Friday, September 30, 2011

An Open Proposal to Secret Agent Man

Okay, mice, I'm hoping to put this chapter on biopsies and novels behind us.
     I had another biopsy yesterday with a different method, which was awesomely, eye-stingingly painful--shockingly so. But it seems they got a robust sample of cells, and if it all goes well, I can skip the hospital deep dig version of this test. It was no picnic, it took several practitioners to excavate, but it's over now and on Monday the cancer answer will be revealed. (By the way, the mathematical odds of my having cancer are very, very slim. I mean, super slim.)
     So I'm not worried, and I'm already moving on.
     You may think this is a cavalier attitude to take, given my lack of luck in most matters lately, but look at it this way, my chance of having cancer is even slimmer than my chance of publishing a novel in this climate. So, for now, I'm putting them both away.
     You can be happy to think of me quietly working on my juicy cultural memoir Daddy Dearest. (Just kidding, that's not the title.) My book is more of an attempt to figure out how disinheritance became my fate, a surprise delivered via a secret will.  (Who does that crap?) Did you know that only in this country is disinheriting a child a protected right?  The rest of the world finds it unthinkable.
     BTW, in regard to all this, I've been thinking about asking an agent friend, whom I call SECRET AGENT MAN, to represent the memoir. I'd much rather he get any money that might possibly be made on my career than any of the douches I've met over the years. Plus he's a super good guy, he knows about my blog and all my douchery, including stupid past decisions and dumb impatient ways. He represents very big memoirs, and he just started his own business.
     The question is: Will he take me on knowing what he knows about me? I would promise not to post anything he writes to me on this blog, unless he posts it himself. Maybe we could have a totally blog-worthy public relationship, communicating only via LROD, so others can see what an author/agent relationship is like.  Well, maybe that goes a step too far. But I do think this book at least stands a better chance of making some dough. It's got commercial appeal, it's got hollywood starlets, and it's

    So, what do you say, SECRET AGENT MAN? Will you take me on?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Promise for You

Having a different procedure today to get at the cells in question; hope this one works. In the meantime here's a cute little form letter from Arts & Letters for your rejection enjoyment:
Thanks for giving us the chance to read your work; unfortunately, it doesn't meet our needs at this time. However, we promise that if you keep writing, we'll keep reading. All the best, The Editors, Arts & Letters 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Update: Biopsy and Books

Thanks to all you mice for the fortifying thoughts and wishes.  I took you right with me into that gruesome procedure. Unfortch, it didn't go quite as swimmingly well as hoped, but I will find out today if indeed they got as many cells as they need to hunt down any cancer. If not, I may have to go the hospital for deeper dive. Either way, I should know the scoop by this afternoon. I have a strong feeling that everything is going to be nice and healthy in there. And if not, the good news is that I am truly one of the lucky ones to have very good insurance and access to medical experts. So, we will therefore carry on.
     As for, Agent 99, I have to say my overriding feeling is one of relief. I've been on pins and needles for a year, trying to become someone I'm not, trying to make my book something it's not, just so she'd send the blessed thing out. That was not a winning combination. I might as well have been back in my family of origin; I was never "good enough" for those freaks either. No more of that, mice. From now on, it's pretty much going to be take it or leave it. I'll wait until I have a real editor before I mess around with the book again. In the meantime, I'm going to let it hibernate for a while until I can get a clear thought going about what to do with it next re: going back to the original or keeping the version the genius rejecting agent says is muddled.
     In the meantime, I've had a kind of breakthrough with my non-fiction book. I think I'm going to get it together as a proposal and see if I can start there. It is the most commercial, marketable thing that has ever happened to me (disinheritance). Then if I get some bites, I can work backward through my unpublished opus: the novel, the collection of published fiction, the book of published essays, the other nonfiction project. (Don't you love the word "opus"? So much better than "evidence of wasting one's life.")
     So that's the scoop for now.  How about if I embed a nice little rejection in the middle of this long post, just for fun? A loyal reader sent this one from Ashley at Bateau Press, where the tag line is "Lit to float your boat."
So sorry if you received a response that told you your work was out of our scope. Ugh! New system quirks: we didn't realize it was sending that email out to everyone. Just disregard it. thanks! ashley
We all make mistakes, ashley. We all really do. Peace out, for now.
UPDATE: They didn't get the cells. More medical barbarism is needed. Unlucky in literature and diagnostics this month. Not sorry to see September go.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Agent 99 Bites

People, people, people: You are going to hate this almost as much as I do. First, I ask you to recall that it's been a year of my working with said Agent 99 from the large fancy literary agency. Back and forth we went with changes and revisions and her idea about how to "fix" my novel. Together here at LROD we have discussed the merits of working on edits with an agent, of compromising one's art, but we have seen nothing like this so far. Are you ready for it? I am going to leave the picking apart of this amazing rejection to beat all rejections to you and your witty, wonderful ways.  You may also feel free to berate me about being naive enough to believe I was finally on my way; all I had to do was fix "a little structural problem" without "muddling" everything up, and that would be that. Have at it! I am taking to my bed today. As for our recent discussions about whether or not it is a good idea to respond to rejection letters, I thought of writing the following: Dear Agent 99: I'm not sure what's worse this week, the fact that after stringing me along for an entire calendar year, you are now rejecting me because my novel now seems muddled and always seemed to dark, or the fact that I have to face a painful biopsy for some suspected cancer.  You really stink.  Best, W,R. Of course, I will let my silence speak instead. Sadly, friends, the part about suspected cancer is true. I'm sure it's going to turn out perfectly fine and not be anything malignant, but then again, for a cynic, I am eternally optimistic.  I have a biopsy tomorrow, so may not get online to post until next week. Send some good thoughts my way if you are able. can be a kick in the teeth, right? What a week!

Here's what Agent 99 had to say:

Dear _________:   
     This is a difficult email for me to write, but after a lot of time and careful reads from me and a few trusted colleagues here, I’m afraid I’m going to have to walk away from [slightly incorrect Title of Book...really? You couldn't get it right?]. I really do admire you personally and as a writer, and I’m sorry it took so long for me to make this decision, but I don’t think we’re seeing eye-to-eye editorially in the way I would like. 
     I think you’re such a talented writer, and I love your style and your unique sense of prose and voice. That said, ultimately the book still isn’t working in the way I would need it to in order be its very best advocate. I have too many hesitations remaining, and indeed, even though we decided it was best to tie the two parts together (which I do think is crucial to the book) I’m still not seeing the execution I would like.
      The redraft has also confused the original intent of the book and muddled some of the elements I loved earlier on. In this incarnation, it seems so obvious to me that [name of character] is the culprit, and the adding in of [detail] and the [different detail] from the start creates so many plot lines, so many characters to focus on, that I lost [main character's name] a bit. I also still find the darkness of the book overbearing, an issue I’ve had throughout the times I’ve read, and worry that you haven’t found a way to alleviate this. 
     It’s very unusual that I take someone on editorially unless I truly believe in them, and I do believe in you, absolutely. But I also think we’ve come to an impasse. I only hope that giving you my time and advice on the manuscript has helped you in your journey a bit, and I’m sorry to say that my love for the book is not enough to take it forward. You and this novel deserve the passionate representation that I can’t provide, and so I think I should step aside before we go any further. I’m certain that I’ll see your name on shelves someday, and I’ll be cheering from the sidelines. 
     Agent 99
p.s. As you can see, she's really not "mine". Yours is just a nice thing people say at the end of a terrible letter. Oh well. Fuck it.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

"Preclude"...A Good Penn State Word

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read your work. We have decided it does not suit our current needs. We wish you luck in placing it elsewhere, and we regret that the large volume of submissions we receive precludes a more personal reply. Editors, Lake Effect

Monday, September 19, 2011

How to Succeed in Rejection

If they use the title twice in a rejection note it seems more like they did indeed read it closely and give it careful consideration. That is, if you fall for that kind of thing.
Thank you for sending your work to Narrative. We are always grateful for the opportunity to review new material, and we have given "Title" close reading and careful consideration. We found many strengths to recommend your work and, overall, much to admire. We regret, however, that "Title" is not quite right for us. We encourage you try us again in the future, and we hope that you will. Sincerely, The Editors  
BACKSTAGE | NARRATIVE PRIZE | ABOUT US | A Nonprofit Publication of Narrative Press

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

An Agent Writes In...But Not My Agent

A good-humored agent sent me the following correspondence, which consists of the agent's rejection, followed by a rather snarky response from a rejected writer (not me, friends).  A little advice to you all, keep your snarkiness here at LROD, rather than pointing it out at the agents of the world. It is a teeny-tiny world out there. We should aim to keep a little Just a bit of unsolicited advice.  Here are the samples:
AGENT'S REJECTION: Dear ______: 
Thanks for the query but I'm not the right agent for you.  I found your writing style a little too stiff for me to feel I could find you the right publisher.  But I wish you much luck connecting with someone who doesn't share my reservations. Signed, Secret Agent

REJECTED WRITER'S RESPONSE:Thanks for your considered reply. 
I would have preferred a plain, flat rejection (your first sentence would have been sufficient).  Your added effort to say “ a little too stiff” without any further explanation leaves me with more questions than the answer/s of a simple rejection. 

[BTW, If there are other agents out there who would like to send in similar case studies anonymously demonstrating how not to respond to rejection...or better yet, how to respond to rejection, we welcome you warmly. Keep the examples coming.]

Monday, September 12, 2011

Isn't The 9th Letter "I"?

Dear Writer: Thanks for submitting your work to Ninth Letter. We're sorry this submission wasn't right for us. We appreciate your interest in our magazine, and wish you the best of luck placing your work elsewhere. Sincerely, The Editors, Ninth Letter

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Dear Occupant...

What are the chances of getting accepted at One Story? Must be truly slim, no? Does anyone read One Story? it is supposed to address our ever-shrinking attention spans and be something you can read while on the New York City, I guess.
Dear Writer: We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this submission was not a right fit for One Story. Thank you for trying us. Sincerely, The Editors of One Story

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dear Loser...

Someone found this on Flickr and sent it in. It says: Dear Loser, Thank you for sending your demo materials to Sub Pop for consideration. Presently, your demo package is one of a massive quantity of commendable material we receive every day at Sub Pop World Headquarters, and is (due to time and volume restrictions) on it's way through the great lower intestines that is the talent-acquisition process*.  We appreciate your interest in Sub Pop and wish you the best in your pursuit.  Kind regards, * This is a form letter. The letter is what is known as "a rejection letter."

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It Was the Worst of Times. It was the Worst of Times.

Here's an interesting little ditty from GalleyCat about why not to pitch your book, bug your agent, approach your editor, or basically breathe in publishing this week.  Hmm....very interesting, Dr. Lockhart!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Passing The Time

There has been some apt suggestions in the posts lately that I'm wasting my time waiting for Agent 99. In previous years, I would have agreed and become antsy, but my new philosophical and Zen self thinks that things are how they are supposed to be. (Believe me I am plenty antsy, just not going to do anything about it.) Call it too much yoga. Call it a life of dysfunction and denial that has served me well. Besides, I have yet to have the experience where I actually have any control over these matters. Can I make her read it any faster? No. Can I pressure and be a dick about it? Sure, but I'm not much of a dick so that doesn't interest me. Can I send it elsewhere? Oh, please. What's the point? I finally found someone who loves this book, and if she's a little slow, so be it. Maybe that seems passive and lame, and maybe it is. I'm working on faith here, people. I've got to let it unravel on its own.  In the past, my attempts to hurry things along have been futile, frustrating, and sometimes detrimental to my own purpose. In other words, I only tend to fuck things up.  So, I'm sitting back and working on my paid work, and writing a memoir that tries to unravel the mystery about why I was disinherited. Interesting topic: Did you know that the U.S. is the only country where disinheriting a child is even possible--legally and morally. In most other cultures, it's considered a moral outrage. King Lear, anyone? So, that's what I've got on this Friday of Labor Day. I think I'll just wait it out and do whatever I need to do to get by. It's kind of like recovering from heartbreak: it doesn't really matter what you do to fill up the time, as long as the time passes.  That's the key to it.  Eventually, something else happens.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Here Comes the Sun

So many words for one little standard rejection:
Thanks for sending us your submission. We're sorry to say that it's not right for The Sun.This isn't a reflection on your writing. We pick perhaps one out of a hundred submissions, and the selection process is highly subjective, something of a mystery even to us. There's no telling what we'll fall in love with, what we'll let get away. We rarely respond personally to submissions, as the number of manuscripts we receive makes this difficult. We're aware that writing is hard work, and that writers deserve some acknowledgment. A form letter doesn't speak to that need. Please know, however, that we've read your work and appreciate your interest in the magazine. We wish you the best in placing your work elsewhere. The Editors P.S. We've returned your work if sufficient postage was included. If not, we assumed we could recycle it.
Glad they recycle.