Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Grinberg and Bear It


Here is an example of gracious rejecting in action. The agent Jill Grinberg rejected my short story collection and novel with using a kind, yet fairly standard love metaphor: "I've now finally had a chance to finish reading your work. While I'm very pleased to have had the opportunity to consider your manuscripts--it was a pleasure to read them--I'm afraid in my heart of hearts I just didn't fall enough in love with the material to feel comfortable offering representation." Note that she didn't feel compelled to tell me all that was wrong with my work or offer perfunctory criticism to get me off her back. Just a gentle no was all that was necessary.

Somehow I hadn't managed to include an SASE, but did Jill Grinberg yell at me, or fob me meanly off to her assistant so as to imply that I was taking up too much time? Did anyone treat me as if I were a big needy freak and get all weird when I wanted to stop by and pick up my manuscripts? No. Jill Grinberg was very, very nice. She wrote: "I know you mentioned wanting to pick up the manuscripts in your email. I will give them to my assistant Kirsten Wolf to hold for you." When I was trying to figure out logistics because I was out of town at a writer's colony (i.e., should I have a friend pick up the manuscripts? Should I send postage to have them sent back?), the comforting assistant wrote: "Whichever [way] is easier for you--I'm more than happy to put them in the mail if you would like to provide postage. Let me know--I have the manuscripts here waiting for your decision either way." They are living proof that agents can and do act like decent human beings from time to time, offering up a little dignity to the already humiliated party. A class act, I'd say.

I ended up sending a check, and my manuscripts were sent safely back.

9 comments:

Good copy said...

I think this site is a riot, despite the fact that it is at your expense. It is good that you have a great sense of humor. Do you only write short stories? Just wondering. I am a literary agent and it seems extremely difficult right now to sell short story collections, even though there are some really wonderful ones out there. But the big publishers have to make room for such literary gems as "Why Men Have Nipples."

Writer, Rejected said...

I'm writing a novel, too. It does happen to include nipples, though. What a weird coincidence!

Liz said...

Hello. I think you're very brave. That is, I do hope it's courage that makes you maintain this blog and not a deep-seated need to self-destruct. :) I write, too, but I hesitate to call myself a writer because, apart from school mags and such, I've never been published. I'm curious: when you were starting out, did you call yourself a writer?

Writer, Rejected said...

Hi Liz: I struggled with the question briefly in my youth, too. I wanted to be a writer, and then when I got over that business, I just wanted to write.

The first book kind of sealed the identity, I guess. After that, I didn't much worry about it. But here's a thing to consider: if you are a writer, you really won't ever be able to shake it, even when you are old and tired and jaded, and you wish you were a CPA instead.

So, my advice to you is just write and try not to think so much about whether or not you are a writer. It will be become astoundingly clear to you in no time. Good luck, little writing sister; may you find a good path.

good copy said...

Well then your novel will be a hit! Nipples are all the rage. I must say that taking a moment to respond to a serious writer in a more personal way is not that difficult. We do it here and often get thank you letters for our kind rejections.

Writer, Rejected said...

Good Copy: Will you send us an example of your agency's exemplary rejection letter? We can make it anonymous, if you'd like. If you're willing please send to writerrejected at aol.com.

good copy said...

I am gonna try.

Anonymous said...

What amused me was how the agent took the opportunity to mention the many European adventures freshly arrived from. "You're not up to my point of view, so enriched by the literary foyers of England and Italy! Kindly excuse me whilst I pour another glass of pale bubbly."

Anonymous said...

Good to know that there are human beings among agents.