Tuesday, August 30, 2005

All the Crazies

Yes, that's me, laughing it up. Why? Here's what was seen and heard in the query inbox just today: “At last! The Great American novel.” Really? Not before now?

And my personal favorite is this fellow, who wrote:

I think where the problem is in getting published is like anything in this world.Its not what ones written its who one knows.All these desperate wannabe writers will give their eye teeth to please a literary agent ( this is inspiring me to become a LA) even though If there were no writers all of you would be out of business.Congratulations.I think I'll become a Literary Agent and charge a reading fee.I'm sure I will be inundated with submissions from suckers who will hear from me in 2009 ( offcourse with a negative response).It is a great business to be in.No outlay( except a web page) and all gain.
Let me know your thoughts

I’m still thinking about the right response on that one. As I’ve often pointed out on this blog, agents aren’t super human. We have to develop thick skins, but we’re still people. Firing off an angry, mean-spirited reply to a rejection is simply uncool. But, when someone isn’t capable of wielding proper grammar, why should this sort of reply above surprise me?

Back into the trenches, waving sword and dagger yet again, I am…



Blogger Deidre Knight said...

Can I just add here... LA. No longer a city--a profession!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 10:12:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Kelly Maher said...

I look at that and think: dumb&*^(. Keep that attitude and you're not going to last long if you get anywhere in the publishing biz in the first place. From "The Godfather" via "You've Got Mail": "It's not personal, it's business." I think that's the quote anyway. I'm still shaking my head and giggling in disbelief.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 10:35:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Shannon McKelden said...

OMG! This is a person who obviously has no writing talent whatsoever. Why else would they shoot themselves in the foot?!

Tuesday, August 30, 2005 at 11:51:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd say just politely reject the first query (if you aren't intrigued by the query anyhow) and ignore the second person. The first query belongs (I would guess) to a typical too-excited newbie. Give him or her time.

I disagree, though, that the second person must not have talent. I would venture to guess instead that this person has some raw storytelling talent and cannot understand why the world is not at his/her door trying to get manuscripts from him/her. This person is new to the business and has heard all his/her life, "You should have that published." Seriously. This is what's happening. The person has been told forever by teachers and friends whenever he/she turns in a story or essay that "you should get that published," and thinks it should be easy, especially if he/she reads Publishers Lunch and some of the promotional material that's out there. ("I wrote my first book one month just to see if I could do it, sent it to an agent, and auctioned it off for a million!") It's very easy to go from there to a bitter, cynical point of view. When I met my husband, his cousin had "written a novel" (it was a mess) and sent it around to garner only rejections; his family promptly adopted the canard, "You can't get published unless you know somebody. It's who you know." And from then on, it was an uphill struggle with them for me, because they thought it was a total and complete waste of time for me to send out work. (My family felt that way for other reasons. *wry grin*) It's very difficult for someone to accept that although your work was the "best" in the school, it doesn't cut the mustard/ketchup out in New York. It's very tough to figure out what is wrong with your own writing. Now, I'm a weirdo and I know it: from birth, I had a fascination with written language and with English in particular, and so I wanted to learn the mechanics of writing. I also am old enough to have had teachers who cared enough to circle my mistakes in red. *grin* This meant that by the time I had stories worth telling to an adult audience of strangers, I didn't have to worry about learning the mechanics. (Up until that point, I wrote beautiful little angsty coming-of-age stuff and vignettes and other juvenilia that couldn't possibly be sold. Then I wrote novels that didn't fit into the marketplace. Only in the last few years have I been able to put it all together.)

Having the Internet available to just about anyone with a modem (there to act as a bully pulpit) has led to an interesting state of affairs. One positive note is that at last, those who needed an audience can build one (even if it's an audience of other weirdos or like-thinkers.) Sometimes this leads to success--look at John Scalzi of "Whatever" and Pamie (who published a novel, _Why Girls are Weird_, based on her online journal.) Other times it helps those who need an outlet and feedback. Yet other times, it's just fun to post here and there, and doesn't mean a thing. *But* having a "level playing field" of accessibility can mean that people grow huge egos without realizing it. Sometimes they'll challenge agents or powerful people just to see if the "different approach" gets them noticed. It does, but only in the movies! They have yet to learn this. I would say that you'd be better off just sending the boilerplate no-thanks response, and add, "Thanks for thinking of us." He will probably lose interest at that point. Maybe he'll go off and learn. You never know.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 12:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger TJ Brown said...

Thank you for not listing me as a crazy. Snort.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 1:20:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Unknown said...

Not to step out of place--thank you for letting me listen in. In this case, I think that I might send him a response that said, "Thank you, I wish you well."
I've found that a thank you response often works well with unreseaonable jerks, who have no ability to listen. :)


Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 1:33:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Trish said...


I'm obviously twisted.

I'd keep the nasty gram, and all those like it--collect them. That way if you ever get the urge to write your own *How To Get an Agent* book you can prominately feature them in a chapter called How Not To Behave.

It would be almost poetic don't you think? That their rudeness could lead to some extra cash for the hardworking agents of TKA?


Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 2:38:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Molly said...

I'd ignore the letter altogether. Or perhaps paste it in the scrapbook of "All-Time Clueless Letters." :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 6:16:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Diana Peterfreund said...

Three words:
"Thanks for sharing."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 6:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Ellen said...

Aaaargghhh. I'm with whoever said the first person was probably just an overenthusiastic newbie, but the second... sheesh. He doesn't have a good grasp of the language, AND he's unmannerly. Not exactly an ideal client, I'd say!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 8:30:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

Wow. That second letter is just dripping with hostility. I'm sure you're not the only agent to get a hate-o-gram like that from this person. Sheesh!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 9:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger wilddunz said...

I'm sorry "offcourse" took me out of the story...

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 9:52:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pollyanna in me would like to think he just sent that off in the haze of disappointment that often accompanies rejections... Hard to imagine someone being that foolish, not to mention bitter.
In my opinion, it's not worth your time to respond (does he seriously expect "your thoughts?") but I'm sure glad you posted it here.
Gave me a laugh.

PS. Great photo!

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 12:15:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I find the first letter rather endearing. Yes, it's obviously a person who doesn't know HOW to capture an agent's attention--but it's also hopeful and energetic, and this person LOVES this book. Even if I refused them, I'd give them a gentle hint about better ways to hook an agent/editor.

As for the second--that's a bitter person in pain, lashing out. I agree with Diana's response, or I'd wish them well in their career as an agent, or simply no response at all.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 12:44:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the photo, Deidre! And actually...LOL on the rejection reply. It takes all kinds, eh? I mean, who among us haven't felt utter hurt over a rejection, but to actually pen such an uniformed response is just...unprofessional. The grammar, let alone the syntax of the message, is atrocious. I agree with others. "Thanks for your time. Here's a cookie." *EG*

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 1:25:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deidre, I'm still speechless over that letter.

And I think your best course of action would be to remain speechless, too. Don't dignify him with a response...it'll be just like feeding cheese puffs to a seagull.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 1:41:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, there's something horrifically captivating about a person who's snide enough to write a letter like that second one. It's like watching a car wreck, all the while thinking, "Why don't they stop? Or at least try to put on the brakes?"

A few years ago, the CEO of the company I worked for received a letter from an irate customer. In it the, ahem, "gentleman" called all the employees "just a bunch of morans." To this day, if someone really irks me, I call him a moran.

That said, don't worry about that person or his over-inflated self-worth. He's nothin' but a big ol' MORAN!


Wednesday, August 31, 2005 at 11:53:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dunno. I wouldn't waste more time or energy on the rejectee. What would be the point? He's probably not going to hear what you have to say, and even if he does, he'll likely not change.

Feeling cynical this morning...

Thursday, September 1, 2005 at 11:26:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this guy is one of the desperate wannabe writers that he mentions in his letter. He sounds bitter enough to have had personal experience with fee-charging "literary agents."

Some people just aren't patient and don't understand that only a lucky few are published with their first manuscript. I wonder what he hoped to accomplish by sending that response. Did he think he'd change your mind with a poorly written letter?

I agree that no response may be the best response. He's looking for a reaction to make himself feel important.


Sunday, September 4, 2005 at 2:35:00 PM EDT  

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