fan of professional blogs that then go on about the person's private life. But I am just saying that you probably shouldn't colour all agents with the same brush stroke.

As for pulling books out of the query slush, most of the authors I know got agents in exactly this way. It can happen. It does happen.

Karen Duvall said...

Hey, Anon 4:02 a.m., I know just what agent you're talking about re: complaining and apparently inept. At least I think I do, because when I started reading this person's blog I thought, whoa, thanks for the warning. So it might be good that some agents use their blog to rant and whine because then those of us on the agent search can avoid the personalities who make us, uh, uncomfortable.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 4:02 and Karen Duval - I'm one of the original posters who got this whole thing going - and I think we're ALL talking about the same agent.

First I wasn't sure how she was paying her bills. Then I figured it out: she's kind like the discount store version of an agent: big volume, spotty quality - (I'm talking about th quality of her service, not the quality of her quthors.) But I must say, she sure is good when it comes to whining and talking about herself.

IMHO, she and her ilk give the agenting business a bad name.