Monday, April 12, 2010

Anyone Out There?

This week's quote that has caught my eye:
A man will turn over half a library to make one book. ~Samuel Johnson
Yes, yes, Mr. Johnson, we know. Good readers make good writers. We get it. You are preaching the the choir, sir. So with that in mind, and with summer right around the bend (bringing with it hours and hours of sitting outside in the backyard with the sprinklers running for my two-year-old to bounce around in), I need some reading suggestions. Fun, exhilarating, exciting reads. So, hit me with your best shot readers- anyone read anything good lately???

Monday, April 5, 2010

Anatomy of a Rejection Letter

I’ve been talking to a few fledgling writers recently and found that many of them are either very close to, or completely finished with manuscripts. Most of them also are so nervous about querying literary agents because of the impending rejection that they are doing nothing with their work. So, I thought it would be interesting for you (and cathartic for me) to look at an actual rejection and maybe poke a little fun at it. So, here is a real honest-to-goodness rejection email I have received. Anything in parentheses is my own sarcastic commentary.

Dear (insert brilliant undiscovered, undervalued author’s name here- which is mine in this instance),

Thank you for your recent email and your interest in (name of undeserving agency here). We are always eager to hear from writers who are serious about the business of writing. (And since this is a rejection, we obviously do not feel you are serious about the business of writing). Unfortunately I do not feel that I'm the right representative for your work. (And there it is. You know, you could have saved me some time agent and just sent me this last line in the email. Done and done. But no, let’s let the knife linger a little.)

I have to be very selective of what I choose to represent and all of my decisions are based on a frank assessment of the current needs of the literary markets. The fact that this work doesn't fit my narrow criteria for representation does not mean it couldn't find a home elsewhere. (Ah, the old, “it’s not you, it’s me” line. Love it. This reads like a break-up, doesn’t it?) I urge you to submit your work to other agencies that may be more suited to this type of material. (There are plenty of other fish in the sea, just please stop fishing at my agency).

Well, there it is. The worst thing that can happen when you are querying agents. In all actuality, it’s not that bad. It’s just what you decide to do after you get a few of these in your inbox that will separate you from the thousands of other authors out there with unpublished work. Ugh, thousands...heaven help us all...