Neener Neener, part two

Further on the idea of calling an editor who didn't buy your book to "share the good news" that it sold. This comment surfaced in the comments column:

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.

Far more rude things? Like what? from my perspective as the one getting this kind of call/letter/email, there is no purpose other than to say "you fucked up." The original post described this as "sharing good news". What's good about it for me? Remember, we're not friends. We're not siblings. We're not old chums from prison.

I don't remember the people I have to reject for whatever reason. I DO remember the people who call me up and are snotty.

If you don't understand why this is snotty, just take my word for it. And for everyone else, no matter what, do NOT call an agent or editor to tell them you placed a work elsewhere UNLESS they have the work in active consideration. I don't care if you think you know them, love them, have had sex with them even without regrets in the morning. Just don't. Y


Anonymous said...

Right on, Miss Snark.

Several months ago I was reading the blog of an author who had sold her debut novel. Her first agent didn't like the book, so the author switched agents and the book sold quickly. The author blogged about how she couldn't wait to send agent #1 an autographed copy of her book. Neener neener. That's when I stopped reading that author's blog.

litagent said...

Oh, and just to be clear, the same goes for calling or emailing an agent who has passed on representing you to say, "I found an agent." (One writer actually emailed me and said, "I've found an agent, so boo on you." Honest) Usually I just repond politely, "Terrific, good luck with it," but with Miss Snark as an example, who knows how snarky I might get.

Anonymous said...

I think what some writers forget is that no one HAS to jump for joy when receiving their manuscript and immediately sign them up for a contract. Like anyone in sales knows, you go out and offer your product, making sure its the best product you can produce and you believe in it, and you can't hold it against someone if that product is not for them. I was a publisher (in law publishing, so different to fiction, but I still know how it works) and so now I've seen both sides of the coin. Thinking back I feel slightly guilty at how I dimissed certain submissions out of hand now that I'm a writer, but only because perhaps at times you were so bombarded you forgot there was a human being at the other end. I would NEVER EVER phone some one up to 'share the good news' in order to rub their nose in it. If it was good and they passed, it was their loss. Move on and be happy you sold.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark is absolutely correct.

I was sorely tempted to take a handful of my columns and shove them rudely in the face of my twelve grade English teacher who said I couldn't write, let alone get paid for it.

But I opted for letting her open her Saturday paper and see my smiling face every week.

I'm sure Miss Snark gets a big enough jolt seeing a book she turned down show up on the PW bestseller list. Pointing it out would just add salt to the wound.

Anonymous said...

Goodness, to do this sounds like the biggest nyah-nyah going. And when the deal falls through, you've managed to really screw up any second chances. Professionalism is the key. That, and biting your tongue. susan @ Spinning

Anonymous said...

I once sent a ms to a big agent and she called me to talk about my book. Although she said she couldn't rep it because she didn't know who would buy it, she did say she felt it would sell and that I should keep working on it and keep sending it out. We talked for about 15 minutes on the phone and then she asked me to let her know when I sold it so she could celebrate with me. (She was telling me it wasn't ready for her or anyone else. I got that. But she was also telling me that it could be one day and that she loved the premise.)

That was 6 years ago. It sold this year and I did email her to let her know that it had sold and that I was putting her in the acknowledgements because she was so supportive of my work. She was thrilled and life goes on.

I know, it's another take on this whole thing. But this kind of thing happens, you know. We do make some relationships along the way with people who take an interest in our work. And it's those relationships that have kept me going over the years because when a professional tells you that you have what it takes but you need to work just a little bit harder to get your work to a marketable place, well, I listen.

I've gotten help from several editors and a couple of agents, none of whom ended up repping/buying this book, and I am very appreciative for the honestly they used in talking to me about my work. They helped me see the truly important things in my books and that helped me learn to develop them.

You know what I'm saying, Miss Snark. I'm sure you've made a friend or two along the way and that there are writers you have helped but ended up not repping.

Anonymous said...

While I don't disagree with Miss Snark's original take on this "episode", I do disagree on the "harm" of sharing "good news". I have had work almost bought by an editor of a "smallish" house, and she was very concerned, kind, and hopeful I would place it elsewhere. She was a good person. She wasn't a narcissist who remembered everything that didn't reflect her glory as totally evil.
I think this editor wasn't so kind, but geez, let's lighten up. This isn't a zero-sum game. Again, I wouldn't do this over the same--hell, I wouldn't ever call her--but sharing the nice news that the book found a home isn't on the level of 9-11, Katrina, sunamis, or even a bad mugging. Let's grow up, please!

Anonymous said...

That reminds me that yes, along the way there are usually many people involved with a ms before it gets sold and becomes a book. I would love to hear good news about something I didn't buy/rep, since, hey, it's good news. To complain about someone gloating shows as thin a skin as the person gloating. Ergo, this is no big thing, just make sure you aren't leaving a trail of "I told you so's".

Anonymous said...

I kind of think that it is a big thing. I wonder how many writers would be happy if an editor who had turned them down then called a month or two later to share the happy news that they had accepted someone else's manuscript? Especially if it was someone with whom we had had no previous (i.e., non-professional) contact?

I think that it would take a near-saint not to consider it an act of pure neen-neenerism.

Rick said...

Context is everything, isn't it? In most cases, telling an agent who passed on you that you sold the ms elsewhere would be a tasteless neener-neener, but Anonymous # 2 did just the right thing in that particular situation.

Sonarbabe said...

I am still in awe that a person actually had the cahunas to do that. As a rejection letter champion, I can understand why they did it, but I'm so darn afraid of my name getting passed around negatively that I wouldn't even dare.

"You wouldn't believe the unbelievably childish call I got today," Agent A says while sipping her Alabama Slammer.

"Oh really? From who?" Editor B from In-Your-Wildest-Dreams-Books asks after downing her shot of Cabo Wabo tequila.

"A writer names Sonarbabe had the audacity to call to gloat over her success. I passed on her work for personal reasons and she acts like I did her an injustice," Agent A shakes her head, "And people wonder why I do this."

Editor B shakes her head in dismay. "I'll keep that in mind should I see that name cross my desk."

Yikes! 'Tis why I smile, say thank you for your time and carry on. In my mind I may go, "Ha!" when/if I get picked up by You-Wish-Publishing, but never to their face. It's, like Miss Snark said, unbecoming. Just my humble, albeit long winded, two cents.