Another Rejection Letter...Another Reason To Laugh!
(And don't miss Return of the Son of Rejection Letter 2!! Linked here and at the bottom of the page.)
I, of course, had a plan. I planned on spending no more than $500 on postage, et al, and on having an agent by the end of the first quarter.
Im glad Im flexible.
Please allow me to also say, at this early point, that no matter what has been and will be said, I expected rejection letters. Lots of them. Rejection was never a problem. The form it took, however, was. But more on this later...
I do a lot of covert printing at work (who doesnt?) and sent out about a dozen query letters on the last day of 2004. The first three rejections arrived on the 5th. I was impressed with their speed, but as I said, I was more than prepared for rejection.
The reason being: I had read the books. I knew it had nothing to do with my writing, per se. I understood they were not rejecting me, (in fact my name rarely got a mention) but the fact was, the little extension of me--namely, my manuscript--wasnt what they wanted. Many agents were 'not sufficiently enthusiastic'; felt it wasnt fair to their existing client lists to take on more work; or the most frequent cant, my work was not right for us. All of these poignant letters, addressed Dear Author and undated, assured me that the right agent was out there, it just wasnt them.
Thats fine. There are plenty of fish in the ocean.
I bought the annual list of agents, found my genre, revised my letter and first three chapters and mailed anew. March 5th saw another fourteen letters winging to their various destinations. Three days later, rejection number one.
These people work fast!
I got serious.
More revisions, more critiques. I no longer recognized my work, but that was fine. I went on the Web, got a list of names, called in sick to work and on March 9th mailed out another 25 letters. It was like a scene from Willy Wonka, in reverse; stuffing envelopes hoping to find a golden ticket.
Im thinking the post office must love it when people try to publish.
I created a database on my laptop to track who I mailed to, when, what their response was, and any pertinent notes. This was in the hopes of not mailing to the same agent more than once and suffering the embarrassment of being rejected by the same person twice. I shouldnt have bothered to worry...which brings me to the subject of this article. (And it only took me 350+ words. Not bad for me!)
This article is meant to be a warning to would be authors.
All of the books advise you to be professional when you send a query. Avoid being familiar, get the name of the person youre mailing to, be respectful, check for typos, dont dissimulate, and avoid gimmicks. Print your letter on good bond paper, and dont forget to include a SASE for their reply.
Because youre so going to want their reply.
Heres what the books dont tell you: As professional as you are, agents will be as cavalier as possible. Not all of them, mind you, but the majority are so inundated (yes, feel free to read in here all the sarcasm youd like) with query letters just like yours that they dont have the time to photo copy their rejection letter squarely on the page. Im serious. I even have a gray one from someone who didnt bother closing the copier in their haste to tell me they werent enthusiastic about my work.
Theyll rubber stamp on your query, "Not for us"; theyll tell you they dont accept a genre you didnt submit; theyll tell you theyre up to their neck in your genre and couldnt look at another one, and theyll tell you they dont do screenplays.
Yes. Screenplays. (Which, of course, flies in the face of the oft heard, "We read and seriously consider every submission...")
They will not give you feedback, no matter what the books say. (This is a scream. One place I mailed to offered to edit my first ten pages for a minimal charge, which I happily paid. Their response to me was in English...I can only assume. And they loved the word snatching.) Others might send you an ad for their book on how to write a query/novel/proposal, since clearly you need the help...
The other thing no one prepares you for is other authors. Do not think you can look to your chosen community for support, no matter what they say. Its a dog eat dog world. You, being fresh faced and eager, do critique after critique; learn what to do, what to avoid, and how to behave. And then, when you need them most...youll discover that they loved your critiques, but are just too busy to reciprocate. Or, even worse, when you want a shoulder to cry on, after your 120th rejection letter, youre told to suck it up, everyone gets rejection letters, why did you think you were special?
So now I ask you, what am I going to do with all this bond paper?
PS: Since posting this I have had a typo in my letter pointed out to me.
(I have parallel word, not world.) Just goes to show that it's true; you can never proof enough. ^__^;;
And the continuing saga...
Aug 24, 2006 I received the following rejection:
I'm sorry not to respond personally.
Thank you for your recent correspondence. I regret to say that your
work doesn't appear to be the kind of material I am currently looking
for at this time. I am looking to take on new clients, but only with
material about which I feel very strongly on a personal level...
This is one of those letters that makes me wanna write back:
I received your form rejection today and must admit, I'm relieved. Your
command of the English language is such that I'm convinced you're not
qualified to represent my work. I'm sure there are many writers that will
be happy to work with you; I'm just not one of them.
Best of luck with your career.
Now...you might be wondering why, Pattie, didn't you copy the letter?
The reason being, this rejection is the 3rd I have received from this agent in the
18 months that I have been looking...and the 3rd agency that this agent has been with!
Something to think about.
Now, go leave me a comment! ^__^ I wanna know that I've made an impression.
SO! <snort> Over the weekend, oh, wait, it's Oct 22, 2007
So, an on-line writer friend (who writes BRILLIANTLY and is also not published) and I got to talking over the weekend and we decided to play with each other's query and send it out, figuring we had nothing to lose. Well, Susan got a response to her/my query already (nothing from mine yet...obviously it's me...) and here's the thing, it was addressed to her, not me! It was a standard, print-this-out-and-mail-to-an-agent letter with all my contact info, just as you'd expect. So, in other words, the agent read as far as Susan's email address and hit reply:
Thanks for sending along the opening pages of Milo Scarlet. Truth be told, though, I'm afraid they didn't draw me in as much as I had hoped. I'm pressed for time these days and, what with my reservations about the project, I suspect I wouldn't be the best fit. Thanks so much for contacting me, though, and for giving me this opportunity. It's much appreciated, and I'm sorry to be passing. I wish you the very best of luck in your search for representation.
Well, I'll be the first to admit I'm a bitch. It runs in the family and distresses my wife. Susan was kind enough to forward me the response...to which I hit forward and sent the following:
Thank you, XXXXX, for taking the time to glance at my submission. I can understand your confusion, as I sent my submission from a friend's computer, but as my name is actually Pattie, I cannot imagine that you read past the email address.
You're right. Not a good fit.
Now, no doubt you're wondering, Pattie! Why would you do that? Burning bridges that this point, yaddi yaddi.
Ya know what? If you (the agent) can't be bothered to look, and then lie about it, in what way are you showing me the same level of professionalism that you require from me? Why should I show respect to a person so clearly unworthy of regard? HELLO? My name is RIGHT THERE! It isn't even like I'm asking you to customize your typical rejection letter and put it in an envelope. I SENT AN EMAIL! Would it kill you to take a handful of seconds to actually address your form rejection? It took me time to find your name, make sure you represent my genre, etc.
We're talkin' six little letters!
Should I be the bigger person? Sure. But ya know what? It's wearing thin.
I didn't start my original letter, Dear XXXXX. No, I addressed it to Mr. XXX. Had the reply been addressed to Susan using her last name, i.e., Dear Ms. White, I might have salvaged a modicum of respect, but no. My extension of respect was met with familiarity, compounded by a blatant lie.
Do I sound bitter? Of course I am. Does anyone care? Nope. ^__^
Every day, more and more writers think they can move from pounding out really good fanfiction to actual novels. They do everything they're supposed to and can't get representation from agents who make demands before they're even out of the box.
I number myself among these overlooked hordes.
There ya go. Proof positive that I am not outstanding in the field. Heck, I'm not even worthy of my own name. lol
Back to work. ^__^
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