Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hollywood Writes Some Books

You knew it had to happen. All those poor out of work Hollywood writers with nothing to do. Why wouldn't they start thinking, F-it! I'll just write a book? Marc Weingarten penned a piece about this predictable phenomenon in The L.A. Times entiteld Hollywood Writers Turn to Plan B: The Novel, interviewing such fancy agents as William Morris's Jennifer Rudolph Walsh and Paradigm's Lydia Wills. My favorite quote is from screenwriter Mark Haskell Smith, who says: "I had an idea for a movie. I thought rather than hear an executive tell me that the writing was good but the story was too dark, I would just write a book instead. I didn't want another rejected script." The thing that's really depressing is that he probably will breeze right in and get himself a book contract.

Agent Rachelle Gardner Rants & Raves Here

We've got another live one, folks. A responding agent, who was sorry that I found one of her comments annoying. Here's what she said: "For the record... not that anybody cares...I don't want blockbuster bestsellers. I want good books. I love great books and great writing more than (almost) anything else in life. If only you could see my inbox everyday, you would know I'm telling the absolute truth that most queries get rejected because the writer isn't ready. A few people are brilliant right out of the box. Many more are brilliant on their fourth or fifth novel...or on the tenth or eleventh draft of their first novel. It takes work, practice, and persistence to get it right. But all too often, what shows up in my inbox is a first draft that no other human being on the planet has read. I'm telling the truth when I say the person just isn't ready. Sorry folks, but if you've never had a critique, never shared your work and gotten feedback, never even taken the time to go back and edit and correct obvious spelling errors and typos... well, whether or not you want to admit it, you're just not ready. And if that's not you, if you happen to be a writer who is submitting good work, then there's no reason to get your pants in a wad about what I said... because you're one of the ones who ARE ready. Seriously, I wish I understood this vitriol aimed at me. (Someboy explain it to me?) I write blog posts every single day with the sole intent of helping writers -- my favorite people in the world, by the way. Sorry if you find it annoying. I'm simply reflecting the truth of what I see." (Sadly my pants are always in a wad.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

To Reject or Not to Reject: That is the Contest

An odd web site called iwiLetter.com, whose logo and tagline are incomprehensible, is having some sort of rejection letter contest with an ipod as the prize. Here's what their contest page says:

Become the Shakespeare of Rejection Letters and Win a new iPod while you’re at it.
The Rejection Letter – being rejected just got fun. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a well written, eloquent (or not so eloquent) rejection letter available for you to share with the person of your liking (or not so liking)? iwiLetter.com (send real letters, write online) is sponsoring a rejection letter writing contest that provides the perfect opportunity for all of you modern day Shakespeares to gain the fame you deserve. All it takes is putting pen to paper or rather, fingers to the keyboard.

I don't know. I don't think that sounds like fun, but maybe it would be for those who do a lot of rejecting. I guess these guys are on the other side of our little rejection fence, but maybe you'll want to enter the contest anyway, in which case, I hope you'll share your work with us here at LROD. Good luck and kIwi-kIwi to you.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Author, Foodie, Rockstar

Despite all the skeptical anonymice on this blog, we are starting a book corner, in which newly published authors like Felicia Sulivan (who is also a prominent editor-type, so be nice all you purists) discusses her own persona victory in the publishing world. In Felicia's case, The Sky Isn't Visible from Here, is a memoir about her "volatile, beautiful, deceitful, drug-addicted mother, who disappeared on the night Sullivan graduated from college, and has not been seen or heard from in the ten years since." It promises to be a fascinating read; I've already got my copy on order, and so should you.

When did you start writing the book?
I started working on Sky in 2004, although I had been writing and reworking the first chapter, “Fighting Shoes,” since 2003.

What prompted your interest in it?
In some way or another, I’ve always written about my mother. When I was eight I published a haiku that likened my mother’s voice to thunder. She’s always been my subject – I can’t really recall a time in which my work hasn’t revolved around her – the one person I couldn’t, but desperately wanted to, understand. For years I was working on a novel of lifeless, unlikable characters that did mildly interesting things. I was writing a safe book because I was afraid to commit my memories, this horrific life lived, this very unsafe book, to paper. I was ashamed of my past, of living in poverty, of a mother who loved and terrorized me. I had lived a life of my own invention for so long, I couldn’t imagine otherwise. At one point the weight of these two lives – the accomplished, in-control professional and the frightened child who never really mourned the loss of her mother – were becoming difficult to bear. Something had to give. One afternoon a friend of mine and I were trading stories about our mothers and we realized that we had both been shamed into secrecy. We were made to feel shame by our mothers, our impoverished upbringing, and a culture where not loving your mother is unthinkable. And in 2004, I felt brave enough to start Sky.

How long did it take to finish the first draft?
It took seven months to write the sample chapters for my proposal submission and an additional five months to finish the first draft of the book.

How many revisions did you write?
I have literally lost count. Three significant rewrites, however, some chapters required upwards of ten-fifteen revisions.

Who read your drafts?
In the early stages, a select group of friends read some of the chapters, however, my editor was the sole reader of Sky at its various stages.

How did you decide which comments were important and which you didn't need to heed?
I wholly believe that the editorial process is an organic and intuitive one. I knew which comments were right for my book and which are appropriate to discard. However, for the most part, my editor’s suggestions made for a better book, but it was an ongoing conversation, which made the editorial and revision process that much more challenging and exciting.

What was your overall rejection experience with this book?
To be honest, it wasn’t particularly traumatizing. Some editors didn’t connect with the story or the way I felt it needed to be told, and conversely, I didn’t connect with certain editors and the way in which they felt the book should play out. So the “rejection” went both ways. But I think finding the right editor for your work isn’t really about rejection (which, for me, has a negative connotation) or acceptance; it’s about finding the right partner for your project. Ultimately, I feel I made the right choice with Algonquin Books and my terrific editor, Amy Gash.

Did you already have an agent? Or did you use this project to get one?
I already had an agent and we worked on preparing the proposal and sample chapters for submission.

How long did it take for you to get an agent?
Six months.

How many agents passed on the project?
Four.

Once you got an agent, how long did it take to find a publisher?
We sold Sky within a month of submission.

How many editors passed on the project?
Two before the pre-empt. I don’t remember exactly, to be honest. The whole process was a bit of a surreal blur.

Where were you when you found out the book had been bought?
At work.

Who was the first person you told?
My boss at the time who is also my mentor.

Has your philosophy on getting published changed? Would you do anything differently now?
I’ve learned to be patient. Years ago, one of my writing teachers encouraged me to slow down, that there no rush to get my work to an agent to inevitably sell to a publisher. No one is waiting with bated breath for your book, she said, so take the time writing the best book you can possibly write at this particular time in your career, and spend the time finding the right agent for your project and, subsequently, the right publisher. My teacher also once said that she believed it takes seven years from a debut book’s inception to publication. For me it’s been five, so I feel pretty lucky.

What's your view of the rejection experience now?
I never take rejection personally. From enduring the publication process and all its electric twists and turns, and also working on the other side for a major publisher, there are so many factors at work, behind-the-scenes, regarding how projects are selected for publication. Also, not everyone will be the audience for your work or will embrace it, and you have to be prepared for that as well.

What words of advice would you give to a writer, rejected on the journey toward getting published?
Keep writing. Keep revising. Keep reading.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Not All It's Cracked Up To Be

For those who have complained about an obvious link between MFA programs and getting published, you will LOVE this article over at Vulpes Libris. Here's a highlight:

"Alice Munro, while teaching writing at York University in the 1970s, describes the time a student who wasn’t in her class brought her a story to read. “I remember tears came into my eyes because it was so good…she asked, How can I get into your class? And I said, Don’t! Don’t come near my class, just keep bringing me your work. And she has become a writer. The only one who did.”

Other famous writers echo this sentiment, while addressing a variety of topics. It's a great read.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Rejection Week in Review

Here's this week's Bloggedy-Blog on rejection and related matters:

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Millennium Hypergraphia II


Heeee's baaaack.

Favorite paragraph: "In answer to frequently asked questions... I regret that I don't know the name of the piece you entered. Those works were long ago recycled and due to the high volume of submissions, we just don't have time to record titles of the manuscripts we receive. I hope your records are of some help in that regard. (Honestly, how many contests bother to let you know how you did). Your good showing does not disqualify you from entering this or any other contest of your choosing as often as you like. You may re-enter your work or any other work unless it's been previously published in a book or magazine with over 5,000 circulation. Because of our daunting workload, we no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts for publication outside the contest."


So, you really do have to pay to get published. Need I say more?

Coming Soon --Your Book Here

I'm thinking of starting a little Happy Book & Story Corner on LROD. Maybe you'd like to participate. Are you promoting a book you've recently published? Do you have a little story about overcoming rejection you'd like to share? Would you consider publishing a snippet of fiction or creative nonfiction you finally got published, so we can praise you here and discuss how crazy anyone was ever to reject you? If so, send a note to writerrejected at aol dot com. We'll see how it goes.

New Millenium Hypergraphia



Two missives that spell C-R-A-Z-Y came in last night from my friend and yours Don Williams of New Millennium Writings. This time, he has a little rope-in announcement for contest participants; it's a congratulatory letter saying that if you are receiving the email, you were a finalist in his last contest. That means you made it down to the final 200! Whoo-ee!

But then just a few hours later, Don writes back to say that he sent out the congratulatory notice to the wrong list; you are NOT really one of the lucky final 200. You may in fact be the regular run-of-the-mill contest loser you always supsected you were.

But don't worry; Don will write you again because that's what he does. Just sit tight and he'll get back to you to let you know if you really, really are in that prestigious finalist crowd of 200, so that you will have renewed hope and submit another story and another twenty bucks to him.

Where there's life, my dear-hearts, there's hope. And where there are desperate writers, there is marketing ambition. It's a familiar story, isn't it?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fantasy Literary Letter #6


Dear Rosemary Ahern:

I was wondering what you think of the following Flannery O'Connor quotation and of my blog: “Manners are of such great consequence to the novelist that any kind will do. Bad manners are better than no manners at all, and because we are losing our customary manners, we are probably overly conscious of them; this seems to be a condition that produces writers.” Do I freak you out? I hope not. It has been pointed out by the reviewers that you are my patron saint, but mostly because I am an overly conscious writer, you are my metaphor, which I hope is okay with you. As always, I eagerly await your reply.

Fondly,
Writer, Rejected

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Annoying Blog Quote of the Day

"The number one reason for most agent rejections is that the person simply isn't ready." Go here for more.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I Heart Lisa Bankoff


Found this one that a friend sent in a while back. I think Bankoff still reigns as the quick clean rejection Queen:

"Bankoff, Lisa" LBankoff@icmtalent.com wrote:

Dear Writer: I'm sorry to be so long in responding and I appreciate your patience. These pages are smart and clever and altogether accessible, which I trust you know full well, but I don't feel as strongly as I should to undertake representation. I wish you success.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Don't Forget to Reject Me!

Dear Diane: I think you owe me a rejection from many, many moons ago. Don't deprive me of my life blood. Please. Love, Writer, Rejected

Rejection Oragami

There's a nice little meditation piece over at The Millions Blog, which includes possible constructive ways to dispose of literary rejection. Stephen King uses a spike and impales his. Amy Tan wallpapered the loo. LuLu will turn yours into toilet paper. It's worth hopping over for a read. Plus there's a bit in there about LROD:

"...A blog devoted to the anger, pain and frustration that follows every "Good luck with placing your work elsewhere" from an agent or editor. This blog is itself an answer to what to do with your rejections: throw them away, but first, complain about them on the internet! The posts, penned anonymously, are sometimes funny, but the bitterness and wrath sadden me, especially when they're aimed at small literary journals. Stop blaming them, and start subscribing. "

I'd agree that we are bitter, and sometimes funny, here. But I don't think we're wrathful, do you? I think we're too beaten down to work it up for anger. But maybe I'm wrong.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Bloggers on Rejection

Seems to be a blogging explosion on our topic, friends. Here's a list of a few interesting rejection posts for your Sunday morning browsing:

The Unpublished Desire of the Publishing Dead

Slate has published a fascinating article by Ron Rosenbaum to prove that even dead writers have publishing woes. This one is about Vladimir Nabokov who explicitly requested that his last unpublisehd work to be destroyed.

Rosenbaum writes: "It's a decision that has fallen to his sole surviving heir (and translator), Dmitri Nabokov, now 73. Dmitri has been torn for years between his father's unequivocal request and the demands of the literary world to view the final fragment of his father's genius, a manuscript known as The Original of Laura. Should Dmitri defy his father's wishes for the sake of 'posterity'?"

I don't quite understand why this is a question. Nabokov often scrapped entire drafts and started from scratch until he got the book he wanted. Why should we be privvy to his scratch pad when he made his wishes known? Rosenbaum wants to know who owns that manuscript? The dead guy does. I say, burn the damn thing.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Some Quotes for You Today


"You have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance."- Ray Bradbury

"Human beings, like plants, grow in the soil of acceptance, not in the atmosphere of rejection." -John Powell

"Large offers and sturdy rejections are among the most common topics of falsehood." -Samuel Johnson

“What allows genius to flower is not neurosis but tenacity and the ability to withstand disappointment” -Joan Acocella

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Ultimate Rejection Letter

The Individual Voice found a nice big rejection present for us at Chaos Matrix. It's not literary, but it is pretty damn funny. It is supposedly real and goes like this:
Herbert A. Millington
Chair - Search Committee
412A Clarkson Hall, Whitson University
College Hill, MA 34109

Dear Professor Millington,

Thank you for your letter of March 16. After careful consideration, I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me an assistant professor position in your department.

This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates, it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite Whitson's outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet my needs at this time. Therefore, I will assume the position of assistant professor in your department this August. I look forward to seeing you then.

Best of luck in rejecting future applicants.

Sincerely,
Chris L. Jensen

I think we've all been there.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Editors on Rejection

Kelly Spitzer is making a splash in our rejected world. Today in a blog entry entitled "Get Real: Editors Speak About Rejection Letters", she asks a bunch of editors, "Some literary magazine editors often critique stories they reject. Other literary magazine editors seldom or never critique stories they reject. Editors, what is your practice (or policy) here?"

Here's what they say:

Dave Clapper is the founding editor of SmokeLong Quarterly: "He occasionally writes, most recently appearing in FRiGG and forthcoming in Per Contra.At SmokeLong, we rarely critique stories we reject. We may offer a little extra encouragement if the writer was close to an acceptance or if we have a pre-existing relationship with the writer, but I’m hard-pressed to think of the last time we actually critiqued a piece we were rejecting."

Matt DiGangi is editor of Thieves Jargon: "Unless you can read minds, it’s useless to try and write rejection letters that every writer is going to be pleased with. As such, I think an editor should be more concerned with getting responses out to their writers as soon as possible."

Vanessa Gebbie is a writer, editor and creative writing teacher: "How possible is it to comment on all submissions? My guess is that it is not. And the more of a 'cult' magazine you are, the less possible it is. And therefore, only the chosen few writers can expect to have anything other than form rejects. The ones that come close but for some reason just miss, I hope fervently get a few words of encouragement… and those are the ones I would comment on myself."

Kelly Spitzer is a writer and an editor with SmokeLong Quarterly: "I’m still trying to figure out how to write rejection letters. They are freaking HARD, I tell you. Seriously, I have spent a good deal of time trying to word the little bastards. Especially when the piece has come close to acceptance. Why aren’t we accepting it then, I’m sure the writer wants to know."


That Spitzer, she's a spitfire. So, go on over and check it out for more.

Narrative Party

Look! The literary magazine I broke up with last month (Narrative Magazine/StoryQuarterly) is having a party with Amy Tan and Tobias Wolff. I could go and have dessert and wine, but I've thrown all of Narrative/SQ's clothes out of our shared closet and burned them in a huge bonfire on the front lawn, while shouting out all sorts of horrible names.

So it would be kind of awkward.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Drive Thru Rejections

Here's something. The blog BookEnds, LLC--A Literary Agency will fast track your rejection via a blog post. This one is entitled Pitch Critiques Round 18 (suggesting 17 other rounds?). To me, this is like driving through McDonalds for a quickie burger with cheese. Here's a little taste of what you can expect over there:
Pitch: Astrologer Di Darwin solves with a timed horoscope chart the murder of an old woman who chokes to death on a boiled Maine Lobster. Susie's amateur sleuth mystery.

Agent Response: The idea of an astrologer amateur sleuth interests me, but the writing would ultimately result in a rejection. Although the boiled Maine Lobster sounds hysterical, so I might consider it again. Nope, I would reject.

What will they think of next?

Monday, January 14, 2008

New Agent Waiting For Me in a Google Ad?

Check out the freaking google ad at the bottom of my blog. It says:
Find out who's waiting to meet you Read Now? [yes] [no] True.com

WTF? Who in his or her right mind would click on something like that? I've pretty much had it with this advertising negoogligence, and I'm planning a full-out google protest (a googlotest?). I mean it this time. Seriously. As soon as I finish my novel. Swear.

(No) Thanks and Good Luck!


A reader sent in this query rejection series from a handful of terse agents:


"Thanks for your query, but I'm not the right agent for your work. I sincerely apologize for the impersonal nature of this reply which is due to the large number of queries I receive each day. "


"I'm going to pass, but thanks and good luck."


"Thank you for your inquiry, but my roster is full and I am not taking on new clients at the moment."


"Unfortunately, I am not the right agent for your work. However, do not despair as I am sure another agent will feel quite differently."


To the last rejection, our reader added: "Really? Who?"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

MediaBistro Stumps Video of Publishing Insiders







Have you ever wondered what agents Gail Hochman and Henry Dunow look like? Editors Dan Menaker and Sam Tanenhaus? Then you should hop over to MediaBistro's preview of a silly little panel discussion entitled "The Secrets Behind Book Publishing." The entire video is for sale for $20 ON DEMAND, but you can get as much as you need by viewing the free preview. It's kind of fun, so check it out by clicking here.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Writers Bare All On Rejection Critiques

Kelly Spitzer has an article on her blog today about receiving criticism upon rejection entitled "Get Real: Writers and Editors Discuss the Publishing Process." Check out the entire article; it's good, though here are some highlights:

Short Story Writer Kathy Fish says: "I only want critique if the story was truly very close to acceptance. Otherwise, I would prefer a straight form rejection. If my story was not even close, I feel it’s because the editors or readers just didn’t like it, period."

Fiction Writer Clifford Garstang says: "I am ecstatic when I get a critique from an editor (or, more often, the second deputy associate junior editor’s assistant). I can’t imagine disliking feedback. "

Story Writer Martin Cloutier says: "I always appreciate when an editor gives feedback. Especially if it’s feedback on ways to improve the story, and not just a comment on how much they liked it but unfortunately couldn’t find a place."

Novelist Robert Bradley says: "Feedback tells me who I’m talking to. I get a sense of the personality and sensibility of the reader by what and how THEY write, which informs my next submission. "

What's your story?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Psychological Cleansing Ritual for Rejection

Psychologist and writer Dr. Sue (Susan O'Doherty) offers a poor rejected writer some interesting advice about what to do with all those pesky piles of literary rejection letters over at Buzz, Balls & Hype. After a fun psychological explanation of the impact of rejection, she suggests the following:

"Consider devising a ritual to commemorate discarding the slips. You may wish to burn them safely in the fireplace or the backyard, or to rip them into tiny pieces while chanting an appropriate mantra. (You can experiment with these until you find the one that allows you to relax your grip. For starters, you might want to try, 'I release your negative energy into the universe and free my manuscript to find its rightful home,' 'May rejection light the way to greater acceptance,' or 'Rot in hell, Atlantic Monthly!' whichever feels most a propos.)

Another possibility is to respond, in writing, on the back of the slips. 'Dear Editor: Thank you for your unwarranted form rejection. I wish you the best of luck in finding decent stories for your stupid magazine. You will need it because obviously you have no literary taste whatever.' Then rip them up and throw them away.

The point is to attend to and placate any part of yourself that may feel angry, hurt, or unfinished, without doing yourself professional damage or cluttering up your house. Pay attention to your feelings about the slips--not what you think you ought to feel but what happens in your gut when you read them--and respond symbolically. Chances are good that you will you clear space not only on your desk but in your psyche as well."

It's worth hopping on over to BB&H to read the entire post.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Am I Cursed?

Here's who has quit the business while working as my editor or agent:

1) The editor of my short story collection. The week after publication. I found out at a party through a friend of a friend. (Disaster.)

2) My last agent, who found a new calling. (Wife had baby. Needed the better salary.)

3) My current agent. Just found out the day before yesterday. Leaving the business. (BTW, I totally support the quit on my agent's part; I think it is a smart move, but I am also very sad about it.)

Granted, early in my career I quit a couple of agents myself, before they quit me (one was very fancy and a big name, but was about to retire; the other is a pal of mine, whom I still call Secret Agent Man). The worst part about this situation is that the replacement (i.e., boss, owner of the agency, assistant coming up, who-the-hell-ever) is never as enthusiastic as the agent/editor who originally discovered you....and then quit.

I guess this means I need to go to a meeting of Literary Rejects Anonymous. I am crying, my friends. Literally crying. I actually got emotional when I first found out about it and wished my current ex-agent all the best, vowing we'd keep in touch. Now, at a loss, I can't stop myself. Just like Hilary Clinton, who turned it all around with her tears....only I'm third-gendered, and how likely is it the vote will swing my way?

I'm open to suggestions.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Stop Stalking Me!

Wait a minute, SQ; I broke up with you. Call yourself Narrative Magazine and sell provocatively titled short story collections all you want. We're through.

NARRATIVE MAGAZINE

The trade paperback edition of our forthcoming Winter 2008 issue is now available from Amazon and features

  • Robert Olen Butler’s short short stories “Little Fuckers"
  • Viet Thanh Nguyen’s short story “Someone Else Besides You”
  • Octavia Randolph’s short story “Ride,” narrated by Lady Godiva
  • “The Royal Reykjav√≠k Sex Tour” excerpted from Scott Spencer’s new novel,
  • Stephen Kuusisto, Joseph Stroud, and Connie Wanek reportage on child soldiers in Colombia by Paula Delgado-Kling
  • an in-depth interview with Richard Rodriguez
  • Lacy Crawford’s profile of Reynolds Price
  • W. H. Auden’s classic essay on “Reading”

ORDER NOW ($14.95)

The SQ Love Story Contest with $5,750 in Prizes Entry Deadline: March 31

No more love stories for you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Auspicious Rejection

This little rejection was sent in anonymously:

"Dear Writer: While I admire much about the manuscript, I'm afraid I wasn't as engaged by your writing as I'd hoped to be. So, it's best that I step aside and wish you much success in placing [title of novel] with a publisher under just the right auspices."

Very formal what with the stepping aside and the auspices, don't you think?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Lights, Camera, Action: Rip Off?


I've decided that nearly all screenplay contests are rip-offs. I "won" one of these as a top-ten finalist once and nothing came of it. Have others had this experience? Anyway, certainly don't pay StoryPros a nominal fee to give you feedback. My understanding is that the feedback is also lame. Don't let others capitalize on your desperation. Save your money.

StoryPros 2007/2008 Awards Contest is now accepting entries! http://www.storypros.com Over $10,000 in CASH & PRIZES plus invaluable promotion to over 3,000 entertainment professionals! The Awards Contest is a genre competition where screenplays compete in 5 separate categories: Drama, Comedy, Action/Adventure/Thriller, Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror, and Family/Animation/Teen. Cash and/or prizes will be given out to the 1st-3rd place winners in each category and a Grand Prize winner will be chosen as the best script out of all entries. 16 winners total! Low entry fees! 2-3 pages of professional level feedback, development notes, and suggestions for improvement are also available as an option for a nominal fee. About Us: StoryPros is a screenwriting resource site and analysis service owned and operated by award winning screenwriters and professional studio readers.

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?

Halleluia Courage and Tenacity!

AP reporter Candace Choi has a misguided story at Business Week about self-publishing, which MediaBistro's GalleyCat corrects with some intelligent commentary, noting that: "...yes, technology has made it possible for just about anybody to become a published author—but that's only the first step in becoming a successful author, and only the people who have the courage and tenacity to see the project through, with or without a big company's help, will reap the full rewards."

Amen to that, brothers and sisters.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Love Stories No More

SQ is hot to collect your next entry fee for yet another contest. Sometimes when a magazine runs contest after contest it just feels kind of slutty. I don't think I'm going to send my love stories to them. In fact, I just want to be friends with SQ. I mean, I'd say "hi" if we bump into each other on the street, and perhaps I'd read SQ on the stand at the Barnes & Noble if I had some time to kill between appointments. But that's probably as far as I'd go. Here's the new announcement I got in my email yesterday:

StoryQuarterly
announces the SQ Love Story Contest
Open to fiction and nonfiction entries,
the contest offers
a First Prize of $2,500, a Second Prize of $1,500, a Third Prize of $750,
and ten Finalists each will receive $100.
Deadline for entries: March 31, 2008.
For complete details, please
click here.

What about you? Should we all break up with SQ together?

Friday, January 4, 2008

Post Road Kill (Again)

Found these contest results in yesterday's email and noted how I'm not on the winner's list and how I don't know who the judges are. Wish they had sent this out at the end of December. It's depressing to start with a generic slap so early in an optimistic new year, isn't it?

POST ROAD Magazine

We are very pleased to announce the winner of our contest:
Poetry, as judged by Wes McNair: WHAT WE'VE FORGOTTEN by Lorraine Healy
Fiction, as judged by Heidi Julavets: CHRIS STOPS THE BOYS by Dawsen Albertsen
The winning work will be published in POST ROAD 16, due out June 2008. Thanks to all those who entered. We appreciate your support for PR.
--JM

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Gives New Meaning to Going Postal

Former postal worker/long rejected novelist Catherine O'Flynn (37 years old of Birmingham, England) won the First Novel Prize at the prestigious Costa Book Awards, once known as the Whitbread Prize. Apparently the novel, entitled What Was Lost, struck Costa judges as an extraordinary book, "blending humor and pathos." However, according to the TimesOnline, at least 20 agents had formerly rejected O'Flynn with different phrases indicating "that her book was not one for them.” Sound familiar? So, see, there's hope for us, all my little rejected friends. As they said a long, long time ago, before you were even born: keep on truckin'.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Not Your Private Dancer -- Or Am I?

Check out a post entitled "It's Not You, It's--Well, Actually, Yeah, It's You" by a smarty pants new blogger (anonymously posting as A Writer) at Rewritten Reality. This is an academically critical review of LROD, which is pretty darn astute. Stuff like: "[Material at LROD] is so clever that it's sweet, and it's fun, and it's even a little decadent, but it's also, well, candy: it isn't real sustenance...." A Writer claims that Writer, Rejected is jaded, mean, self-destructive, brownnosing and a Postmodern Jester, almost convincing me that I am in fact all of those things. It's worth a read.

Greensboro: Your Manuscript vs. Our Needs


A reader sent this one in with commentary:

"When you submit to the Greensboro Review, they actually spend 41+ cents on you, by mailing out a personalized letter right away, just after logging your submission. It comes on nice stock, official letter head, is personalized to you and signed (in ink!) by at least one editor. The message? They're so glad you chose them as an outlet for your work, and they'll let you know about their decision as soon as they can -- and in the meantime, won't you consider subscribing? Maybe even getting gift subscriptions for all your relatives and friends? After all, this is the magazine that's considering your work *right now*! They even tell you to write or call them anytime! (Image 1) Then, months later, your SASE arrives. Your work is tucked in there and in pristine condition -- along with the tiny green slip. Sucker! (Image 2.)

"Nota bene
: I think the submitter will feel like a sucker no matter what he does about the subscription "offer." Obviously he'll feel that way for subscribing, but he'll feel the same if *doesn't* subscribe, as in my case -- for if they log their mail so closely, who's to say that my lack of financial support didn't influence their decision in rejecting my work?"