Miss Snark does not condone...

Dear Miss Snark, A month ago, I called an editor at a big house in NY to share with her the good news that in Spring '07 my novel--that she rejected a couple of years ago, after keeping me hanging for months on end--is going to be published by another big house in NY. She was, as always, chilly about the whole thing. I thanked her for her interest, which kept me writing, and wished her well. After I hung up, I felt, well, wretched. Although I didn't actually say, "Nah-nah! You missed out!" my motives included this sentiment. Was it okay to let Miss Icicle know I am not spinning off into void because she didn't like my stuff?

No. This is called gloating. It ill becomes you, and you know it cause you felt wretched.

The only time it is ok to make these "neener neener" calls is if an editor still has your manuscript. Then it's called "withdrawing my work from consideration".


Bernita said...

Makes me think of chickens:counting, hatching, roosting, etc.
If the book doesn't sell well enough ( I'm not suggesting it won't, but sometimes these thing happen regardless), you might imagine her down the line coldly "ne'er, ne'ering."

Wouldn't the publication list AND nice sales heap your coals instead?
But one understands the temptation, nevertheless.

Kitty said...

At the risk of sounding like a scold ... Not only have you burned a bridge, but your phone call may be passed around within the business.

harridan said...


I think you really feel wretched because you burned a bridge, and you know it.

If the editor didn't bother to remember your name before, she certainly does now. And not in a good way.

You always need to take that time to step back, step way back, and consider the possible ramifications of sending a neener neener type message or phone call.

Editors change houses frequently, and you don't need one of them remembering your name for bad reasons.

My two cents

Anonymous said...

Feel wretched, then move on. You just sold your book! Congratulations!

Anonymous said...

Well, Let's not exaggerate: I didn't lob a verbal handgrenade, the conversation was friendly, I WAS sharing good news, and yes, I wouldn't do it again!!

Desperate Writer said...

Oh, the temptation! But this is one that should always be resisited, because people talk. Word gets around. But what's done is done, and the best thing you can do is put it behind you and not talk about it to ANYONE, anymore, and from now on behave in a kind, professional manner with those you interact with in your career.

Anonymous said...

I have to say, I can't believe you did that.

You say the conversation was "friendly" and that you were sharing "good news," but that's only from YOUR perspective. The news certainly wasn't "good" from the editor's perspective, was it? And, if you were in her shoes, would you consider such an exchange "friendly"?

It's sort of akin to phoning up your girlfriend and saying, "Oh, I just wanted to share the wonderful news that your ex-boyfriend and I are getting married! So sorry to hear you're still single, but I hope you'll come to the wedding." Sure, it's good news from your end, and if your girlfriend is classy, she behaved in a "friendly" way, but it's still a neener-neener.

Bernita said...

After some months, you might consider mailing her a nice thank you for her encouragement, NOT MENTIONING your sale.
That might help fade/obscure/overwrite any sense of slight/thumbed nose she might feel.
Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

If you call up an editor who had your manuscript "a few years ago" to tell her, apropos of nothing, that you sold it elsewhere, that is not a friendly conversation.

If you run into said editor under other circumstances, and she says, "Oh, Author. How are you? You sent me something once, didn't you?" and you say, "Why yes, I sent you Title. Actually, it's published by Fabulous House next summer" then *that's* perfectly friendly.

Also not friendly, no matter how much you mean it to be (and I *swear* I did): having nice chat at cocktail party with agent/editor who sent you lovely, encouraging rejection letter for last submission, requesting that you send them your next project (which you never got a chance to do, because you did place original project), mentioning how much you appreciated their lovely encouraging rejection letter. You mean it with utmost respect and love, and they see it as a) sour grapes, b) neener neener. Just the way things are.

Kat said...

I can actually imagine doing this, because my manuscript is currently on query to an agent that I hung out with (as in, went to a concert with) at a convention. I made it clear in the query that I was looking forward to meeting her again someday whether she rejected my query or not. One of the other people at the concert with her had been rejected by her, but still quite obviously enjoyed her company. Because she's a person, not just an agent.

If she rejects me and I later place the work, I probably will drop her a note letting her know that, and I'm sure she'll congratulate me. Because she's a person, not just an agent, and will be happy to know an aquaintence has had a stroke of luck even if the book wasn't right for her.

If I hadn't met her, but she'd spent time on the manuscript before finally saying "No, it's not quite right for me, I'm sorry," then I'd have done the same and expected the same response.

I think it's the distinct impression you gave that you didn't like this editor and resented her handling of the book that makes this all seem puzzling and slightly petty. It's one thing to let someone you had a good relationship with know that you've placed the book; it's quite another thing, and perhaps a childish thing, to do the same for someone with whom your relationship was neutral to poor.

Anonymous said...

Well, I doubt she'll brood on this for very long. Look, we never met; she turned down my ms; I shared my good news with her, and yes, there was a hint of gloating, and that's why I wouldn't do it again. It wasn't as if I looked into her eyes searchingly over a glass of wine for sixth months, was dumped by her, and called to let her know I am marrying a member of the Gates' family. If she's a pro, she think, well, here a young writer made good, he wasn't terribly professional about that call--even a hint of gloat is nasty--and move on. I am not my writing; she is not her editing.

But I promise, that's the last time I do such a thing! It's not good to preen over good fortune.

Anonymous said...

Geez people... it was one phone call. It's not like she called her the nasty names that might have been inside her head. I wouldn't do it- but I suspect in the wacky world of publishing far stranger and far more rude things come across this editor's desk. I doubt she's on some master list with a black mark next to her name. I would chalk it up to a learning experience and move on.

The Gambino Crime Family said...

No, you probably shouldn't have, but it's understandable... particularly if a number of free, extensive rewrites were involved.

Besides, in the scheme of things, your career now depends on how well your novel does. If you get good reviews and earn out your advance, than you're off to the races. And if - God forbid - it doesn't sell well two years from now, this one particular editor wouldn't have helped you call or no call.

So don't stress about it. You've got bigger things to worry about.