Friday, May 16, 2008

Running With Crazy

So I read a partial a few days ago. It was advertised as urban fantasy, but "not necessarily dark with excessive violence, rather playfully suspenseful with a tongue-in-cheek, satirical approach."
I thought it was cheesy, but I wrote an extremely kind rejection letter, telling her that it needed to be "darker to be a fit for my tastes." I do think there is a market for playfully suspenseful, but there has to be enough bite to keep readers interested, and I didn't think this partial had it. I went out of my way to emphasize that this was my own opinion.

I received a rude email in response, telling me that I clearly did not read her query letter. Offended, I told the author that this was my subjective opinion and that she should not take it personally. She wrote again, telling me to grow up.

This is the type of crazy that makes agents wary about email queries.


Ryan Field said...

It's a shame that some writers don't take the rejection with a smile and move on to something else...or someone else. Because you never know when, or if, you're going to want to query an agent again with a completely different project. Building a career as a writer involves a lot of things, and one of them is thinking about the future.

calendula-witch said...

Gah! Sorry that this happened. Really, most of us are trying very hard to be decent, even in the face of lots and lots of's a tough game all around. I try to practice the Zen of Do Not Send A Response At Once. The emotions, they do settle.

Dwight Wannabe said...

On one hand:

moving back to snailmail would reduce the number of crazy missives.

On the other hand:

moving back to snailmail would bring in only the craziness with a sticker price greater than 42 cents.

So, that way, you'd only get the "quality crazy."

Julie Weathers said...

Here's my "for what it's worth" take on it.

Apparently not many agents respond to queries now if they aren't interested. When I went through this process before, I "graded" each response. Some moved to a keeper status if I had a different project in the future. Some moved to a "never again" column.

If an agent takes the time to respond and they are courteous enough to comment or be polite, that person should be delighted. I'm irritated when I hear of people doing this as it just taints the waters.

Makes me want to send out thank you notes to agents just for putting up with morons. That would just clog their e-mail futher, though, and most likely get me added to an ignore list.

Anonymous said...

It's people like that who make agents reluctant to give specific feedback. That just ruins it for the rest of us. I'd love to get more specific feedback. I completely understand the logistical need for form rejection letters, but it can get frustrating.

Adaora A. said...

Aww Mr. Lyons, sometimes crazy people can't be helped. You should run from the crazy. They're' lucky to have recieved such a kind and very helpful e-jection. You would have been justified in saying "No thanks," and leaving it at that. But you went out of your way and gave him or her the chance to sharpen their book and make it better thanks to you. Can't believe how juvenille people can be. I think their thick writer's skin was ruined by sun burn.

Anonymous said...

You know, dealing with a few crazy people is part of any job that is open to the public. It's interesting to hear about but unless one is in the child care industry should not have a profound influence on how a business is run. As writers, we come across the loons all the time. Usually in the day job, but sometimes crazy lives in all the little rules too.

Josephine Damian said...

Now if you really, want to see crazy, join MySpace.

Dwight, I'm with you on the snail mail.

Agent Jonathan: Exactly how "dark" do you like your thrillers? If you could mention some titles you enjoyed and wished you'd represented, it would be a big help.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Well ... I hate rejections. But I would never have been published if it hadn't been for a few.

I owe a lot to a hand-written rejection from Rachael Vater. And I owe as much for a brief but to the point letter from a Harlequin editor. A rejection from Baen kept me going. Odd, huh?

Rejection letters do not always reflect on one's writing ability. But they do reflect an educated judgment on marketability.

One of my favorite rejections came from an agent who wrote, "We were intrigued by your story and its premise. We think it is just too hard to sell."

This came six months after my book was published, and 18 months after I querried. She and her assistant or whomever the "we" was must have had a hard time making u their mind.

I've only had one "bad" rejection from an agent. It WAS mean, and nasty, and not well meant. She also posted about it on her blog, but misrepresented the content of the query.

There IS another side to query letter responses. However, replying with the same spirit that you may detect in the rejection brings you no lasting benefit.

Anonymous said...

Having received one of your partial rejections, I can confirm it was indeed a kind, encouraging, and polite letter. It may have disappointed me but it certainly didn't contain anything that hurt my feelings or made me mad.

Julie Weathers said...

A rejection from Baen kept me going. Odd, huh?~

*Sigh* I've had my eye on them a long time, but a year to hear back and they prefer exclusive just isn't possible for me.

I'm old. I need to get this one yea or nayed so the other umpteen characters, waiting to tell me their stories will leave me alone.

Aside from that, I really just prefer to get an agent and let them do the agent thing. I detest horse trading and I am one.

Eleni said...

For one, how unprofessional, and secondly, how rude! Is professionalism and courtesy too much to ask for? *sigh*

Aimless Writer said...

Oh no! I hate when writers do that! Please know there are lots of writers who would love to hear your personal take on our work. Please don't stop giving out those comments. Some of us would love to hear the good or the bad.
One agent told me my execution needed work along with some other comments. I read and reread her words, printed out the email and hung it above my desk so I would not forget the words of an expert on my work. I took it to my writers group to ask what they thought she meant by each comment.(I'm now rewriting)
The writer should take your words to heart and take a good long look at her work from a more objective view. She's missing an opportunity here.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Julie,

It did not take them a year to reply. I heard back in three months. Along with the simple "no" the reply contained their readers comments:

"Excellent read, very entertaining and a lot of fun....But not really Baen material."

Nothing in the world would change that to a "yes." But this rejection told me that {a} I can tell an entertaining story, that (b) is "a lot of fun" to read, so much fun that (c) it was "excellent."

I'd sumbit to them again, if I had a story that fit what they publish. This was nice, even if it was a "no."

John C. said...

Many writers seem to be of the opinion that agents are heartless tyrants. The simple fact you responded to an insulting email shows otherwise.

Really, you shouldn't bother to reply to those people. Here on the intarweb, it's what we call "feeding the troll".

I appreciate agents who accept email queries and respond. Please don't let a few trolls ruin it.

Jael said...

Aw. It saddens me to see a perfectly lovely bridge go up in flames like this.

Why DO people snit at someone who's in a position to help them? I really don't get it. My guess is these must be those authors we hear about who think all they'll have to do is send one letter to one agent and poof! publishing happens. And anyone who doesn't see their genius is a moron.

Anyway, keep up the good work.

Julie Weathers said...


Interesting. I thought I read on their site they take a year. While I do think they're a good match for my work, I'm going the agent route anyway.

Years ago, I received several very nice rejections and it does make a difference.

I received a few that were, shall we say, brusque. Looking back on that work now, I am amazed anyone responded to me with anything other than a warning to back away from the keyboard before someone got hurt.

Gotta love the agents who keep plugging away at it, but, my stars, I wouldn't want that job.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Julie,

Some agents are gems. Janet Reid tops my list. There are others. I have an abiding dislike for the one mentioned in my first post. Oh, I'm sure she's talented. Fine. Doesn't make up for being [insert unkind phrase here]. There is no excuse for being cruel ... or for ummm misrepresenting someone else for the sake of a blog rant.

Heck, it made me go around my house muttering, "When I'm a rich and famous author, I'll show her!" Two oreos and a glass of milk finally cured the muttering.

One of these days I'll have to write an old fashioned hard-boiled detetive novel just so I can submit something to Janet. Ummm but knowing me, it will have pixies and goats as main characters. I'll call it The Great Goat Detective.

A preference for an exclusive doens't mean you have to give them one. You can't be rejected by Baen if you don't submit. ... But then, they can't say "yes" either. Just send it to them.

Sarah said...

I have a question about e-queries and e-replies: is there any reason that an agent or agency couldn't set up a do-not-reply account to send their kind rejections? It seems to be a solution to alleviate the suffering of both parties, but there might be something I'm not thinking of.