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Life is too short not to laugh, and luckily for us we’re able to find something to laugh about almost daily. Here are a few to share with you . . .

After 6 years at BookEnds, Kim still forgets where she works. In an auto-reply on queries (that went out to about 100+ people before it was caught) she stated, “Thanks so much for contacting Berkley with your query . . .” Keep in mind I was the one who caught it when I got the auto-reply. Laughed so hard I cried.

“Contemporary non-fiction novel”—nothing is right about this phrase.

In reply to a recent rejection I was told that “mere words can’t do justice to the story.” Seems to me that if words can’t do it justice it might not be right for a book.

Like many agents I have a fairly standard rejection reply to queries. That being said, if I do see that there’s something the author can improve on I will attempt to alter my wording to let her know. In a recent rejection I suggested the author’s query was not as strong as it could be and that she might consider looking at a few places (I suggested which ones) to learn how to write a stronger query. I was told, “That’s one of the most creatively worthless query replies I’ve seen.” So much for giving actual advice.

Queries have been pouring in at a rate of 50+ a day, and since Kim isn’t accepting any at this time I have no doubt that some people are submitting to me instead (even if it’s something Kim represents, but I don’t). Recently I got a query that was submitted to me only, “since Kim isn’t accepting queries at this time.” Really not the way to warm my little agent heart.


Category: Blog


  1. Ouch, who would be stupid enough to write that? 'Since I can't get the agent I want I'll settle for you.' Wow.

    And you totally made my day with the 'mere words…' thing. Again, wow. Your book IS words. Lol.

  2. LOL! Great stories!

    The last one made me wonder, if someone queried you because "Kim wasn't taking queries" and the story was fabulous, would you mind that you might not have been the first choice?

  3. 'I was told, “That's one of the most creatively worthless query replies I've seen.” So much for giving actual advice.'

    Great. That query-writer just made it even more unlikely that the rest of us more grateful and professional authors will receive any agently advice.

    Next time, sit on your hands for fifteen minutes and then go for a walk with a large bar of dark chocolate before you even think about replying to an agent. And then don't reply at all, no matter how much you think it's true and that you have the right.

  4. Kim forgets where she works ?

    Everytime I answer the phone where I work I have to THINK about how I am going to greet the caller because I've been known to thank them for calling my former employer, our competitor. (I've been gone from the other job for five years.)

    Hey…want to laugh ?

    I wondered why the new wireless mouse was not working on my computer this morning, it really ticked me off…I was using the TV remote instead.

    Here's another funny !
    I actually think I might get an agent someday.

    Oh wait…
    this is supposed to be funny.

    Ring ring…my remote is calling.

  5. I love that you can laugh at life. Someone called me to complain about an article in the newspaper the other day. It was in reference to a short item on a relative celebrating her 100 birthday. I listened to his complaint (and it was valid) but he went on and on and ripped me a good one. (We inadvertently printed the article before the surprise party for her.) I thought, Man, life is too short. My dad died when he was 58. My mom at 61. And your relative has lived to be 100. How awesome. And you've just wasted 30 minutes of your life and mine on complaining about something that, in the end, really isn't that big of a deal. She probably didn't even see the item. But my point is that sometimes people just need to chill and really think about how big a deal something is. So we screwed up. Ouch. I hate screwing up. But we learn from our mistakes and move on. And if we can laugh at ourselves, how awesome. People can be so unforgiving. Anyway… sorry for the rant.

  6. Hope that won't deter you from your kindly explanations of rejection and suggestions for improvement. My understanding is not many of your professional colleagues will do that. Please don't be deterred by the one ill natured response (who probably has since regretted the flash of anger).

  7. I once spent over twenty minutes on the phone with my company's helpdesk, because we couldn't figure out why my name was not pulling up in the employee directory. Only much later did I realize I'd given them my maiden name. I'd been married a good six years at that point.

  8. It's a cliche, but in my life I've found it to be oh so true: 'No good deed goes unpunished.' You try to be helpful and you get grief for it.

  9. Creatively worthless…geesh! That kinda' falls under Speech #2 – No good deed goes unpunished.

    Love the 'mere words' deal. Oh and there are days I try to forget where I work (most are okay though). 😉

    Thanks for the giggles.

  10. Dear Author:

    Since Kim isn't accepting queries, I'm rejecting you on her behalf.

    I know she'd pass on this project because, while it might be perfect for her (who knows, she's not accepting queries and therefore can't judge), she's not accepting queries.

    I'm sure Kim appreciates that you thought of her first, but as she's not accepting queries, that point's a bit moot.

    I won't be passing this query along, as Kim isn't accepting queries, but since you obviously thought it was suited to her list I find myself with a moral dilemma.

    She's not accepting queries, and I am, so I could read it. But, you personalized it to her (who isn't taking queries) in a query sent to me (who is). Maybe this means I'm your 2nd choice (which I wouldn't have known if you hadn't pointed it out by mentioning the agent who isn't accepting queries) in which case, I'm probably not suited for you. Maybe you hoped I'd sneak it onto Kim's desk – which is impossible since she's not taking queries. In that case, you should know that I don't handle other people's mail. That would be rude.

    So my final answer is:

    Thank you for the opportunity to read your proposal, but Kim is not taking queries.

    And yes, this is a form letter.


  11. It's great that you don't let the negative or rude ones sour your attitude. Many of us appreciate the feedback/suggestions offered – even in a "no response" to a submission.

    Last year I sent out a partial to an agent. She was kind enough to respond with specific suggestions – what worked for her, what didn't. She offered to re-read my work if I revised it. I did, and she now has the revised partial.

    Even if she passes again, I greatly appreciate her efforts to reach out and give me advice on how to improve my story and writing.

    So…please keep that LOL attitude!


  12. That is hilarious that people actually do that! Thanks for the laughs!

    Speaking of aswering phones and remembering where you work — I worked at a rinky dink restaurant called "The Huddle House" a few years back. I worked a lot of double shifts to make some extra money. Well one night, I was at home taking a nap and my cell rang. I picked it up and said "Thank you for calling the Huddle House, Home of the Huddle Burger. How can I help you today?"


    My sister still doesn't let me forget that.

  13. I'm pretty sure Kim's "Berkley" mistake isn't as funny to the writers who are confused as to receiving a rejection from an agency they didn't even submit to!

  14. [M]ere words can’t do justice to the story.

    I suck at writing query letters, and my ego wants an excuse to dismiss their importance.

    All the same, words can't describe…a bunch of words?

  15. Hmmmm… Jessica decides to post about my faux pas the same day she knows I'll be busy at BEA. Coincidence? I think not.

    Sneaky…very sneaky.

    PS – Luckily I'm wearing a badge with my name and place of employment. Even I can't screw this up.

  16. I was rejected by Jessica, but I of course did not send her some rude, snarky little comment. Sure, I wasn't exactly frolicking through meadows, but what authors need to realize is that agents do talk to one another. The literary agency circuit is an absolute web. Agents change agencies, agents chat at writing seminars, agents are friends. Being a sassy little pain in the rear is not only rude, but detrimental to your reputation in a field that will likely determine if your future is at Harper Collins or Publish America.

  17. Josin! Hilarious!

    These people have GOT to be newbies. Seasoned writers who know how this 'thing' works wouldn't respond with with something like that would they? Ohymysweetgoodness, they would…

  18. @ Kim

    It's probably a copycat crime a la Suzie Townsend, in which case Jessica should maybe remember what happened to Suzie. Not pretty, I'm told, and last I heard, the FBI was looking to bring Janet Reid in for questioning. 😀

    Also, drive-through intercoms are just as dangerous as autoresponders and telephones. I once told a customer, "Welcome to McDonalds, may I help you?" Problem was, I wasn't working at McDonalds. And my boss was standing there. Oopsie.

    Thanks for the laugh–even you didn't intend to share it with us. 🙂

  19. Oh man, I'd give up something great, like chocolate, if an agent would give me suggestions/advice.
    On the funny side; I had one of those days today.
    So I come home this evening and my husband tells me he put our 22month old daughter down for a nap. He says, “Oh, before I got her in her room, she picked up the milk cup you gave her this morning and started guzzling it. She got a few swigs in before I snatched it from her.”
    Gross, right? Hmmm, maybe not so much, worse things have happened; right? Before you answer that, let’s see what my response was.
    I say, “I didn’t give her milk this morning!”
    Yup! Gotta Love it! Yum Yum. If they would just make those dang sippy cups square, I wouldn’t have to worry about them rolling under things and out of sight. Somehow though, she never forgets where she’s left a cup or a piece of food. But you ask her where mommy’s keys are, and she suddenly gets forgetful

  20. I once asked a customer if they'd like the item they bought "for here or to go". This was a year or so after i'd worked at a fast food restaurant. My coworkers were clearly amused.

    I understand snarky replies are rude and annoying. Is it wrong of me to feel relieved that there is less actual competition. Anyone who even attempted any research would know not to reply.
    they send you a form rejection and won't even recognize the project you're replying about.
    If they sent you anything even REMOTELY personalized than be grateful. You held their attention long enough to come up with suggestions on improving it.

  21. J, don't let one bad apple spoil the whole bunch! After you requested my partial, you just wrote a standard rejection letter–but how I would've appreciated a few words of feedback.

  22. Jessica,

    I received one of your 'helpful' rejections in the past and please, for the sake of the few authors like me who really benefitted from your kind advice, don't stop!
    I'm now agented and on the road to publication, and your advice on how to better my query, I'd like to think played a part.

    Grateful author

  23. In the author's defense about the catty response, receiving a couple dozen auto-replies desensitizes them to the possibility that one agent might actually take the time to respond personally.

    If that was the case. Maybe it wasn't. Either way, there's really no justification for getting nasty any way.

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