Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Sound of A Lone Agent Clapping in the Woods

It's a first, ladies and germs: We've got ourself an agent response to a post on LROD from December 10th, entitled "Jeff Kleinman's No Criticism Rejection." I really liked the Super Woman imagery that went with this post, so I'm happy to revive it with this link. Anyway, here's what Mr. Kleinman has to say for himself:

"Well, guys, I may as well give my two-cents here. (This is Jeff Kleinman, and it totally weirds me out that this would be in someone's blog, but never mind all that for the moment.)

1. I'm flattered and impressed that you think I'm writing "jaunty agent lingo" - it's the way I talk, so I guess I must talk the same lingo. It was actually *meant*, though.

2. The comment: "It makes you want to shout at this dude: "So just publish the damn thing ..." It's NOT my job to PUBLISH books. I'm an agent - I represent books, and send them to editors whom I think will fall in love with them, and those editors publish those books. There's a HUGE distinction here, and if you don't see that, then you need to do some more homework. There are a million reasons why I personally wouldn't want to represent a book, but could easily imagine other people representing it - as is the case here.

3. Women's Fiction is a distinct category in the publishing world. Laney does more of it than I do. I'll let all of you figure out the definition to women's fiction, but it's just wrong to say that because most women buy books, all books are women's fiction.

4. As to what does "land" on and stick to my desk? Not a lot. Fiction's tough, and I don't like to take it on unless I literally go crazy reading it. It's hard to find books that send me over the moon. You need to keep in mind that it's just not my job to find a home for every writer's work - or every 100 writers. My job is to take on books that I absolutely love, and want to sell, and sell them. And then work with the author on how to market them, and how to build the author's career. I could end up taking on 1 book a year, or 100; it's not a numbers game, though.

4. As for the form reject that reads like a personal critique - you're right, I did use that - because I got so sick of saying the same thing, again and again, to most of the writers whose manuscripts I read. So, instead, having gotten slammed somewhere else for using standardized language, I went for the real personal approach, as in the example cited here: A) I really liked it and it's not for me; and B) here's a REFERRAL to my colleague, whom I hope will like it even more. (Jeez, that sounds pretty nice to me - hardly a reason to be lambasted here.) But to answer the poster's question - the reason I used personalized rejections is because it was vastly easier than trying to say the same thing in a different way 10 or 20 times a day - when I could be out reading or working for my clients, and earning a living doing so.

5. I don't represent only men; I'm not even going to bother trying to answer this one. I represent books. I sometimes represent books that primarily appeal to women (and which would fall under the category of "women's fiction"); I sometimes represent books that don't.

Hope this helps.

All best,

Jeff Kleinman

Folio Literary Management, LLC"

Don't take us personally, Jeff. We are just a bunch of Bitter Bobs, who can't catch a publishing break no matter what we do, and we think your business is a sinking ship, which makes us depressed and then we lash out, which is why most of your colleagues don't really bother with us. (Actually, I don't think we really lambasted this dude, did we? We certainly didn't acuse him of publishing only men.)

Anyway, my friends, perhaps you have something more to say to Mr. K. since he bothered to drop by and defend himself?


Anonymous said...

Aw, I feel bad now. We really did jump all over him. He's just workin' for a livin'.

Anonymous said...

1,2,3,4,4,5. Jeff probably scored high on verbal and low on I did....and everyone else in publishing.

CresceNet said...

Gostei muito desse post e seu blog é muito interessante, vou passar por aqui sempre =) Depois dá uma passada lá no meu site, que é sobre o CresceNet, espero que goste. O endereço dele é . Um abraço.

Clutter Chonny said...

I wouldn't take it personally, Jeff. This is just a place to vent and you have fallen prey. I think your letter was rather uplifting (in light of its being one of rejection) and even a bit enthusiastic. Keep on keeping on!

A Writer said...

For what it's worth, Kleinman has the reputation of being a pretty good guy and certainly a good agent. Not that that changes anything regarding rejections generally, y'understand...just that this guy doesn't really take the delight in issuing them that others might. In fact, I nominate him for the 2008 G.A.K., although I'm sure he's no Rosemary Ahern.


Anonymous said...

Jeff sounds really nice. Perhaps he'll stop being an agent soon and move into editing/publishing? That'd be cool.

Anonymous said...

So agent Jeff passes on the manuscript to another agent - two reads for the price of one - and you tear him a new one. Sour meet Grapes! I thought the letter was kind. Then again, after 169 rejection letters even kindly worded ones probably read like YOU ARE A LOSER, KISS MY ASS.

The Quoibler said...

I like Jeff.

Anyone who takes the time to get in touch with LROD without seeming full of himself or too affronted by our bitterness can't be all bad.

I second the 2008 GAK award nomination.

[chanting: Jeff, Jeff, Jeff, Jeff!]


P.S. I got that weird spam from Crescenet, too. Translate it from Portugese into English in one of the free translation software engines. It's a hoot! - Q-berta

Anonymous said...

What is this. The author smells like a bitterly unsuccessful hack who cannot write anything but literary vomit. That's why he's collecting so many rejection letters. Have fun wallowing in failure and stupor.

Anonymous said...

I went back and read Jeff's rejection letter, and can't believe the person who received it couldn't see the genuineness in what was written. Jeff goes the extra mile by writing a personal rejection note after passing the author's work on to his colleague, and the author sends the letter to this blog knowing you'll tear it apart for sport? Let's just say it isn't Jeff I feel sorry for.

Writer, Rejected said...

Oooh, Anonymice #1, "Literary Vomit!" I love that. In fact, that's going to be the name of my NEXT blog. So, thank you. And thanks for the well-wishing. In fact, wallowing in failure in stupor is apparently what we do best.

As for you, Anonymice #2 (same mouse?), we hearby elect you our emissary to the publishing world. You go and make all who reject feel like the big good generous nobel people that they are. Make them all feel better for us, okay? We'll wait here.

Writer, Rejected said...


An Entirely Different Anonymous said...

Why even responding? Anonymous is probably just Jeff's mother. You really know how to get people mad at you, WR.


Bobby said...

The problem is that Jeff's trying to be nice and likable--and good for him--but the rejection isn't about him, is it?

What he's really done is use the rejection to serve his own ego (i.e. "What a great person I am to give an aspiring writer an 'almost.'")

Then he goes on this blog to defend himself. Notice a trend? Jeff must be liked. A more honest rejection would state the facts without all the puffy language. Can you imagine a doctor giving you this kind of response after a surgery that killed your loved one? "We almost saved your husband...his heart even began beating again for a second, but alas...."