Thursday, April 24, 2008

...I'm at a loss.

Anonymous said...

I'm a literary agent who's been on both sides of the desk. After about 4000 rejections for my own MS I got a job with a reputable agency, 30 years in biz.

In 4000 e-mail queries, I found a single snotty agent. He's opened himself to humiliation one day, as this kind of hilarity can make valuable copy.

This is no 9-to-fiver. One is up 'til the wee hours looking for quality work. In 2000 queries I found a single potential -- who didn't even follow submission rules. This first-timer is now getting thumbs-up from several "Big Guys." That's good writin'.

This is what puts food on our tables. Nobody I've rejected has got anywhere so far. We all keep watch to see how right or wrong we are.

Writers who have time for bitterness can't be very certain of themselves.

We get TONS of proposals from self-healed or been healed of something; a client's associate, incidentally, is going on Oprah for that.

My friends who have overcome worse hardships may never be heard from.

There's no pathology in turning down uninspiring queries. Many sound fraudulent. Let's get "obnoxious:" many were just too dumb to stay out of trouble. People that dumb may think they deserve a book contract and TV accolades, but their peers don't buy books anyhow.

This is a response in my "You Are Not Special" post.

Someone please explain it to me.

P.S. There are not 4000 literary agents in the United States. Maybe in the world. Maybe. And that's including assistants. And the cleaning lady who works in the agency building.

19 comments:

leesmiley said...

Sounds like Miss Snark's been hitting the gin a bit too hard in her retirement.

Mimzy said...

If you take each individual paragraph and act like it is all on it's own then that post makes a little sense. Not much, but you can at least *pretend* that it makes a little sense.

Why on Earth would you send your "I survived bad stuff" novel to a literary fiction agent anyway? In the event I ever wrote one I'd be sending it to agents who represent religious or nonfiction self-help books personally.

Deb said...

The commenter never said there are 4,000 literary agents. He said he'd sent out 4,000 queries. But likely he was talking in hyperbole. Sometimes it seems like we've been querying and trying forever, with little return on the time.

Anonymous said...

None of the 1999 people this agent rejected has gotten anywhere? Who has time to keep tabs on 1999 aspiring authors? Just think about how long it would take to search Amazon for each of those author names.

Julia Weston said...

Um, what? To expand on leesmiley's comment, perhaps we should hit the gin tank and then we'll better understand the post.

Ulysses said...

Can't explain it, sorry.
Can't understand it, actually.

Annalee said...

Benefit of the doubt would be they had multiple MSes they were querying, so ended up sending several queries to the same agents.

Non-benefit of the doubt would be *shrug,* the internet's full of people who misrepresent themselves. Someone wants a bit of anonymous "I'm totally an agent!" cred, and couldn't be bothered to get the key details right.

Andrew Wheeler said...

Let me take a crack at it. Anonymous is in italics, my translation in bold.

I'm a literary agent who's been on both sides of the desk. After about 4000 rejections for my own MS I got a job with a reputable agency, 30 years in biz.
I was rejected by umpty-zillion agents! Some as a client, some as an assistant! But I prevailed, and now I have a job!

In 4000 e-mail queries, I found a single snotty agent. He's opened himself to humiliation one day, as this kind of hilarity can make valuable copy.
Only one agent was ever less than polite to me when I was seeking representation. I will have my fiendish revenge one day.

This is no 9-to-fiver. One is up 'til the wee hours looking for quality work. In 2000 queries I found a single potential -- who didn't even follow submission rules. This first-timer is now getting thumbs-up from several "Big Guys." That's good writin'.
My job as an agent is difficult and the hours long. I work very hard even though nearly every single submission to me is mind-blastingly horrible. My taste in books is impeccable.

This is what puts food on our tables. Nobody I've rejected has got anywhere so far. We all keep watch to see how right or wrong we are.
Somehow, reading 1999 bad manuscripts brings in income. I stalk all my rejected clients. All agents do this.

Writers who have time for bitterness can't be very certain of themselves.
My smugness knows no bounds. Note that I have not mentioned selling my own 4000-times-submitted manuscript.

We get TONS of proposals from self-healed or been healed of something; a client's associate, incidentally, is going on Oprah for that.
I have the wrong client; I have been kicking myself for not signing up the associate. Also, is this client the same one who was the only readable MS in 2000?

My friends who have overcome worse hardships may never be heard from.
I am not confessing to murdering them, wink wink. Perhaps I am merely saying that having a bad life doesn't mean you can write worth a damn.

There's no pathology in turning down uninspiring queries. Many sound fraudulent. Let's get "obnoxious:" many were just too dumb to stay out of trouble. People that dumb may think they deserve a book contract and TV accolades, but their peers don't buy books anyhow.
I reiterate my amazing ability to detect great writing. I also cast aspersions on people who have bad things happen to them and then write about it. In closing, poor people are stupid.

Not sure if it makes any more sense that way, to be honest...

Anonymous said...

This person has no idea how to communicate effectively--and they are judging queries? Frightening.

Liane said...

Well, I'm never going to beat Mr. Wheeler's crack at it, but here's my take:

"I would like attention plz. Didn't have much luck getting any with my query letters, somehow, so let's give it a shot in blog comments!"

Bernie said...

I haven't a clue as to what the person is trying to say. After reading that I would guess that 4000 rejections is an understatement, not hyperbole.

To be honest, I don't think that it was created by a human. It reminds me of a computer generated summary of a larger amount of text. Perhaps it is a new way that spammers are trying to hide the fact that they are spammers.

Belvoir said...

"My friends who have overcome worse hardships may never be heard from.
I am not confessing to murdering them, wink wink. "

Laughed aloud at that one..


"I reiterate my amazing ability to detect great writing. I also cast aspersions on people who have bad things happen to them and then write about it. In closing, poor people are stupid."

And again. Well done.
:)

Anonymous said...

Clear writing is a result of clear thinking.
This guy/gal is clearly on the moon. I don't think there is anyone on Earth who'd send out 4000 queries before quitting.

a cat of impossible colour said...

Perhaps it's someone who doesn't speak English as their first language and used one of those online instant-translator things to make their text into garbled English?

Because it's pretty damn incomprehensible.

The Rejecter said...

My theory is that this person is one of the spammer fake literary agency guys and he forgot or was too ashamed to add the address.

Rob said...

"In 4000 e-mail queries..."

Forgive me if someone else posted this observation, but even if there were 4,000 agents, from what I've researched many don't accept e-queries.

"...I found a single snotty agent."
I have a theory about that too. Maybe the person sending out 4,000 e-queries sent them all to the same agent. That could have made him snotty.

LindaBudz said...

andrew wheeler, omg ... thank you for that!

Anonymous said...

That's right, Deb. You can make 4000 queries over the course of a couple years and that's what I did.
No hyperbole. Prob'ly more. It's easy to do with the internet, one single query at a time, wait awhile, requery some.

Advice: take the time to at least put the agent's name on your form queries. And yes you too can do 4000 if you like. And get just ONE snot-nosed reply, such as from Peter Rubie. Or this asshole "leesmiley."

Yes, you bet, none of the 1999 people rejected have gotten anywhere -- so far. Anyway, it's most probable. It's easy enough to take a representative sample, and easier to check who's made deals with whom, and so on. Then search your own computer records with a search to see if anybody who queried you has made a deal.

That's right, read each individual paragraph for its own. This is internet. You've got to speed up your own comprehensions, people. If you can't, join "leesmiley" and get nowhere, forever.

Oh. Sorry, at least two snot-noses here. Andrew Wheeler, genius.

Out of time. Work to do.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the person was saying there are 4000 agents but that, it's the # 0f rejections he/ she recieved. it was a basic agreement with you that writers should quit whining and suck it up if their writing does indeed suck.