4.06.2007

BAD bad bad idea

Dear Miss Snark,
A friend and I, in an attempt to encourage ourselves to get off our duffs and submit the manuscripts we've been sitting on, thought of posting the rejection letters we are sure to receive on a blog with possibly amusing comments from one or both of us. Would agents be likely to get upset if the blog were generally available for reading by whoever happens by? That is, should we go the more-traditional route of papering our walls with such letters or using them as scratch-paper? We're aware that most of these are likely to be form letters and therefore not fascinating to anyone but us.


au contraire, mon cher.

Posting your rejection letters with "amusing comments" is funny right up until you post one from me. The advent of the "egogoogle" means I see a lot of what you write about me that you perhaps wish I hadn't. I don't send you rejection letters with the idea you'll post them and comment. You can certainly do it, but you'll have to embrace the fall out as readily as you do the fun of the moment.


I had recently heard from an editor who told me about a blogger who was outraged to hear a writing conference wanted her blog posts about agents attending the conference to be "toned down". The blogger thought she was being helpful. The agents who read her comments were more than a bit taken aback to find their bios critiqued and their job history reviewed.

(If you want an explanation of why that was not a good idea, remember agents are guests of conferences; don't get paid to attend; and being critiqued in public may be a job hazard these days but it's not the part we like best. It doesn't feel very welcoming if you look up a conference, and one of the blogs linked to the site is shredding you. Consider it this way: would you feel good about a conference that posted your bio/resume and critiqued it?).

These are the kinds of conversations and amusements best left OFF your websites and blogs. This is what dive bars, cloak rooms and Miss Snark's Salon for Wayward Agents are for.

Resist.

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

To be inaccurate about the facts is not the same as 'having an opinion' and stating it as such. The blogger in question seriously pissed off at least one agent whom I know, and yes, it was done under the veneer of affiliation with PNWA. Blogging can reach back and smack you in the face--think before you slap your words up on the net. You aren't writing in a vacuum, even though it sometimes seems so.

Maya Reynolds said...

Save your rejection letters for your tax file as proof that you're actively pursuing your goal of writing and, therefore, are entitled to all those huge writeoffs you took in the name of your new profession.

Christine said...

I agree with anonymous. Critiquing job histories and bios is much more 'personal' than commenting on a rejection letter.

Authors aren't supposed to take rejection letters peronally, right? So agents shouldn't take a little good natured ribbing (as long a that's ALL it remains) personally either.

The second it gets berating to the agent personally (or picking on the occasional typo) is the second it should stop, but I can't see the harm in a little rejecting the rejection. :)
I'm assuming these are form rejections - which would make them all sound pretty much the same anyway. I would never post personal rejections, because those are usually encouraging, despite the no.

Anonymous said...

It's been done, and done, and done, and.....

Everyone Who's Anyone

http://everyonewhosanyone.com/agus1.html

Back to the drawing board to try to come up with an actual new idea.

scaredyfraid said...

WOW - having read Miss Snark's post and clicked over the the blog in question, I feel that I have just drunk a taaaalll glass of "Gin and Bitters."

Blogging is a free for all of public info. I've learned this the hard way as many of my autism related words have ended up in OTHER PEOPLE'S BLOGS and then editorialized and twisted and bludgeoned to death - then they turn up in Google searches - well out of my control. It's not fun to read "Kim Stagliano's writing is pathetic" in a Google Search. Trust me. It's scary. So I now mostly blog under "other" even if I use my name. Lesson learned.

Kim Stagliano

Anonymous said...

Gerard Jones over on everyonewhosanyone has been doing this for a while. He especially likes to post the salty responses and watch agents squirm. Not sure this has helped his career any. Me thinks it's best if you listen to the Snarkalicious One. She's trying to save us from ourselves.

PS I do love his website though.

Anonymous said...

Now, see, I have another opinion. If an agent or editor gets dissed for something she or he said or did, that's fine. Maybe they shouldn't have said it in the first place. Everything is on the record. Shape up and you won't get gossiped about on blogs or anywhere else.

Anne Mini said...

As the blogger in question, I can state categorically that none of my profiles ever shredded anyone: agents expect the writers who approach them to be familiar with what they represent, and I listed their recent sales so that writers planning to pitch to them would not pitch to the wrong people.

All of which, incidentally, was information they had made available elsewhere, on the net and in books. It is in fact public information, and I did not report anything that had not been reported in another credible source.

Several agents approached me at the conference and thanked me for producing the profiles, as did several of the editors. No one at my agency has ever heard anything negative about my efforts. And at the time, I was the PNWA's blogger, and they knew I was doing these profiles. Not a peep from anyone.

In fact, literally no one complained until this week, 10 months after the original posts and long after I had stopped blogging for the PNWA -- and even then, I have heard it only as a rumor. And in a form so vague that I cannot possibly go back and correct any inaccuracies, if indeed there were any.

That being said, Anonymous, since you are the only person who claims to know who was upset, please have that agent contact me though my blog (Miss Snark has been kind enough to post the link already) as soon as possible, and I will happily delete any inaccuracies.

Heck, I'll delete the post. I don't want to have inaccurate information in my archives.

But if Miss Snark is correct -- and I have to say, hers is the first explanation of the situation that I've heard so far that remotely makes sense -- what I am accused of doing doesn't have anything to do with the accuracy of the profiles themselves. The objection, as nearly as I can tell, is to my having an opinion and sharing it.

As flattering as it is to be mentioned here, I fail to see why that is so shocking that people should be gossiping about it a year aftter the fact.

jhosacrw said...

Not to mention that everyone who would be interested in such a blog has plenty of their own rejection letters, and plenty of their own funny comments. It's like why nobody wants to read a blog about your cat, either.

Andrew said...

The thing that bothers me about this plan is not any possible fallout from the agents, but that it seems like a waste of time. It makes me think of those people who wait for days in line to audition for American Idol, not because they want to sing, but because they've thought of an oh-so-clever way to tell Simon Cowell he's a bastard. The plan ends with self-righteous indignation, the ultimate path of the misunderstood artist. You get to make possibly amusing retorts, but first you have to seek out some rejection letters to get outraged about.

It's a given: you will get rejection letters. Even the kind ones will sting. You will go over every word looking for hints: "Oh! She said my book sounds valuable! But then she said it's not commercial!" And your friends who love you will encourage you to be indignant because they're indignant on your behalf.

But in the end, you can play the game ironically, or you can play to win. You can show up to auditions hoping for a moment on TV giving Simon Cowell what-for, or you can show up to auditions--or send your writing out--because you have a voice, and you want people to hear it.

If you need anything more than that to get off your duff and submit, then you're not ready to.

Manic Mom said...

I love my rejection letters. Each one got me closer to finding an agent. I think nothing negative of those agents who rejected me (oh, OK, except for the one who told me she was never having children so she wouldn't even consider my book, to which I replied, "You're never going to murder anyone, so does that mean you don't like books with murders in them?")

Time for an appletini me thinks. It is after 5 already.

BenPanced said...

I must be from the bygone era where private correspondence is private and is only shared if both parties consent.

And look at it this way: would you want an agent posting verbatim the partial she rejected with "amusing" commentary?

Anonymous said...

Gerald Jones is considered a bit of a joke by many agents and editors. He can be quite rude and is often inaccurate, and as a result has pretty much alienated himself in the industry. So next time you check out his site just keep that mind...

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I just looked at one of the "agent blurb critiques" on said blogger's blog, after reading her VERY long-winded and nasty defense -- and I TOTALLY see why agents or editors and/or PNWA are upset. It's not what she says (well, okay, some of it is!) -- it's the incredibly disdainful way she says it.

Just one more example of how the Internet can spread idiocy, ill-manners, insanity (Space Ark, anyone?) or conceit better kept secret.

chris said...

So true that she is disdainful, self-important, and confrontational in her online critiques of agents' blurb-biographies.

I mean, seriously, would you take this blogger's advice on how to deal with anyone, much less someone with whom you want to form a working relationship? Maybe this confrontational style works for her, but I'm guessing she alienates more often than not.

Kit Whitfield said...

If you haven't already read it, it's worth reading the famous essay from publisher Teresa Nielsen Hayden about rejectioncollection.com, which posts and discusses rejection letters:

http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html

She discusses various comments on the site from a publisher's perspective. The lesson there is that it's easy to make yourself look bad doing this; hurt feelings and frustration don't necessarily lead to the soundest of insights. You can wind up alienating people.

It's a high risk. If you don't use your own names, what's to distinguish your site from the many sites that already exist? But if you do it under your own names, do you want to risk publishers seeing your comments and deciding you're too difficult to work with? Because there's a tendency in websites of this kind to start treating agents and publishers as enemies, dark legions of stupidity and meanness that are putting up barriers between you and your dreams, that you have to trick or bludgeon into submission, or fire back at when they've upset you ... and that's an unprofessional attitude. The more you do it, the greater the temptation, especially as you may get applause from angry would-be-published writers who like to hear rejection letters slammed because they've had one too many of them. But if you want to get published, the last thing you want to do is establish a public persona that puts you on one side and everyone who works in publishing on the other.

The kind of things you say to cheer yourself up when you've had a knock-back are generally best kept private. You and your friend could keep a diary between the two of you, e-mail each other about the rejections you've had, meet for dinner and make your amusing comments to each other. As you seem to expect your blog only to be read by the two of you, you'd lose nothing by not posting your remarks. But keep it off the web. You want to impress publishers and agents, not other aspiring writers or each other, and the people you want to impress may not view your jokes the same way you do. That energy you would spend blogging would be better employed writing new application letters and planning your next novels.

On the other hand, congratulations for being realistic about the fact that you'll probably get some rejections along the way and planning on dealing with them. A blog is probably not the best method, but a sense of humour is good. Best of luck with getting published to both of you.

David Thayer said...

I don't follow the logic of comparing Anne's blog to posting rejection letters. Anne's intent seems to be to prepare writers for the PNWA conference, to avoid wasting time pitching agents who aren't interested in specific genres or who may have not a track record selling similar work. I'm not sure she succeeds at this. All conferences are a crapshoot for writers. Career blurbs don't tell you much, tastes change, markets evolve, people switch jobs.
A more interesting topic might examine why you want to go to PNWA in the first place, what your goals are, and is it worth the cost for what is a generally intangible reward? Fixating on agents can ruin the experience, not because of them, but because of misplaced priorities.

Kit Whitfield said...

I wasn't talking about Anne's blog; I was addressing the question the author who e-mailed Miss Snark actually asked, which was whether or not she and her friend should post their rejections online.

Anonymous said...

If the tone of that blogger's reply to the email is anything like her normal posts, I haven't missed anything by not reading her site up till now. What venom and pettiness. Every "sic" was sick (especially when she went on to make typos in her furious rebuttal), as was her nasty "call me Phd" comment that began the response.

What a shock to find an author is touchy and neurotic. But I am pleased for once not to be linked to a site I want to visit again. I have too many bookmarks as it is.

To get back to the question Miss Snark got: There's a whole site dedicated to "humorous" replies to rejection letters (rejectioncollection, I think it's called). It pisses off those who write the letters, and it makes the authors look pathetic, needy, and like they have an axe to grind with little logic to back up their persecution complexes.

I'd have posted my first rant on the blogger's own site, but based on the sycophantic replies she got, it would've been lost in the noise.

Jeb said...

I understand wanting to make a joke of rejection letters to take the sting out of them. However,
Anna Louise Genovese (I think) had a post a year or so back that seems relevant. I don't remember the date or the title and can't find same (although I am utterly sure I saved the post and sent the link to every writer in my in-box). The main thrust, however, remains clear in my mind:

DON'T BE STUPID IN PUBLIC [period]

That broad generalization includes, to my mind, sharing your rejection/humiliation with anyone but your closest writing buddies and your gin bottle; picking on agents or editors or other people's mothers on your blog; deliberately foregoing hygiene at a writers conference to 'make a point' about the shallowness of agents who won't look past your egg-stained old sweatshirt to appreciate your deathless saga.

As for that linked blog, the tone speaks volumes. The wannabe-writers' corollory to 'Don't Be Stupid In Public' might be 'Play Well With Others'. If you don't, I don't want to know you, much less have a business relationship with you.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, that blogger is a bit paranoid. If someone told you that, 'For your own reputation,' you should get the fact right on your web site...

would you actually believe they were making a "threat" to your reputation?