Author Beware: Nothing But Cheap Editorialism

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 24 2007

As many of you know I have a thick stack of “author beware letters.” These are letters and emails I’ve received over the years from authors clearly unhappy with comments they’ve received from me or work I’ve done for them. This one might be one of my all-time favorites and is in response to our quarterly newsletter.

Dear BookEnds:

After receiving a letter from Jessica Faust I would like to be taken of your newsletter list. I was completely appalled and dismayed. Instead of using my SASE she simply used the same envelope I had sent my letter in, the one with a cancelled stamp. This was unprofessional, cheap and illegal–she was cheating the Post Office. Could it be possible that your company is steaming the stamps off of envelopes for your own use? Horrifying!

I am thrilled that you did not accept my work. I would not want to be associated with such a company and thought Ms. Faust’s comments were nothing but cheap editorialism, despite the fact that what she said did have some merit.

Can you imagine!?


38 responses to “Author Beware: Nothing But Cheap Editorialism”

  1. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Is it even possible to steam off pre-sticky stamps and reuse them?

  2. I picture Jessica standing over the tea kettle with each book proposal steaming off our little stamps! hhahahaha! Thats hysterical! lol.
    As for getting comments from an agent…PLEASE! send me your comments! Maybe I’ll figure out how to make my book better.
    I’ve submitted a couple of proposals to Bookends and gotten rejections…but I never checked the stamps!
    sorry….laughing to hard to type right now….

  3. Hmm….

    LOL. So BookEnds is just a scam. They are in the business of stealing stamps not selling books. 🙂

    Oh, Jessica, I’m sorry I’m laughing, but you know sometimes you just have to laugh.

    Thanks for the chuckle.


  4. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This is a very tedious way to earn a living….collecting cans and bottles might be easier!

  5. Steam off stamps? Don’t be silly. Everyone knows you freeze them off.

  6. Why was she sending two or three SASEs?

    It’s all crazy. But that sticks out as Special Crazy to me.

  7. Wow. All I can say to that is….wow.
    You must have struck a nerve with your comments.
    Gives new meaning to the words “Going Postal” doesn’t it?

  8. I’m so tired I had to read that three times before it made any sense whatsoever. Wait…it still doesn’t make sense! Maybe I need to take this piece of mail and stand over my teakettle trying to steam the stamp off and it will make more sense…

  9. Avatar Kim says:

    Hmmm… 2 or 3 SASEs? Ah well, it makes about as much sense as any other portion of the writer’s rant.

    Who knew agents spent so much time steaming off stamps? What a whack job (the writer).

  10. I knew you guys were too good to be true. Here I always felt I was with a topnotch, dedicated agent who had my best interests at heart (and whose comments on my work are always insightful), and it turns out I’m being represented by a stamp scammer. Oh, the shame!

    Luckily, I’m laughing too hard to worry about anyone’s reputation.

  11. Gobsmacked.
    That’s what I feel.
    And you must have felt.

    I am always amazed by people who truly live in their own world. Is it lonely there?

  12. Cuckoo for frickin’ Cocoa Puffs.

    Good Lord and little fishes.

  13. Avatar Faye Hughes says:

    Okay, look for the bill for my new keyboard in the mail, Jessica. This one made me spill my coffee all over my old one. LOL.


  14. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I just want to point out that the post office does offer first class stamps that are still valid even after postal rate changes. Just stick those on your SASEs and all is good.

    I’m choosing not to comment on the person who wrote this letter.

    I will say, I have always expected an agent to operate in a manner that creates less work for herself. That means she will grab the envelope attached to the entry, send a rejection, and not think about it again. And if random new envelopes show up, she’ll just toss them without thinking about it.

    So don’t get your knickers in a twist about stamps.


  15. Avatar Dave F. says:

    So strange, so strange.

    For a few months, I worked at an office that compiled mailing lists. We routinely cut return addresses off of envelopes and scotch taped them to new envelopes. They also had a method to slit the side of the envelope and reuse it for return mail. It was disgusting, and cheap, but effective.

  16. Avatar Siren Cristy says:

    “It is my good fortunate…”

    Um, did she read her email before she sent it? Because if that’s any indication of her manuscript…

  17. Avatar beverley says:

    This is too funny!!! Well I guess you won’t be representing this writer.

  18. “It is my good fortunate to have not enjoyed the acceptance of my manuscript by your firm.”

    I think you are the one who’s fortunate, Jessica. Having a client like this could have created an endless round of gin drinking and hair fires.

  19. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Writers must be masochists at heart bec ause we send our most prized works that we have been slaving over for weeks, months, years, and then we send it out to the world for complete strangers to tear it to sheds. It’s called criticism. Nobody likes to hear that their work is flawed.
    I feel empathy for that blogger that they should feel so hurt and outraged that they should make a complete fool of themself in this manner.
    I am not a left-wingnut, bleeding heart….I am just a person with a heart. Unfortunately there are few literary agencies out there that are as open with their comments and allow us (the writer) a forum to express our ideas, questions, disapointments. Thank you Jessica for giving us, (the unpublished) a place to vent.

  20. Stamp thieves! *shakes fist*

    New York is full of ’em. I just use Superglue.

  21. Lingering in my mind is this image of Jessica sitting in her office. All around her–on the walls, file cabinets, desk, phone, lamps–are teensy bits of paper. A closer look reveals the bright squares with the ragged edges are stamps. Jessica sits surrounded by thousands of steamed-off stamps, laughing with maniacal glee.


    Little does the world know, this is the wiley agent’s true secret of success…

    –Chiron O’Keefe

  22. Avatar Erik says:

    Wow, a literary agency scamming the US Post Office like that! How unprofessional! How dastardly! How …

    … what’s the word I’m looking for …

    Oh yes, how utterly impossible!

    Maybe I’m just a Miami kid, but somehow anything under about a dollar doesn’t quite count as a “scam”. Perhaps a “scamette”?

  23. Avatar Ryan Field says:

    “although not without merit, not extremely important to me.”

    I don’t understand this thought process. If the comments had merit wouldn’t you think they’d be important?

    I guess this reaction is why “not right for me”, and, “I’m going to pass on this”, came into existence.

  24. Avatar C.J. says:

    you can’t scam me if i send my query via email, right? whew. just in case, i’ll warn you, jessica – i’m very well connected with the upper levels of the minneapolis postal system : )

  25. Clearly she doesn’t realize that many of us would PAY to have a reputable agent provide editorial comment! Maybe the sheer number of form rejections fried her poor mind and made her think agents don’t do that? 😉

  26. Avatar jodi says:

    lol–sorry–it’s late in the post. But I had to laugh. STOP stealing stamps!!!!

  27. Avatar Wanda B. Ontheshelves says:

    And then, after the righteous indignation wears off, the steamed stamp diatribe winds down…the disappointment, if not humiliation…hopefully not to be borne alone.

    Writers beware: Go to your writers’ group and get the support that you need, so you don’t end up rubbing salt into your own wounded ego, lashing out about steamed stamps and “cheap editorialism.”

  28. Re: “Jessica sits surrounded by thousands of steamed-off stamps”

    A claustrophobic nightmare, perfect for a Halloween story – “The Stamp Witch.”

  29. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I am with the anonymous who wrote that she could hear that author’s pain. I am quite literate, but have been embarrassed to later read what I earlier wrote when anxious or stressed. I guess that what I really want to say is that a crap writer has the same feelings as a good writer. Fear of rejection. And she got it big time in a tatty old envelope. Let me know where I can send you some money to buy new envelopes to send rejections to authors. People like myself, who are new to this writing business, feel at a huge disadvantage to people like agents and publishers who seem to wield such power.

    I still love your blog, but not this particular post.

  30. Avatar Anonymous says:

    You know you did it.

  31. Avatar Anne-Marie says:

    Boy did that author sound steamed!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist)

    *head shake and a half*

  32. Avatar serious writer says:

    Actually, the self-stick stamps can be peeled off if you’re careful. I don’t bother to steam/soak them off anymore. (I’m a canceled stamp collector.)

    I suppose I ought to feel sorry for the rejected writer, but I just can’t. I feel like giving them a lecture about “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” I’m published in non-fiction, so I occasionally get requests through friends about relatives that would love for me to critique their book. Normally, I find a way to pass, but I decided to critique this one lady’s fantasy novella because the characters were good even if the writing needed work. I was careful to point out what was good as well as some things that could be done to improve things (and why it would imporve things). I put a lot of time and effort on it. I got this scathing e-mail in reply saying that I was going out of my way to tear her down because I was afraid of the competition and that only a few pieces of my advice were remotely useful, but she supposed that was because I only spent a few minute in writing the critique. U-huh. But that hurt. I’m never critiquing a newbie again, talented or not. Thus, my desire to shake this writer for his/her reaction to Jessica’s critique. If you don’t like someone’s critique, go burn the thing and mop about it with your best friend. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

  33. Jessica,
    Can I bribe you with stamps? I have them from all over the world and I’ll enclose them with my next submission if only you would give me some “cheap editorialism”! I could slip them in stratigic places in my manuscript so you’ll get a surprize at every page you turn….
    Sorry….still laughing at the thought of you steaming off those stamps.
    ok, i’ll stop now.
    Keep dishing out that cheap editorialism! There are those of us who would deeply appreciate any comments you’d care to make.

  34. Well, in response to the last anonymous poster, I will say this.

    The author emailed this letter to the COMPANY, basically trashing the agents name to her bosses.

    Then, she accused the agent of unprofessional AND illegal behavior (laughable possibly, but still ugly)

    This may not be your favorite post but it points out something that newer authors can take note.

    Restraint of tongue and pen. And email.

    This saves future authors from saying things that may bite them later.

    Just sayin’

  35. Avatar Christine says:

    Oh goodness. Maybe at the bottom of future rejection letters, there should be a disclaimer that all disparaging responses to said rejection will be immediately thrown into the inferno that your minions keep lit for that purpose. And hey, that inferno could be used to steam off stamps!

  36. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I understand you may not remember this particular person, but I’m so confused. Did she not send a SASE and someone just stuck her letter in the old envelope and send it back? I’ve got rejection letters from many people, inlcuding this agency, and never once got it in an old envelope. This whole thing just sounds wierd.

  37. Hey Jessica,
    First time on your sight and I’m in stitches. Anyone who has been writing for a while can tell you stories about whackos like this amid peer groups, but to act in this unprofessional manner about feedback from BookEnds? Hello!? We writers are lucky to get anything but a form rejection letter with a, “thanks, try us again.” Please allow me to say thank you for taking the time to give feedback. We NEED feedback! We WANT it! How else would we improve our writing? Heck, I might even send you a book of stamps to show my appreciation of your contribution toward the betterment of our efforts.


  38. Avatar Deanna Lee says:

    You know– I never look at the stamps. Are you re-using my stamps, too? GASP. HORROR.

    Seriously- this is exactly why when I get irritated about something (no matter what or who it is about) I force myself to get up and leave my computer before I do something foolish.

    All I can really say about the author of that email is.. “Bless her heart”.