Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More talk about Agents

I have to say something about Literary agents.
God Bless them.
Although they say writer's need to have thick skins, I now see the same is true for agents. I've been wandering around the blogs of several agents who post about the business. They also post about how writer's respond to their rejections. The bitter nonsense some writers take the time to send to an agent who rejected them is AMAZING! The only thing I can't figure out is why would a writer do that???
Do they only intend to write this one book and think they will never-maybe-someday need this agent? Her good will or professional advice? Does the writer think that agents don't talk shop when they get together? Wouldn't it be better to give a quick and polite "Thank you, maybe next time". I've met a few agents here and there and everyone was happy to share their insight into the business. I'm sure there are nasty ones, but perhaps when you find one in a bad mood there's a reason for it. Aside from the regular family/work/life problems they come to work, where they are hoping to find the next great novelist and they walk into a nastygram from a rejected writer. Then think of the writer. Imagine how long it took to craft that letter and think how much more productive that time could have been in writing your next book instead of lashing out against someone you might someday want for a friend. No win situation. You've pissed off a perfectly good business contact and probably spoiled someone's day. Think back to mom's advice, "If you can't say something nice...blah, blah, blah."
Either way, God bless the agents who have to face this nonsense.
For writers: Put those rejections in a pile in the corner and remember they are just notches in your writer's belt. Everyone has them and someday you'll be speaking at a writer's conference talking about them like they were distant history. A lot of the greatest writers on the planet have piles of rejections and the message they send is never, never, never give up.
Your question: Have you ever responded to a rejection letter? If so, what did you say?

1 comment:

Danika / OpenChannel said...

Who was it that said it's not a rejection if you never had it in the first place? :-)

I queried 33 agents before I found mine, who I absolutely adore. I always say that makes for a much better story than "I got the first agent I sent my mss to."

All of the agents wrote simple, polite "no thank you" letters, some were more "form-like" but many were personal. Some asked for more information and we started a dialogue. At no point did I rant and rave and tell them they were idiots for not taking me on. That would be silly.

I think people forget just how many submissions agents get each week, that they have a limited amount of writers they can roster, and that they are in the business of financially supporting themselves. If they don't think they can sell the work, why would you WANT them to be your agent?

BTW - I have a new Weekend Writing Workout up.