Friday, July 15, 2011

Dealing with Rejection Letters. Is it you or is it them?


I’ve already talked about the do’s and don’ts of querying. See: http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/2011/04/query-letters.html

Sometimes the reason why you were rejected has NOTHING to do with your book so you shouldn’t take it personally.

Below are some real agents. (Names obviously changed.) And some real rejection letters (names also changed)

You can be doing everything right as an author and still get a rejection. Take a look. This is enlightening.


Agent: Mrs. Peacock

Experience: 12 years

Location: NY, New York

Represents:

FICTION


Commercial Fiction
Crime/Detective/Police
Fantasy
Mystery
Romance
Science Fiction
Thrillers/Suspense

NON-FICTION


Biography & Memoirs
Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film & Entertainment
History & Military
Religion & Spirituality
Science & Technology
Self-Help

Yesterday I found out my husband has colon cancer. I couldn’t sleep last night. I don’t have insurance and I don’t know how we are going to afford treatment.

My husband and were high school sweet hearts. We have four adult children and seven grand-children. We haven’t told our family about the cancer, we're debating whether we should.

I just picked up a new author and wish I hadn't. They call almost everyday asking if I've sold their manuscript. I’m tempted just to sell the thing to anyone at a give away price then not renew their contract for their next book.

I’m not going to be taking on very many new clients if any. I need to spend more time with my husband since I don’t know how much longer he’ll be around.




Agent: Professor Plum

Experience: 23 years

Location: NY, New York

Represents:

FICTION


none

NON-FICTION


Biography & Memoirs
Business & Finance
Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film & Entertainment
Current Affairs & Politics
History & Military
Medical, Health & Fitness
Self-Help
Sports

Submission guidelines: Online Form

If something comes through my mail I recycle it. I don’t even look to see if it has a SASE. It’s a waste of two stamps if you mail something to me. All queries in my email inbox get deleted. There is a reason why I have an online form. My online form program has filters so I can look up key words such as “previously published” “referred by” “Memoirs” and “POW survivor”

I don’t even take fiction and the online form is a great way I can easily filter out all the “badies”.

I just got back from a lunch with and editor from one of the big five publishers. She is looking for a book about over coming addiction.

Time to enter “addiction” and “recovery” in my query letter data base and see if anything good comes up.

Note: Your query will only stay on file for an allotted time. Usually 6-8 weeks.


Agent: Cornel Mustard

Experience: 37 years as an agent

Education: MA in English Literature from University of Michigan

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Represents:

FICTION


Mystery
Thrillers/Suspense

NON-FICTION


Biography & Memoirs
Business & Finance
Cookbooks
History & Military
Medical, Health & Fitness
Multicultural
Science & Technology
Sports

Submission Guidelines: Snail mail ONLY

Why in the world do people keep sending me these silly romance books? Just because an author puts “regency” “paranormal” “historical” or “sweet” in front of “romance” doesn’t mean that I’m going suddenly start taking romance.

I can always tell if it’s going to be a romance query before I even open the envelope. It’s covered in hearts and smells like perfume. It’s as insulting as an author who puts a one cent stamp on their SASE.

I’m considering only picking up clients I meet in person at conferences and live pitches. They tend to be more serious and I’d be less likely to pick up a crazy.



Agent: Miss Scarlet

Experience: 3 years

Education: BA in literature from UCLA

Location: San Diego, California

Represents:

FICTION


Action/Adventure
Chick Lit

Children’s
Commercial Fiction
Crime/Detective/Police
Fantasy
General Fiction
Graphic Novels
Humor/Satire
Literary Fiction
Military/Espionage
Multicultural
Mystery
Offbeat/Quirky
Science Fiction
Thrillers/Suspense
Women's Fiction
Young Adult

NON-FICTION


Biography & Memoirs
Business & Finance
Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film & Entertainment
Cookbooks
Cultural/Social Issues
Current Affairs & Politics
Food & Lifestyle
History & Military
Humor & Gift Books
Journalism
Medical, Health & Fitness
Multicultural
Narrative
Pets
Reference
Science & Technology
Sports
Travel
True Adventure & True Crime
Women's Issues

I just broke away from a major agency and started my own agency. Its time to start filling up that client list.

My goal is to sign thirty new authors this year. Hopefully I will find some good ones that will keep producing books. Whahoo! Look out New York! Here I come!



Agent: Mrs. White

Experience: 14 years as a literary agent, former acquisitions editor for Simon and Schuster.

Education: Law degree from University of Columbia

Location: NY, New York

Represents:

FICTION


Family Saga
Mystery
Romance
Thrillers/Suspense
Women's Fiction
Young Adult

NON-FICTION


Business & Finance
Celebrity, Pop Culture, Music, Film & Entertainment
Cookbooks
History & Military
Humor & Gift Books
Parenting

I only take clients who have had previous publishing experience. I carry a larger client list so I need authors who can write a great book the first time. I don’t have time to babysit them or edit their manuscripts over and over. I want them to produce. I’ll do a quick read through then sell those MS's. If a client wants to have a good relationship with me the best thing they can do is make me lots of money.


Agent: Mr. Green

Experience: 6 years

Education: BA English Lit

Location: Washington State

Represents:

FICTION


Humor/Satire
Literary Fiction
Offbeat/Quirky

NON-FICTION


Art & Photography
Biography & Memoirs
Humor & Gift Books
Narrative

Just because my first name is Jamie doesn’t mean that I’m a woman. I can tell which authors haven’t done their research. Their query letters are addressed “Dear Ms. Jamie Green”. Give me a break. Speaking of break, yesterday I had a little accident while walking down the bleachers at my son’s little league game. I’m not going to be in the office until this blasted cast comes off. My intern is going to be handling all queries and she’s a lot tougher critic than I am, so good luck.


Real rejection letters:

Dear Joe,

Thanks for thinking of me. I would like to take a raincheck on your offer. My husband has lung cancer and is currently undergoing treatment, so I am not currently taking on new projects. I suggest that you contact me in about 6 months and we'll see how things are going at that point.

all best,

Jane


Dear Joe,

Jane asked me to get back to you and thank you for getting in touch, but unfortunately this isn't a good time for her because she is working from home with a broken ankle. Best of luck.

All best,
Bob


Dear Joe:

We are swamped beyond belief right now and i cannot take on even one more assignment.

Jane


Dear Joe -

Thanks for thinking of me. I'm afraid, however, that I'm about to go on maternity leave. If you'd like to be in touch again in a few months, I'd be happy to speak with you further.

Cheers,
Jane




Enlightening. HMMMM. Maybe agents are real people too. ;-)








17 comments:

  1. Now if only that degree of info was available on the agents' websites. It'd make our lives easier. ;)

    Great post!

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  2. Oh I love this. And I do think it is very, very true. There is always other stuff in the mix with query letters. Nice post, D.

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  3. Very scary. Great post, thank you Deirdra.

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  4. Amazing post and proof that writers should not take rejection personally. I never have and I think that alone is what enabled me to push on until I found the right match! :)

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  5. Awesome post, thanks for sharing.

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  6. How enlightening. Deirdra, thanks for sharing this with us!



    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥
    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance, Darkspell coming fall of 2011!
    Pre-order your copy now!

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  7. Enlightening, indeed. Thanks for some chuckles this morning.

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  8. Wow. Confirms what we should have known already, both the tragic and the petty.

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  9. Loved it! good reminder that agents are people too, with priorities, needs, and agendas.

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  10. Haahaa, I am probably querying them.

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  11. I could forgive some of them, but the others...?

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  13. My novel about breast cancer and medical fraud was rejected by an agent who told me that the "concept was just too hard for her to take on". I assume that her mother or sister or a dear friend had breast cancer and it was just too emotional an issue for her. I get that. But perhaps she could have referred me to someone else in her agency...?

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  14. This was a really great post, and you're right. Very enlightening. We tend to think that agents are machines searching for us.

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  15. Loved reading your post. Lots of insight!

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  16. Excellent post. Thank you for opening my eyes a little more to the human side of publishing!

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