Saturday, March 17, 2007

Trolls, trolls!

You have to love your trolls! =)

Kelly Swails, who is one of my blog readers that I've actually gotten the chance to meet in person, showed me the following anonymous comment she had gotten on her blog (regarding the fact that I put up statistics showing how many things I accept or reject.)

I read your post over at Jenny Rappaport's blog. You've fallen into her trap. Can't you see that she relishes rejecting writers? It's a literary agent's power trip. Don't commend her for publishing those statistics. Look at the authors she publishes at Amazon's rankings. How well do they do?

We'll never know how well the one's she's rejected would have done. Literary agents serve their own tastes, not the reading public's. They love the headiness of total control over a writer's destiny. See her for what she is. Her haughtiness in the process of rejection should chill you as it should every writer.

Isn't it priceless? My haughtiness? Do I sit there and cackle as I work my rejection magic with form letters and my trusty envelope-closing glue stick? Obviously, I'm a combination of Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty and the wicked queen from Snow White. I'm honored to be in such good Disney super-villians company. =)

But let's be serious here, and correct a few misconceptions on my dear anonymous troll's part.

  1. Amazon rankings mean bupkus. Nothing. Yes, you can sit there and analyze them and say that they're the end-all-and-be-all of how your book is doing... but in reality, they are just one small measure of a book's sales. And add into that the fact that no one quite knows what algorithm is used to calculate the sales ranking, and you're looking at a specious source of information at best. The only thing that matters in this business are the cold, hard sales figures you get on the royalty statements from the publishers.
  2. I'd like to point out that I have a WIDE variety of authors as clients. Some of them have come from e-publishing, where there is a smaller audience for their books (although it's growing fast, and I encourage it to do so!). Some of them haven't published any books in the last five years or so. Some of them have worked exclusively with small presses, before becoming my client. Some of them haven't had their first book published yet. And others have been published by the bigger publishers, and are starting to do quite decently in their chosen genre. So don't knock what I do as an agent, based on the Amazon rankings of my clients, since as we've established above, they mean crap. And don't knock my clients either. They're all good writers, and I've taken them on because I like them as people, and I think I can sell their books.
  3. I serve my own tastes? Where do you get that misconception from, my dear troll? I serve the tastes of the publishing marketplace, which is a business, let me remind you, and is intimately in touch with what the "reading public" wants. They publish the books that they think will sell to the largest amount of people. I pick the books that I like to read and that I think the editors at the publishing houses will buy for those purposes. Nothing more, nothing less.


Bernita said...

That's an astonishing (and frankly, screwy) claim by anonymous.

Jordan Summers said...

A haughty, power-tripping wench, eh? (I added the 'wench' part myself. Thought it was a nice touch. *ggg*)

I think comments like the above illuminate the fact that so few agents actually post their rejection and acceptance percentages. I think if they did, then anon would realize that this is par for the course in the publishing business.

If I remember correctly, Anna Genoese posted in her blog similar percentages in regards to her slush pile. People were shocked when she said that it had been a year or two since she'd actually purchased a manuscript from the slush pile.

So with that in mind, your percentages are fairly average.

Ben S. D. said...

Just one question for the genius who posted that comment:

If literary agents are out to "serve their own interests," how exactly is it EVER an agent's "interest" to reject everyone? Correct me if I'm wrong, but agents (legitimate ones, anyway), only get paid if the book sells. Therefore, rejecting everyone would mean they never get paid.

...what kind of whacked-out "interest" is that?

Ben S. D. said...

Oh, sorry, serve their own "tastes." Still don't see how that relates to rejecting everyone because they'd enjoy the "power trip" more than actual MONEY from successful book sales.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Your skin is thick enough, Jenny, that this shouldn't be anything more than a good laugh.

I sort of wonder if anonymous has become a PA author yet...

Hang in there. Go buy more of that great jewelry before I do.

katiesandwich said...

WTF? Is this guy serious? I mean, the whole you've-fallen-into-her-trap-she's-out-to-get-you thing is a bit much, don't you think? How can anyone actually believe that you sit in your office plotting the demise of aspiring authors' dreams just for shits and giggles?

This is bizarre. But I guess that makes me one of the morons who's been caught in your web, right?

Joe said...

Weirdness. Whenever I've traded e-mails with Jenny, she's always been honest and helpful. Furthermore, she seems to actually takes the time to READ the work (in fact, I'm currently awaiting word on one of my novels that she's reading) and doesn't summarily dismiss or reject anyone out of hand or for any reason other than she thinks she can't sell the particular manuscript. Not all agents are like that, but she truly seems to be one of the good ones.

Kim said...

I think someone's a bit peeved that they've obviously been rejected - most likely more than once.

I thought the whole reason an agent was in business was to sell manuscripts. Did I miss something? Oh, right... those manuscripts actually have to have some saleability, don't they? You mean to say not all do?

Yup - betcha s/he's on their way to becoming a PA author if s/he's not there yet.

SJB said...

Janny; the simple truth is that you are in business. As a business you go with what you believe can sell, simple as that. Submitting a manuscript query is like any other tender in any other business. You make the short list or you don’t. You succeed or fail.

The problem I believe lies in the fact that today people are falsely led to believe that can’t fail or worse shouldn’t be allowed to fail, they want it so they should have it attitude.
When the real world turns round and bites them, saying sorry you have not what we want, or need, go try else where it makes no difference to them if you are polite about it there are going to take the hump.

Rejections hurt, of course they do. I have a file full of them and will most likely collect another file full over the next year. That is life. The trick is to realise that the rejections are not personal, they are business. You file the rejection and move on. Sometimes you get an acceptance, then you shout from the hill tops. Even then someone tries to shoot you down, because you have succeeded and they haven’t. To be honest I wonder if some folks have ever been allowed out in the real world before, they seem to so cushioned against disappointments by a society that seems to advocate that everyone should have exactly what they want when they want it without working for it, and in some cases deserving it.

December Quinn said...

Yep, sounds like snother no-agent-took-my-book-which-is-the-greatest-tome-ever-written-so-screw-them-all nutter to me. Yawn.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

WOW! What a freaky comment. After laughing my a$$ off, I started thinking about what kind of bitter mind would actually think that about ANY agent, much less you. Yikes. I really hope that person gets a clue, soon.

kiwi said...

I agree with december quinn and others here. Another rejected writer.

Well, christ, man, rejection is part of the game whether you're an unpublishied first-timer or an established author. Stop playing the victim and use it to your advantage. Or, quite frankly, find another job, because you won't make it in this industry unless you learn this lesson, and learn fast.

The choice is yours.

Demon Hunter said...

OMG, Jenny. I had the same kind of anonymous comment on my blog today, but I deleted it because I was not going to even bother you with it. I didn't even respond to it. Why did he/she leave a comment on my blog as well? They told me that I should not have thanked you for posting the statistics. LOL. Um, sounds like someone who was rejected to me...

Jenny Rappaport said...

I don't mind the fact that this troll has been going around posting anonymous comments like this.... I just mind the fact that they are so wildly inaccurate!

I don't think everyone is out to love me in this business; that's such an unrealistic way of looking at things. But I do expect you to have an actual valid argument, before you go around spamming everyone else.

Grow up, troll. Do it fast. Or just face the fact that you're not going to get published anytime soon with that attitude.

Ryan Field said...

You will build in invisible layer of steel for this type of thing as the years go by. Don't even bother to read them; they mean nothing.

Betsy Dornbusch said...

Interesting. I just got a similar response to one of my comments on another blog--that this is all vanity, not a business.

I guess they didn't hear about the bazillion print run for Harry Potter 7.

Julie Wright said...

Haughty agent? Sounds like someone has been hitting the sour grapes a little hard lately. Though it is seriously disconcerting that anyone would hop around other's blogs to try to sew anxiety in other authors. Someone needs to check their prozac levels.

Heather Janes said...

Obviously, someone needs to spend a little more time trying to understand how the publishing industry actually works. Lit agents have no choice but to shrug off the rejections they send out. If they struggled with each one they'd never get any work done. Rejection goes with the territory; if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

(I know, I know. Cliche!)