Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Acknowledge and Move On

Dear Fellow Aspiring Writers;

Thanks for taking a break from the head-against-wall banging to visit. As someone in the same unpublished boat, I can completely understand your frustration at trying to get your work out there. I've been at this for more than a few years, longer than some and not as long as others, but believe me when I say I get where you're coming from in regards to submitting and the responses received.

It's the responses to responses I'm going to address here. You know what I mean. Whether we get the Five Minute Rejection (Did you even read my email???), the Eight Month or More Wait That May Be a Good Thing But is Finally a Rejection, or the No Response Assume It's a Rejection Rejection, I beseech you, F.A.W., to not--let me repeat that--NOT respond to the editor or agent to whom you submitted.

It's very unprofessional and makes you look bad. Agents and editors are in the business of requesting books they think will sell. They understand you've put blood, sweat and tears into your baby, but so have a gazillion others. As frustrating as a form rejection is, as unhelpful as you may see it (I know what you're thinking: "If they'd only tell me WHY the story didn't work, I could fix it!" It's not that simple and most in the publishing business don't have time to explain why their gut says no.), this is the way the writing life usually works. Deal with it. Rant to your friends, your dog, your teddy bear, or what have you, but don't fire off an angry email or letter calling the agent/editor names or questioning his judgement or parentage. Just don't.

I'll admit, I've responded to the rejection on a full manuscript with a "thanks for the advice" note ONLY when the person I submitted to sent me a decently long letter telling my why she ultimately rejected it. I didn't rant about how she was wrong, or beg her to reconsider if I promised to revise to her liking. No. I merely said I appreciated the detail of her reasons and acknowledged that few in her position were kind enough to take the time to do so. I wasn't being a kiss-ass, I was sincere. Also, I figure if I ever want to resubmit another project at a later date, I'd rather be remembered as the writer who wrote a short note than the one who went off the deep end.

Why am I so passionate about this? No, not to put myself on the good side of agents and editors (it's not like gobs of them will be seeing this), but for my own selfish reasons. You see, I'm almost always in a state of waiting for a response on some project or another, and one agent has plainly stated that they will not respond to equeries (my preferred method these days) because of the number of negative responses they've gotten in the past. So, if you submit to this agent, they only respond if they are going to request a partial or full. I can't blame this person--no one wants to open their inbox to a bunch of whiny responses to rejections--but now I have to wonder if this agent is rejecting my work or merely taking a while to respond. And everyone KNOWS how WELL writers take waiting.

It's oh, so frustrating for those of us who are mature enough to take the blows, dust ourselves off and get back up and write, to have to suffer the consequences of a writer or two or a dozen who just can't take "no" for what it is. It's not personal, people, it's business. Acknowledge (in your own private, personal world, not to the rejecter) and move on to the next person on your submission list, or on to your next project. Threaten to quit. I think about doing just that when too many downs hit me all at once.

It's not an easy thing, this writer's life, and the rest of us would appreciate it if you didn't make it any harder.

Thanks. Now get back to work.



At 4:43 PM, Blogger Writer & Cat said...

Not only should ranty emails be avoided, but it's probably best not to rant on your blog or your site in specific or even unspecific terms, for various reasons....

Jody W.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

Good point, Jody! Thanks for bringing that up. Even if you think *no one* reads your blog or visits your site, most people would be amazed how word gets out and around.

Keep your rants to yourself, folks!

At 9:23 AM, Blogger Tracy Montoya said...

It's not just aspiring published writers. I know published authors who have actually walked up to an agent or editor who rejected them and said something along the lines of, "The book you rejected was just published. Neener, neener, neener!"

For one thing, no adult woman should ever use the phrase "Neener, neener, neener!" without copious amounts of sarcasm. For another, gross behavior burns bridges. And should that agent or editor ever be in a position to help you out (because we all know how they switch houses and switch from editing to agenting, etc.), they will remember. Guaranteed.

And finally, it's just basic civility to accept a decision gracefully.

Can you tell I am just baffled by this behavior?

At 1:22 PM, Blogger Cathy in AK said...

I'm as baffled as you are, Tracy. I guess these people honestly think they're helping themselves. Apparently no one explained to them the "flies and honey" or "if you have nothing nice to say" adages.


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