Tuesday, October 31, 2006

More authors with sour grapes

Yesterday I received the following letter in the mail (edited to exclude personal information):

Dear Jenny:

Re: Bands of Blood - Now retitled

Thanks for your nice reply.
Just a follow-up since you took the time to write my name and sign the form letter.
I now have an agent. Here is what he says:

(what the person's agent says)

I often wonder what one person sees in a project that another doesn't see.
Since that writing three major publishing houses are reading the book.
Thanks for the luck wish looks like it has come true.


And then, on top of that nice little letter, he sent it back with my form rejection letter enclosed. Let me say, once and for all, that's just bad form, people.

Every single agent I know uses form rejection letters, and does so because they save immense amounts of time in the process. They may be impersonal, but if I think your writing is getting there, I write little notes alongside the letter, before I send it out. This guy must have been a query reject, since he's not in my manuscript log.

Please, please, please be polite to agents. It's only common courtesy. And for the record, this is what my form rejection letter says (and I sincerely mean every word of it too):

Dear (and here I write the author's name):

Thank you for thinking of the L. Perkins Agency. Unfortunately, at this time, I must decline your request for representation. Please keep in mind that I welcome queries from authors who have previously submitted projects to me. I wish you the best of luck in your writing career.

(signature of my name)
Jenny Rappaport
L. Perkins Agency


Kimber An said...

I don't understand what his big deal is, but then I just had a miscarriage so I know how rejection REALLY feels. Form rejections from literary agents are kisses blown in the wind to me. Love 'em. 'Specially yours, Jenny. You emailed me in the middle of the night! Woah! Writers who think of their books as their babies should try having real babies sometime. For the record, all the agents I've queried have been polite to me, whether rejecting queries or requested partials, and I have been polite to them. Here's a kiss for ya'll. (smack!)

James Dashner said...

It wasn't TOO bad until I saw he included the rejection letter. Odd.

I have a feeling he's about to face a brutal reality---something we've all learned. Having a major publishing house read your book is not the glorious end of the road. They, uh, have to buy it.

Hey, good luck to the poor kid. At least he didn't throw a neener neener neener in there.

Jenny Rappaport said...

Kimber An, I'm so sorry for you! I'm sending you virtual hugs and much sympathy!

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Jenny. I have a wonderful husband and mother-in-law looking after me. My living children are wonderful therapy too. I am blessed.

Bernita said...

Maybe he will learn.
My sympathies, Kimber An.
It's bitter hard.

ksgreer said...

While it wasn't medical, I did also go through a rejection that put a lot of querying into perspective: I was rejected for grad school, and then got a letter saying I got in, started the process of being poor for seven years, turned down three job offers, got all my ducks in a row... and then found out, two months later, that it'd been a clerical error in the system. I was not, in fact, accepted to the pretigious program.

To say I was crushed would pretty much be the understatement of the year.

At the same time, I'd sent out a batch of query letters, and when they came back as rejections, all I had to do was laugh. It's not like they were judging my entire *life*, not like the grad school process, they were only seeing one letter and a few pages of writing. Barely something to even blink at.

On the other hand, I have saved most of my rejection letters, and some day I'd like to be able to write three or four of those agents who first rejected me and say, "a long time ago I queried you, and while you rejected me, you took the time to say ____ about my work, giving me the encouragement and push I needed to keep going. Thanks for the little things."

Because sometimes, even just seeing "you write a great query" on the bottom of a rejection form letter can make your day just a little less...rejected. :)

Kimber An said...

Geez, ks, that's aweful! My husband is vulnerable to that kind of rejection once a year. He's in a profession where he has to pass a certain kind of physical examination at a certain level. If he doesn't, he loses his job, one which took years and years and thousands and thousands of dollars to attain. Every single year he's fit to be tied a month before that exam! Real Life is great. All writers should have one.

David said...

That fellow hasn't learned the proverb about not burning one's bridges.

Or perhaps he's he'll never again be in the position of looking for an agent.


Kimber An said...

Hey, david, leaves more agents for the rest of us!

Jennette said...

I so don't understand this. Sure, a rejection letter can be a polite response to writing that sucks, but when the writing has gained positive reactions elsewhere, it's more likely a matter that the writing simply didn't resonate with that particular agent.

And your politeness IS appreciated - I stupidly grabbed an old 37-cent stamp for my SASE, and you kindly added $.2 so I wouldn't be left hanging. My "thank you" is overdue, but no less sincere.

Sheila said...

Does it make you want to find the agent he does have and forward his nice note? :-) I'm feeling devious today!

But then would it really matter if you had a client, then saw he/she had been rude to other agents?

Kimber an - positive thoughts headed your (cyberspace)direction

Kimber An said...

Thanks, Sheila. I wonder if that writer realizes that even if he has an agent now, it doesn't mean he'll have one six months for now. His currant one may let him go and then he'll be starting over querying agents he's dissed. Not smart.

mdn said...

That is one defensive, angry dude. I just do not understand what he thought would be gained by sending that.

I think he needs to close his eyes and repeat three times: It's a business, it's not personal. If he doesn't learn that lesson, he is cruising for a bruising in publishing.

I'm very sorry for your loss, kimber an. You have my deepest sympathy.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Re: Bitter Dude of the Day (Jenny, is this a new theme to your blog?): Hee-hee-hee! That's a good one. :)

As for Kimber An...I'm adding my hugs and sympathy to everyone else's. What a terrible thing to have happen. Good that you have the love and support of your family around you.

kiwi said...

Hate to say it, Jenny, but this kind of thing is part of the business. My agent gets it all the time--and just smiles and moves on.

I do feel for you though, you don't deserve this kind of nonsense.

Kimber an, deepest sympathies.

Jenny Rappaport said...

Oh I know it's part of the business, kiwi, and I've gotten worse before. I'm just trying to educate people about what they shouldn't be doing, in my own little way. =)

Kim said...

Kimber An - cyber hugs coming your way!

It just goes to show that there are things in life worse than a rejection!

Happy Halloween!

resurrectedwarrior said...

Okay. I'm confused. Is the letter itself rude or the fact that the dude sent the old rejection letter?

Jenny Rappaport said...

resurrectedwarrior, it's the fact that the guy sent back the original rejection letter.

McKoala said...

The letter itself is pretty rude too. Hope he lets go of his anger one day before it eats him all up.

Kimber an, I'm sorry to hear your news, from experience I know how devastating a miscarriage is. All the best and furry hugs.

Kimber An said...

Thanks, mckoala, and everybody else for their sympathy again. Funny thing is, I still haven't told my own mother. To her, an unborn baby is just a blob of tissue. So, I know I won't get any comfort from her. And that is certainly something I canNOT deal with right now. Thankfully, my husband's there to run interference. He's my hero.

tsktsk said...

I'm sure this guy is riding high after the confidence boost, but I wonder what his new agent would think if they realized what kind of headcase they'd taken on...

Not to mention, three publishers ain't nothin'. But all the best to the git. ;-)

Ryan Field said...

Jenny, I truly hope you take this all lightly, and find an outlet where you can release it. A blog like this is cathartic for that type of letter.

SJB said...

One word on the writer's behaviour; unprofessional.

To the lady who had the miscarriage. Please don't look on it as a rejection. You did nothing wrong, it happens. I know from experience, you tend to go over and over things in your mind until you are sick and dizzy. Hold onto the love that made the child, it will see you through.

M. Takhallus. said...

I'm going to disagree here.

It's a hard thing, writing a book on spec. There are people writing when it seems the whole world wants them to fail. (No, I'm not being autobiographical -- bunch of books, bunch of money, very lucky.) The publishers and agents have all the power. They seem to hold in their hands everything that tired, scared, hopeful writer wants.

So this guy took personally the fact that something he sweated blood over for six months or six years got shot down with a form letter. Yeah, he should have been cool about it, and of course it's okay for the agent to use a form letter, but the author is entitled to feel hurt and disappointed.

So let's start with the fact that the author wasn't crazy to feel hurt. And then let's show some compassion for the poor s.o.b. And let's remember he spent a lot longer writing his book than the agent had to spend either rejecting his submission or recoiling from his pissy follow-up.

JimFreedan said...

I'm the lead designer of a MMORPG. Every time the development team has a meeting I am literally fighting to protect the synergy of the design so that the game is enjoyable for players rather than a complete mess because people began spontanously adding anything they thought sounds cool. I sometimes don't win all my battles despite having put months of work into balancing a feature. -That- kind of rejection is depressing, especially since I need to re-design several areas of the game to resolve problems the rejected item was designed to prevent. This is by no means an easy task. It is exceptionally time-consuming....and very boring.

So having my book query rejected...that does indeed suck but it isn't as bad. At least you can resubmit in a few months and try again. Or just try someone else.

I dunno, I would think that a soon-to-be published author has more important things to do than directly gloat to all the agents who rejected them. It's kind of a waste of money too.

Jodi Meadows said...

M. Takhallus, I don't think the idea of the post was that this guy shouldn't feel bad about being rejected. As someone who has been rejected (*rolls over and dies*) I know it hurts every time.

The point was, it's unprofessional to reply so rudely to a rejection. It doesn't matter if it's a query level reject, or a full manuscript reject. The fact is, he was rude and unprofessional, and he's burnt bridges now. Agents talk, and this business is a small one.

And yeah, I'm sure it didn't take long for Jenny to decide no, the query (query, not even full! if it was a full, it might have been different) wasn't for her. And it didn't take long to open the rude reply and throw it away. But! It's Jenny's time. If everyone sent a letter like that, she's opening a rude letter for every query she gets. That takes time away from other queries she's trying to reply to, partials and fulls, and more importantly, her clients. Every letter that isn't about her clients, or about someone trying politely to convince her to be their Fancy Agent forever is a waste of her time.

So yeah, the guy is entitled to feel hurt about getting a rejection. But sheesh, if this is how he reacts to a form rejection on something as small as a query, he's got a lot of pain ahead of him when the rejection from editors start coming in.

Anonymous said...

Well that's a really very nice rejection letter, Jenny. I think some authors get very frustrated with other agents who are extremely impolite to authors. Like the ones who don't answer for 17 months. And then there are the ones who require your work to be precise and clean but will answer you with a form query letter that was copied 297,000 times at an acute angle to the verticaland barely legible. And then there are the ones who don't answer at all and steal the stamps from all those SASEs they get. You know the ones. And then there are the ones who are haughty and want to argue with you about the content of your book, even though they haven't read anything but the query letter. And then there are the ones who have been the victims of some terrible crime and chide you for having any crime described in your novel. Except for those several hundred literary agents, you're all just great.

Anonymous said...

M. Takhallus, I disagree.
So, the guy was hurt. So are thousands of other aspiring writers.
How many send nasty sneering letters to agents that rejected their work?
Not that many...
Also, I could maybe excuse a lash-out nasty reflex action, lots of people have moments when emotion overwhelms thought in the heat of the moment. A day after the rejection a bitter email/letter may be excused.
But this was a considered act of nastiness, self-congratulating narcissistic vitriol. It was not sadness or even anger. It was smugness. It was someone finding validation of the "I'll show YOU..." mentality. It had no possible purpose except to hurt.
Most people get naturally more forgiving, mellow, even generous on victory (consumed or impending). The people who long for the victory day in order to settle scores for past slights (real or imagined) are not representative of the human race. At least not my human race.
You know, writers use character traits like this to create villains (or rather antagonists I should say to be up to date). And in stories characters get what they deserve. In life however, villains (uuuh, I mean strong minded over-achiever ethically disadvantaged victims of society) seem to prosper.
Maybe that's why we read stories...

Almost Writer.

Miz Treeze said...

Anonymous, Almost Writer.
You HIT the nail on the head with what exactly about that mail was bad.
Er, um, I agree.