What Not to Do

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Aug 21 2006

I know that writers get extremely nervous when talking to agents and I do understand and forgive a lot of what is said or done because of that nervousness. However, there are still definitely some things that, no matter how nervous they are, authors should avoid doing.

One of these happened to me recently, and while I can laugh at it now, it does make me considerably less enthusiastic about reviewing the writer’s work, and I will certainly keep it in mind when that proposal does cross my desk.

While chatting between sessions at a conference, a writer, in her enthusiasm to tell me everything about her book, proceeded to tell me in great detail about her submission process and the reactions (read rejections) of other agents. The first thing she did is explain the tier process in which she submits—I immediately discovered that I was not in her first tier. I truly wish you could see my face even as I write this. Seriously! Whether or not an agent is your first tier agent (or a publisher for that matter), it’s better to let them think they are. I don’t think I need to explain this in too much detail. It’s human nature. No matter what, we all want to think that we’re first tier in everything we’re picked for. Think of it this way: it’s like your husband telling you that he wanted to date your best friend first, but after she rejected him, he asked you out.

The next thing she did was give the details of who did reject the book and what certain (in her mind, big name) agents said in their rejections, and how close they were to offering representation. (Still shaking my head in shock). Again, imagine sitting with that cute boy before you married or dated him while he tells you every reason every other girl rejected him, and then he asks you out. I don’t think so!

So, what do I know and remember about this book? I remember the title and, primarily, I remember all of the other agents who rejected it and their reasons. This certainly doesn’t bode well for my own review of the work.


6 responses to “What Not to Do”

  1. Avatar Loralee says:

    This must be what is referred to as “shooting yourself in the foot”. I can’t imagine this writer really expected a positive reaction from you. No wonder she has a laundry list of rejections.

  2. Avatar Tess says:

    I’m totally speechless, I mean, how stupid can a person be?

  3. If that writer reads this blog, she will be mortified. I’m sure she never intended to insult Jessica. If anything, she probably said what she did to impress Jessica.

    Sooner or later, we’re all going to make an asterisk out of ourselves. (I’m plagarizing Miss Snark here.) Years ago, I sent a query letter to an agent and misspelled her middle name due to a typo in the newsletter of my local writers group. She never answered me. When I realized what had happened, I felt, well, mortified. lol. I immediately sent her another letter, apologizing for the mistake and explaining what had happened.

    She still never responded.

    I signed with another agency and a year or so later, after my first book came out, I saw her at a writers conference. I just smiled and nodded but I could tell by the way she was reading my badge that she remembered that query letter. Aaack.

    *waves at Loralee* I could have really used one of your strawberry margarita grande! lol.


  4. Umm, that would be an automatic no from you, correct? LOL

  5. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    Well, Jessica, I can say in all honesty, you are the only one I ever proposed to and I was a total agent virgin when we met.