Not quite nitwittery cause you didn't DO it

Finally a solution for all of my friends who have decided that the pen really is mightier than the sword....This can be used in anger, burnt or pinned up on the wall along with all of your rejection letters... Not that I am jaded, just wanting to vent and had a great time writing this. Hope you are having a splendid day.

Dear Agent X,

Thank you for posting a web site announcing that you are now accepting queries in the following categories: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Childrens, Young Adult, Everything in-between and Non-Fiction. As you may already know, I am very selective about the agents I choose to query. My projects take up lots of my time, make me sweat, drink heavily and often have me considering the state mental facility as my next home. I have ignored family, friends and chosen a solitary state of mind (other than the voices that speak to me) in order to write the novel that I should be sending you.

As you might guess, this leaves me very little time to go through agent listings and I must seek out the brightest, most tenacious and best looking agents that I can possibly find on the internet. Plus, your website must be spectacular in order to catch my attention.

In your case, I must say, although you have piqued my interest with your website and the list of clients you have posted, I have to take a pass. Even though I am choosing not to query you at this time, this does not mean you're not good enough, or not even a real human being, it just means you are not on my personal "A" list of agents. So carry on with your work, as I am sure you will find a best seller among the slush pile that is probably propping up the door to your office.

Please feel free to query me regarding my works after I have made the NY Times Best Seller List or you can take a look at a sample of my works on the website: www.fatchance.comma

Thank you for not sending me hate mail,

Ms. Anonymous Jaded Writer

I'd have thought this was a joke if I hadn't gotten a couple like them in the mail.

Do you honest to dog think I don't get rejection letters? I get more in a month than you do in a year. I can get 12-15 rejections on novels and double that on non-fiction. That's for EACH project, and I have 25 active clients right now.

And before you get your feathers in a fluff and start twittering about how I should know who's the perfect editor for every project when I try to sell it, let's all remember that I DO know these editors and this IS the stuff they buy. Just not this.

One of the biggest hurdles you need to get over is not taking this personally. It CANT be personal: I do not KNOW you. If anyone could take rejection personally it's me: I DO know these editors; they are the ones I see at conferences, sit on panels with, go to lunch with, and pitch again on other things. They do know me. It's still not personal.

Get over yourself.


Ryan Field said...

Good post.

bjh said...

Good Lord. I was laughing until I read you actually do get letters like this. "Get over Yourself" is right; my prose is magnificent, of course, but it ain't gonna make or break your future.

Kanani said...

and best looking agents that I can possibly find on the internet

May I suggest eHarmony? Match.com?

Emily Veinglory said...

I shall have to weedle my way into the inner circle to the point where I can get a personal rejection! After all, everyone needs something to get righteously indignant about (apparently).

ORION said...

This is an excellent point.
Rejection is a fact of life whether you are applying for a particular college or another position at work.
It is not just something writers experience.
Just because we get more of them does not mean somehow we are targeted personally. By sending out our work we are asking for a decision about the work. Not us.
Now if I was getting rejections out of the blue when I had not submitted my work...well I might be a tad sensitive in that instance.

Janny said...

Actually, it just sounds like Miss Snark needs a hug.


I loved that letter. It gave me a chuckle, and in this world of "If We Don't Get Back to You, We Ain't Interested, Except Maybe We'll Take So Long to Get Back to You That You'll Think We're Not, But Really, We're Just Disorganized, But When We Do Get Back to You, You Just Better Be Ready to Drop Everything, and We Can Still Reject You So Don't Take It Personally," if it makes anyone squirm...maybe it ought to.

If rejection truly goes both ways, then both sides need to remember it's not personal. Whether you know who's doing it or not.


Maria said...

I get your points, and they're valid, except you keep saying not to take this stuff personally and that's just impossible. When you create something that comes from your heart or intellect or values, and it's not accepted, it's personal.

No, you don't know the author, but it's still personal.

John Elder Robison said...

It's worth mentioning the rejections agents and even authors have to give publishers, which can be hard, too.

I personally wrote every publisher who met me after reading my book, Look Me In The Eye. I wanted to thank them for reading it and taking the time to present their house to me.

Who knows when our paths may cross in the future?

And my agent still got chewed up a but by the editors who didn't get the book.

We authors aren't the only ones to worry about rejection in this industry.

Andrew said...

When I hear about bitter and needy unpublished writers, I always wonder if they would, given the chance, become equally bitter and equally needy published writers. If they can direct this much bitterness at an agent who passes on the manuscript, would they end up, after their book is published, haunting the local Barnes and Noble to harangue any customers who walk by the book without buying it? Will they write to various newspapers asking, "Why haven't you reviewed my book yet?" then write again if the book gets a bad review? Will they reload their book's Amazon page every three minutes to see if the sales ranking has changed? I shudder to think. If you're this catty before you really get into the publishing world, how catty would you be if you actually got in?

michaelgav said...

One of the ways I try talking myself through the submission process is to remember the difference between refusal and rejection.

"I'm stopping by the grocery store on my way home... You need something?"

"Nah, I'm good. Thanks."

(Oh, my God, I can't believe she rejected me like that...)

"This is the best pizza I've had in a long time. Wanna bite?"

"Not hungry just now. Thanks."

(What's wrong with me? Why doesn't she like me?)

We deal with refusal a hundred times a week without obsessing, and without taking it personally. These agents are simply declining to invest a chunk of their business week to reading something they don't think they can make money on, which is exactly the thinking process I want people to follow in my office.

Now, if I could only get myself to remember this . . .

Miss Snark said...

No hugging.
Miss Snark takes the IRT; that's contact enough for anyone.

Anonymous said...

Bah, the difference is agents are getting other people's work rejected by editors, not their own. Clearly, there is a big difference in how that should make them feel. To say "I get rejected too" is silly.

Anonymous said...

No hugging for Miss Snark? Does that apply to George C. as well? Actually, I guess one could skip the preliminaries...

CC said...

Actually, michaelgav, I think it's closer to a potential employer not hiring you, whether after an interview or just seeing an application. Anyone can say no to food or fun; but writers submitting their manuscripts to agents or editors are seeking an occupation.

And I was laughing too, up to the point I saw it was a real letter. I agree with maria; it is personal. The thing to do though is to keep that "personal" feelings out of the "professional" sphere of submitting and correspondence.

Beth said...

One of the ways I try talking myself through the submission process is to remember the difference between refusal and rejection.

Sonarbabe said...

Nobody likes hearing the word, "no." It's programmed into our head since we were small children.

"Mommy? May I have an ice cream?"

"No, honey. Not tonight."

"Daddy, may I have a pony?"

"No, sweetheart. Daddy doesn't have a big enough yard for a pony."

Does this mean that Mommy and Daddy don't like us or don't love us? Of course not. It just means we weren't going to get our way.

In a roundabout sense, rejections from agents/editors are the same thing. It isn't that they don't like us, we're just not getting our way. And for all we know, it's for our own good they told us "no." My first novel I tried querying to was atrocious in both style and grammar. (Plot was decent, but not great) So, though it hurt to have the agents tell me "no" and I admit, I whimpered over 7 rejections in 1 day, it was for the best.

Basically, we have to put our big girl/boy pants on and keep going.

Sonya said...

Aw, Miss Snark, not even a little teensy, tiny, itty-bitty smoosh?

Okay, okay! Put the stiletto down. I'm sorry. This is me backing away...

ordinary woman said...

Ah...catharsis. What a lovely way to tackle that pesky little task of getting over yourself.

Well, Ms. Anonymous Jaded Writer, you're funny. Thanks for the laugh.

kimstagsays said...

When your child is hit by a car? Personal. When you Mom dies of breast cancer? Personal. When you baby is born with a her organs outside her belly? Personal. When you 18 year old is gunned down at college? Guess what I call it? When your book is refused, rejected, kicked to the curb, kiboshed, shitcanned, sent packing by an agent? Not so personal to me. And I wrote my book completely from my gut because of my own kids. Maybe there's something totally wrong with me, but I just don't get the anger/angst of rejection and believe me, I had quite a few. Indeed.

Anonymous said...

I am the one who sent it to her and I have to say that it was utterly, completely sent as a joke. I thought she might have actually been amused by it and only had the intentions of making her laugh.

Well, that backfired.

Oh well...

And yes, I wrote it after I recieved a reject letter from Glimmer Train, as a way to channel all of the WEll...I KNEW THAT WAS COMING ANGER...ANd I laughed the entire time I wrote it. As Laughter is the best way to relieve any kind of anger or stress.

But, there are no original ideas anymore eh?

And rejection is a fact of life... I have accepted it over and over again... And still continue to look for those letters in the mail. In the meantime, I continue to learn from my mistakes!

Dave Kuzminski said...

Quite possibly, I enjoy the fame of having received the most rejections in a single day. About ten year ago, I believe I received 17 rejections on short stories and novels all on the same day.

Of course, I had about 96 different submissions out there at one time. Oh, the power a good database gives you. :)

Kim said...

I think I'll go print up a form letter to send back -

just kidding. I don't take it personally anymore. I'm used to it. It sucks. I swear. The letter goes in a shoebox so that when I am a famous, famous, famous person, I will have a good chuckle.

OK - I made that famous part up, but I do hold on to them. I don't know why though...

Anonymous said...

To "I am the one who sent it..." Thanks for making my day. I liked your letter. It was worth the smile it gave me. :-) Very cute!

Anonymous said...

Agents are the gate keepers. They make us laugh or cry, not because we are too sensitive but because they have the power to let us in or keep us out. On top of that, based on all known data, the gate keepers don't know how to pick what readers will buy from new names. Big advances are paid to writers who sell a couple thousand, and no advances paid for monster hits. We do recover and slog on because we must, while we laugh at letters posted by Ms. Snark, one gatekeeper who gets it. gjb

Stephen Parrish said...

Sorry Dave Kuzminski, but I've received more rejections in one day than you have. I attended a Miss America contest and was allowed to go backstage. Do the math.

Hoolie said...

Hey anon who sent the letter: I'm with Janny. (Less the hug thing, about which I agree with Miss Snark and the IRT). I thought it was amply clear that it was a joke, and a funny one at that. Don't count it as one of your mistakes! You gave a few of us a chuckle, and frankly that seems good enough to me.

Dave Kuzminski said...

stephen, I don't think that counts since they're not allowed to date at that time, if I'm not mistaken.

Ozal said...

I have to disagree with Maria, and others who agree with her - I'm sure there are many out there.

"When you create something that comes from your heart or intellect or values, and it's not accepted, it's personal. No, you don't know the author, but it's still personal."

The point is, they aren't rejecting your intellect or your values. They're making a business decision that this piece of writing isn't the best available investment of their limited time.

Of course it hurts. That doesn't mean it's personal.

I crumble completely (or chuck a screaming fit of denial) at criticism of myself. Criticism of my writing is entirely different. I don't know how people survive this industry if they take rejection or criticism of their writing personally.

PS Thanks to the author of the letter. I assumed all the way thru that it was a joke, and I guess most readers did the same.

David L. McAfee said...

I thought it was pretty clear the writer was only kidding. "not that I am jaded, just wanting to vent and had a great time writing this."

Seems like she has a sense of humor about herself. I like that.

Now, for those frustrated writers who actually SEND letters like this to agents...sheesh.