3.27.2006

Rejection mistakes

Miss Snark,

So, I sent a query letter to an agent, along with the first three chapters.
The response: standard form letter, which is no big surprise. But in the form letter, the agent mentioned the title of the novel. Problem, the title wasn't mine.

What's the best way to go about find out whether or not my query letter also deserved the old heave-ho, or that perhaps there was just a mix-up down at agent central? I'm assuming the agent wouldn't still have a
copy of my chapters.

Is the best course of action just to send another letter, along with the same chapters, explaining the situation and asking them to take another look?

Or, as an overwrought writer, should I flame the agent mercilessly on the Internet for having the temerity to be human and make a mistake and, if she ever crosses in front of me in traffic, speeding up?


Thanks for the fantastic blog and all your help.


I vote for B. Eviscerate the agent on every writer discussion board you can find. In fact, you might want to post your doubts as to whether the agent actually read it since she got such a fundamental thing as the title wrong. And of course, this is proof (yet again) that agents are evil, interested only in commercial pop star fiction, and really, POD is the way to go.

On the other hand, this happens all the time. It happens to me with letter from editors and publishers. They've rejected fiction that was non-fiction, characters instead of authors, Agent Fabulosity instead of me, and in a one time only takes the cake example of BAD database management...a novel they'd already bought. Ah yes. Let me tell you that one gave me heart failure. THAT was the one where I called up and said "hey...".

But I also call up on the other stuff too but it's cause I have an ongoing, working relationship with these editors. I don't ask em why they screwed up, I just say "thanks for looking at my novella in haiku, sorry it wasn't right, how do you feel about linked short stories in the second person".

If someone wants to see more is they will write you a letter asking for it (or an email). Getting things wrong on the rejection letter is a mistake of course, but it's rejection none the less.


If you really really think it's a mistake (which of course you do cause you're a writer and by definition think all rejections are a mistake) just send it back. Please do NOT mention the previous mix up. You're going to get another form letter but this time you might believe they really did look at your work.

4 comments:

Maria said...

I got someone else's manuscript back with a rejection letter once. There I sat with it--knowing this poor woman would not get an answer at all...wondering away...I wrote the agent and let her know about the mistake. The agency sent me an envelope (SASE) and had me send it back to them so that they could properly send it along. At the same time, the agent mentioned she hadn't read my manuscript yet. I got an answer without asking the obvious.

Anonymous said...

heh . . . did you read the rejected ms?

Anonymous said...

Well...I do have a little problem with agents who are all friendly and emaily before they get the submission THEY'VE PERSONALLY requested, and then send a form rejection letter from the agency (not even from their formerly personable selves) that says, "due to the enormous number of submissions we receive...we gotta send you a form letter." It's the language I have trouble with. Shouldn't they claim a bit more responsibility for their actions, like how about a form letter that says, "due to the enormous number of submissions WE REQUEST...we gotta send this form letter." hmmm? They're not exactly victims. Sniff! (Like me!)

Anonymous said...

Okay. I got a rejection from an agent on my partial, and sandwiched between it was my query letter with some nasty comments on it that I was sure I shouldn't have gotten back--I hope. Now, my first thought was to bad mouth said agent all over kingdom come, but saner thoughts prevailed, telling me it probably wasn't said agent, but said agent's assistant, or nitwit dog, not nearly as bright as KY. And regardless--I hope--was a mistake and not meant for my eyes, because I really cried some crocodile tears, thinking my writing was crap--after all, that was what the notes on my query letter said. But then I got over it a few days later. Right after an editor called me up and wanted to see the manuscript, which she bought a week later.

But if I had announced it all over, I probably would've found out just how small this writing world is, and said agent was best friends with new editor, who might not have been so anxious to take on newby bigmouth writer...