Friday, September 7, 2007

Rejection Skills Assessment

A reader named Cattle Call posted this searing comment in response to Editor, Advising's rant (see Glutton for Punishment for original exchange):

Cattle Call said...
"I don't expect a carefully worded, exquisitely written rejection letter that strokes my ego. I simply expect a rejection as professional as the original query. Period. Writers know that a query is really the literary equivalent of the cattle call audition for actors. If you can't put up with rejection, you shouldn't be auditioning. But what some agents don't seem to realize is that their rejection skills - or lack thereof - speak volumes about the way they conduct their business. If I do my job by sending a professional query, I'm entitled to a professional response. In other words, a clean piece of paper. A date. A simple "thank you, does not meet our needs, good luck elsewhere." A signature (a squiggle is fine, you can do it while you talk to important people on the phone; that's what my boss used to do). And please: Spare me the compliments unless they're followed by an invitation to submit. If I didn't think my work was good, I wouldn't be sending it in the first place. As for the vast swampland on your desk...if you'll clean my house while I write, maybe I'll read through the queries for you. Sound fair?"

I imagine we will be hearing from our old friend Editor, Advising on this one.




10 comments:

Langostino said...

Right on! Thank you, CC. Couldn't've said it better myself.

Cattle Call said...

Thanks for posting, WR. The funny part of the story is that I had barely finished zipping off my message when I received a very fine rejection letter from Jill Grinberg. It meets all my specs, and then some: real letterhead (so thick, as a matter of fact, I wondered if someone hadn't stuffed several rejections into the same envelope); dated; and adressed to me personally. It reads: "Dear...Thanks so much for sending me sample pages from....., which I have now had a chance to read. I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to see your sub,ission, but I'm afraid that I was not drawn into it to the extent I would need to be to offer my representation. You want and deserve an agent who is no less than passionate about your work; and as I am not able to bring the necessary passion to the table, it's best I step aside as you pursue the right agent and publisher. Best wishes, Jill Grinberg"

Granted, I would have settled for a less-than-passionate relationship; I hear arranged marriages work out very well sometimes. But let's not quibble. I asked for a professional response and got one. So thank you, Dear Universe.

And now, for your next trick: please send me a thick envelope containing a letter on quality paper that reads: "Enclosed please find a contract for representation of your excellent work"...

Anyway, thanks again for posting, WR and - as they say - Cheers and All Best.

the individual voice said...

Big mistake, imagining Editor, Advising commenting. Now he/she/it is obligated to make a statement by NOT commenting.

Writer, Rejected said...

TIV: You're probably right. My mistake, there.

the individual voice said...

The good news for you is that tomorrow's Sunday NY Times Book Review online has an essay written precisely for your blog called "No Thanks, Mr. Nabokov."

Lobsterisimo said...

Bring "passion to the table"? I am getting so sick of the bullshit language in this industry. Granted the letter had a humane tone about it. But the whole thing is just so demeaning isn't it? Know who might have a better job than a writer? That lady in Streetcar Named Desire who sells flowers outside the freaking cemetery. Flores. Flores para los fucking muertos.

I've had it with writing.

Cattle Call said...

"I've had it with writing."

Know the feeling well, lobsterisimo. The question is: has writing had it with you? Probably not, or you wouldn't be reading this blog. Tennessee Williams also talked about the kindness of strangers, remember? So as one stranger to another I suggest this: Write about the flower lady, and why she matters to you. Best.

langostino bitters said...

"Thanks." /Sniff//Hands you tiny yellow flower/

"I've always depended on the kindness of you, indeed. It's been a particularly bad week and to top it off I am nursing an unrequited, impossible crush. I feel like shit and like flinging it at the world. But thanks."

Writer, Rejected said...

We're with you Lobsty: in love and literature. Just hang in. That crush will pass. Those intense feelings will pass. And then, as life's little bonus, you get to write a short story about it!

Lobster Face said...

Thanks :o) Feeling a teeny bit better. Still mostly bitter, and still crushing, but it will pass, as you say.