Friday, January 29, 2010

See More Glass

The original literary obsessions of my early life. Rest in peace, strange man.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

But I Am a Precious Snowflake...Really I Am

Remember when the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR) somehow decided it would be funny to post on the VQR blog all of their mean inner thoughts showing a tendency to belittle the literary submissions they receive?  That was a disaster, right? And then there was a kind of  half-apology follow-up when they realized people got pissed about this behavior.  And then remember when the VQR editor, Ted Genoways, came around to say a few words at LROD and get us to read his journal?  Well, now Genoways has a piece in Mother Jones entitled "The Death of Fiction?" in which he laments the current state of literary journals.  Here's a highlight:
Back in the 1930s, magazines like the Yale Review or VQR saw maybe 500 submissions in a year; today, we receive more like 15,000. This is due partly to a shift in our culture from a society that believed in hierarchy to one that believes in a level playing field. This is good—to a point. The reality is that not everyone can be a doctor, not everyone can be a professional athlete, and not everyone can be a writer. You may be a precious snowflake, but if you can't express your individuality in sterling prose, I don't want to read about it.
Basically, he blames the situation in large part on writers, but not really you, mice; Genoways only actually speaks to academic writers.  Here's what I mean:
... I'm saying that writers need to venture out from under the protective wing of academia, to put themselves and their work on the line. Stop being so damned dainty and polite. Treat writing like your lifeblood instead of your livelihood. And for Christ's sake, write something we might want to read.
This story is courtesy of our friend John Fox over at BookFox who offers his sage opinion on the matter.  It's worth a hop over there to read Fox's post.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Nicole Aragi: Rejecting as Usual


Perhaps "doomsday" was a bit dramatic.  For instance, it's business as usual according to this form email rejection I received recently: "Thank you for your interest in our agency. Sadly, however, Nicole Aragi has a full client list and is not taking on new work at the moment."  I don't think the assistant thinks it's really that sad, do you?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Doomsday Rejection


Here's the intensely juicy response I got yesterday when querying a few more agents because, well, what the hell? Apparently, I'm just refusing to believe that the end is near. Here's what I got in return: Hi: Thank you for your query. Don’t worry – it’s not you; the industry is collapsing and it’s becoming more and more difficult to work in it. That said, I’m not going to be the right agent for you, either, because my future is uncertain. Best of luck to you in finding someone who can stick around and help you get published! Kind regards, Agent in Small Downsizing Boutique Agency  Wowzer!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Keep It Simple, Sweetheart...


According to an LROD reader, Lyons Literary can reject you in 8 words: "Thanks for writing, but this isn't for me."  Now that's efficient.  You could cut it in half with a few minor edits:  Thanksnot for me.  What was your shortest rejection?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Just FYI: Slush is Dead And Other Bad News


Yeah, so it looks like anthrax killed the slush pile.  Huh? There's an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal posted at 411 Mania (scroll down to the subhead about Jim Webber) on the topic.  Here's a highlight: "Book publishers say it is now too expensive to pay employees to read slush that rarely is worthy of publication. At Simon & Schuster, an automated telephone greeting instructs aspiring writers: "Simon & Schuster requires submissions to come to us via a literary agent due to the large volume of submissions we receive each day. Agents are listed in 'Literary Marketplace,' a reference work published by R.R. Bowker that can be found in most libraries." Company spokesman Adam Rothberg says the death of the publisher's slush pile accelerated after the terror attacks of 9/11 by fear of anthrax in the mail room."  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Take Back The Night, Yo



In case you manage to get a new agent, this dude nicely posted a sample literary agreement you can use as a kind of contract.  Is it any good?  I don't know fershizzle, but have a looksee for yourself.  Writes blogger Dean Wesley Smith in defense of the idea: "...many writers are choosing to hire an Intellectual Properties attorney to do contracts. So this checklist is only for those thinking of hiring an agent. I want to be clear on the fact that I agree that an agent is not required. But if you do decide to try an agent to help negotiate a contract, at least hire the agent under your terms."

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Amnesia Rejection


I found this while cleaning out some papers on Sunday.  I remember the handwriting more than I remember the situation of this particular rejection.  Counterpoint...so must have been a book-length submission, probably nonfiction. The note says:  "I am sorry not to have been taken with this but these are subjective matters, and I do wish you luck in finding a suitable house for this work."  (Note that he does not capitalize the personal pronoun "I." Hmmm.)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Time: It Passes So Slowly


From the mailbag today, came this: "Go to the duotrope website and under "what's new" look at Narrative Magazine. Two responses: One is a 10 day acceptance; the other, a 776 rejection. 776 days! [Scroll down the large list to #509 & #510.] Can you imagine?"  Unfortunately, I can.

Friday, January 15, 2010

"Rejection Letters" by Nava Lubelski


So far 2010 has yielded some awesome rejection art.  This beauty is by Nava Lubelski, who has gotten a lot of press for her wine-stained table cloth. Says the Boston Globe "…her works are like vivid, stuttering topographical maps, with stitches gathering in a healing way around the dark stains...her mastery of color and gesture makes these works beautiful." I think her remodeled, remended rejections are pretty darn brilliant.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Do You Really Need An Agent?


Over at Spywriter Blog, Jack King has found a new way.  You can download his ebook for free on his site.  The book is called: "Ditch the Agent and Become a Published Writer." Here's one agent who is furiously working against the idea that agents are dinosaurs.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Little Razzle Dazzle


So, after quite an editorial struggle, I got an essay published in a main-stream publication that's read by a lot of people. The piece was about being a writer in large part.  So, being fast on my feet, I sent a link to the agents who still have (zzzzzzzzzz) my novel from way back into the year 2009 and are professing to be reading it as quickly as possible.  Do you think when you do something like that you are being annoying and cheesy, or do you think it helps?  I am of two minds, but hope for the latter.  Any opinions on it?  Do you do things like that when an agent or editor is reading your work, or do you sit quietly like you're supposed to, patient as a nun?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Nimrod Idling A Gesture?


Some good-hearted LROD reader wrote in to share this gem: "I got a form rejection from Nimrod inviting me to submit again, followed by the sentence, 'This is not a come-on or idle gesture.' Just thought it was odd phrasing. A come-on? Wish I had a copy to send you, but it was a while ago."  Holy moly, that takes publishing romance to a whole new level.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Blog Soup Post


I like the wrinkles in this rejection.  That's how far I have slumped, ladies and germs.  I am talking about paper creases. It doesn't get much lower.  So let me tell you two stories:
  1. A couple weeks ago I gave a friend two agent contacts and told him to use my name; I also gave him a list of agents (with whom not to use my name), and a couple of encouraging words and some strategy points.  Two weeks letter, he writes to say 4 agents have asked to read his complete manuscript, including the 2 I know well.  His book is good. Guess maybe I didn't need to tell him to hang in there and not worry if he got a lot of rejections.  Funny right?  
  2. A guy I know who gave up on his writing career about 5 years ago got a call the other day from a small press; they found his short-story manuscript in the office, read it, and want to publish it. (Sorry for the five year delay.)  He'd forgotten he'd ever sent the damn thing there.  How about that?
I'm going to send my novel out to a few of those places where the award is a couple of clams and a publishing contract.  I'm kind of tired of waiting on these guys.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Future is Upon Us


Richard Nash makes some interesting publishing predictions.  Here's a highlight: "In 2020 we will look back on the last days of publishing and realize that it was not a surfeit of capitalism that killed it, but rather an addiction to a mishmash of Industrial Revolution practices that killed it, including a Fordist any color so long as it is black attitude to packaging the product, a Sloanist hierarchical management approach to decision making, and a GM-esque continual rearranging of divisions like deck chairs on the Titanic based on internal management preferences rather than consumer preferences." 
    Agree?
    Or how about this one: "In 2020 some people will still look back on recent decades as a Golden Age, just as some now look back on the 1950's as a Golden Age, notwithstanding that the Age was golden largely for white men in tweed jackets who got to edit and review one another and congratulate one another for permitting a few women and the occasional Black man into the club."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Spam! A Lot!


Does it mean something when your blog starts getting spammed to holy hell? Above is merely one example; I also get Viagra, iPhone, and porn spam to the tune of about 20 a day. Does this means my blog has arrived and is considered lucrative? Or does it mean I have entered the 9th circle of hades? Does anyone know?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Turn the Pages of Your Book


Here's a rejection from Lauren at Wendy Strothman's Agency, who maybe did reject me at some point.  Logo is telling.

Monday, January 4, 2010

And Then There Was Art


A description of the piece above by Canadian artist Graham Gillmore entitled "Rejection Letter" goes like this: "...the large-scale Rejection Letter offers a bureaucratically worded refusal missive. Gillmore’s playful investigations of hope and doubt, of promise and failure, further the artist’s aim throughout his practice to 'infuse within the darker side of the human experience humour and sarcasm in order to deflate and then balance out our unrealistic expectations, hopes and dreams.'” Amen. (Way to start out highbrow in 2010.)