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LOL

I call this recurring post LOL because they are things that usually make us LOL or respond “LOL” when we share the details via email or IM. The truth, though, is that I should call it “sigh with exasperation” at times. Because while it will make us laugh, it sometimes also makes us sigh or even feel a little sad. Anyway, I do like to share these tidbits with you because I do think that they can sometimes make us chuckle.

In a recent rejection email I suggested the author might want to work on a stronger query, that had it been a little stronger I might have requested the material rather than rejected. The author emailed back to say that unless I have specific advice I should stick to a form reject.

An oldie but goodie: Back in the day when we used to accept unsolicited proposals via snail mail (before email submissions), an author sent us an unsolicited full manuscript with no SASE. Our policy was to record all submissions, but if there was no SASE we didn’t reply. The SASE was listed in our guidelines as a requirement. Some time later I received an email from the author asking for feedback on her submission. When I replied that I didn’t have enough of a memory to give an opinion, but I did know we passed, her response was, “Well, thanks for absolutely NOTHING then! You didn’t even show me the courtesy of an email or phone call. It may make no difference to you, but I will not be recommending you to anyone in the future.” A phone call? Really?

In response to a rejection letter I sent: Jessica: You remain rejected. Bad business lady.

Another response to a rejection letter: When people you know die do you send form letters to their funeral?

Jessica

Category: Blog

40 comments

  1. Queries are harder than writing the story.

    A few years ago, I lamented about how many agents are responding with 'no response is a no'. My arguement was how do you even know they rec'd the query if they didn't have an auto-response letter?

    Hubby pointed out that a query letter is like sending a job resume. Many applicants won't receive a response–even after an interview.

    This comment was a HUGE reality check for me.

  2. For that last one: what does the person think greeting cards are? They're prettied-up form letters for specific occasions.

    Maybe that person writes a hand-written condolence letter whenever a loved one dies?

  3. Queries are difficult to write, but I do believe they're like a job interview. I don't understand how authors can respond to rejection in such a way. Very unprofessional.

    Love the last one!

  4. A form rejection is just information. We can be sad, frustrated, scared but moved through that quickly, put a check by the agent's name and move on. Any sort of argumentative response a rejected author zings back at the agent is just poor business. You can bet that door is closed and locked.

    If an agent is generous to supply any sort of nugget of information in the rejection, I would say that is one lucky rejectee. Take that tip, stash it under your pillow for safe keeping and consider it. A tip embedded in a rejection letter could be just the think to make an ok ms into a great one.

  5. These have all been email comments, I take it?

    For me, that's probably the worst thing to come out of the Internet age. Things that people probably wouldn't write in a letter and would never even dream of saying to someone's face – well, all this and more is somehow ok to scores of people who send emails and comment on blogs.

    I just hope these people don't change how you do things, Jessica. For every one of these, you probably have a few dozen people who have been helped by your suggestion to go back and revisit the query. Only they don't let you know so as not to clog up your inbox!

  6. That last one made me laugh.

    I agree both that queries are like a resume and that responding rudely to rejection is bad business. But I think having a query rejected is harder than not getting a job you interview for, because let's face the work is already done.

  7. That's awful! Some people can just be so rude. At least you know you made the right call in rejecting them because who would want to work with someone like that anyway 🙂

  8. I worry for humanity sometimes with responses like this. I work in customer service and I get responses like this all the time. I applaud you for caring enough to respond at all. Some agents wouldn't even do anything past the form letter. If that.

    Granted, the responses make for funny blog posts.

  9. When Bookends rejected my query, I did what I thought all sane submitters would do: say "well, crap!" under my breath, and move on to the next agent/agency.

    Apparently, there are some real crazies out there. That might be an interesting book to write!

  10. Wow! Unbelievable. How unprofessional of an author. Doesn't that person understand agents and publishers talk to each other?

    I do admit writing a query is harder than the novel. I struggled with mine for several months before I got it to a point I was comfortable with it. It is still to be seen whether it passes the test with agents and/or publishers. And while we would all like to have specialized feedback to say what was strong or lacking in our queries, this is not the job of the agent or publisher. Can you imagine their day if they were required to make phone calls or send personal messages to everyone submitting?

    This is no different than applying for a job. How many companies inform all of their rejected applicants that they didn't get the job?

    I feel sad for people like this. The way we respond to rejection speaks louder than how we respond to praise. Humility goes a long way.

  11. I received this exact response from BookEnds "you might want to work on a stronger query, that had it been a little stronger I might have requested the material rather than rejected."

    I thought… you know what? I should work on a stronger Query.

    Who are these people who go nuts and reply to agents/editors with crazy comments?

  12. The best/worst part about the funeral analogy is that the manuscript is equated to a human life… it's not even close to the same thing. I know people refer to projects as their "baby" but I hope to .god they know there is a difference!

  13. Hmm. Maybe I'm naive but I don't quite understand the "stronger query" response.

    Let's stick with the resume analogy. A hiring director tells a candidate, "I would have called you in for an interview if you had had a stronger resume." My first response is to think, "Well, duh. The whole purpose of sending resumes is to filter the strong candidates from the weak based on the info provided in a resume. If I'm rejected, of course my resume wasn't as strong as those of others. Why is the hiring director telling me this? And where was I lacking? Not enough work experience? Not the right kind of work experience? Did my job goals not match those of the hiring company? Was I not clear enough? Would you have called me for an interview if I had had a professional resume writer write my resume using the same info I provided you?"

    I ask (or pay) someone good at writing queries to write mine and you request. I struggle trying to write my own and you don't request. Same manuscript. Same story. Where's a frustrated writer going to turn?

  14. I've dealt with ALL my rejections by pressing the delete key and posting the date in that little leather notebook. But I couldn't resist blogging about the one full of errors. (Not yours.) I've also learned that it is possible to accent totally different aspects of your story in a query.

  15. Wish I could laugh. But the despair behind all of those responses, especially the last one, is too palpable.

  16. I consider myself a professional rejecter. I have, unfortunately, had to reject many men (easily several hundreds) in my life.

    And it never gets easier! But it's exactly the same as in your practice – when I give a few tips about looks and presentability, they are offended.

    I do think men should get more professional about matters of love, too.

  17. I can't imagine being that unprofessional. I have been in management most of my career so I have had some ridiculous responses to my rejections to employees. So I have my own list of LOL's Take a big "sigh" and enjoy the sharing of these to others who empathize.

  18. I agreed with the guy that started this off… You might have been interested – but there's no way of knowing what you were looking for in strength.

    To me, Queries are a lot like essay questions on a test. The answers are subjective and the teachers are grading all things on a curve. What's worse? All the study guides are different – or have different ideas on how things are done. Then even after reading ALL that —

    It's still graded on a curve and only the agents have the answer key.

  19. People don't realize what a blessing a rejection can be. I sent out a number of queries before i found my awesomely fabulous dream agent and i shudder to think what if one of those other agents had taken me on? Those rejections were dodged bullets. An agent who rejects your work is obviously not the right agent for you. A writer needs an agent who gets his or her work and is supportive and can get a good book deal. It took a few tries, but i found the right one for me, or i should say we found each other.

  20. During my first go around at querying (2006/07), I used to go nuclear whenever I'd gotten a form letter (all but one was a private vent).

    However, during my current querying phase, I'm much more understanding about the form letter rejection simply because I use form letters at work. The only comments I make about form letter rejections is about the form letter itself.

    Because I understand the need for form letter, it would make a better lasting impression if the form letter didn't look like it was hastily copied on copier before being stuffed in an envelope.

    A poor quality form letter says just as much about an agency as a good quality form letter.

  21. I don't understand these types of people. To me, the whole process is so fun and exciting. I have almost as much fun getting a rejection as I do a request, because it means me and my MS are OUT THERE! And the rejections make the good times feel that much better. 🙂

  22. If I see an agency site with the "if you don't hear back from us it's a no" statement that's all I need to know about that agent's attitude to new writers.

    Fortunately in the new world writers can go direct to readers via e-pub.

    If agents expect to stay in business they have to offer a personal service, because we writers don't need the Big Six anymore.

    At last there is an alternative.

  23. When I worked as a bartender the owners put a big sign up that said, "What don't you understand about NO?"

    When I have my first manuscript tweaked and start to send out queries, I know what to expect after years of rejections from galleries that don't think my work is made for their gallery. I have learnt that it is business not a reflection on my emotions and my paintings are stronger.

    I'd love to query BookEnds and hope that you may like it but realize that my manuscript is proving to be different from what you represent.

    I love reading your blog and all the information that you choose to offer. I've gained so much from it and from all the people that comment here. Thanks for offering such a wonderful blog.

  24. I'd love to come up with something clever as so many others have; but my eyes are still bugging out of my head at those reactions.

    At least I won't have a bad hair day…

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