Friday, September 28, 2012

Pep Talk From an LROD Reader*

You shouldn't quit, or even think about it. I get twenty rejections a day. It doesn't mean anything. I write for everyone, and publish more than anyone in this country (quite literally). Also: you don't need an agent. They're the worst. I fire them routinely, when I beat them at their own job and they come in wanting some money for work they never did. (An agent has never gotten me anything--not the NY'er, the Atlantic, ESPN, 150 other places, book deals, nothing). Your book about being disowned (which prompted me to send something to the Love column thing, which was rejected) is a good idea. You can make a go of it. Pitch it up. Write a chapter or two. Share the link to the NYT thing (or just make that into a chapter; would probably take you fifteen minutes). And go straight to editors. Bosses of houses. Why not? Don't fall for what agents say. You can't approach this person, you can't approach that person. That's bollocks, so that they can maintain their parasitic existence. Go right to the EICs and head editors. You'd be surprised at the reaction. Pitch. Pitch pitch pitch. That's a good idea for a book. Really good. I am sure you could get an indie to go for it, and wouldn't be surprised if you got a major to bite, albeit, maybe, with a small advance. But good returns on the book could well lead to a bigger advance for another. Don't give up. Fuck these people. And then fuck the fuck out of them. They're frauds. They don't matter. Not in the long term, and less in the short term than anyone tends to think.
Thoughts?  Is this sage advice?  Let's hear from some industry people and editors out there: What do you think when you get a pitch from an author without an agent?  Does it mean the same thing as it used to? Is it more acceptable these days than it used to be?

*I tried to quit this blog, but now everyone's showing up with important things to share. That's okay. I can ease my way into blog retirement.


Mercury rising said...

I think it's good advice. WTF. Don't abandon the ship, my little friend.

mercury rising said...

Don't give up the ship.
You're the whack.

Anonymous said...

Whatever you do, don't stop writing. It is a great joy, and your writing is not diminished by what someone thinks of it.Platitudes, you say? True, nevertheless.

Start a second novel, use your memoir as a plot, build on it, use your first novel as a back story ... whatever works. But keep writing, for yourself and for everyone who enjoys reading. Don't yoke your writing to success, money, fame ... enjoy it in its purest form. What happens next is immaterial.

You are good, stay on it.

Good luck, and fuck the agents.

Teddy Wiswold said...

This blog has served its purpose for you, W/R. It allowed you to curse the clueless rejections from literary journals, to rally the troops against discouragement, and to celebrate the self-certainty that's necessary for a writer to progress. But if you quit writing altogether, you're giving in to the pressure of rejection. And by my understanding, that defies your intention with starting this blog in the first place.

To be honest, you're too caught up in whether editors and agents love you. Who cares about those dicks? They can go suck a frog's ass. If your only goal in writing is getting published, of course you'll be disappointed. Writing needs to be your means for exploring the world and your place in it.

Please, write one final post thanking your readers and saying that this blog has ended. Then go reinvent yourself. Maybe you're stuck in a rut. So change something. I find it helps to rearrange my living room or divorce my wife. Maybe quitting this blog is all you need. Once you're gone from LRD, you won't associate yourself with so much rejection. You'll just be you, a writer struggling honestly like the rest of us. Trust yourself. Godspeed, W/R!

Anonymous said...

Quit the blog, don't quit writing. Much love from Sydney.

Anonymous said...

I worked at a lit mag (Fiction at City College started by Barthelme and still run by Mark Mirsky) as a Managing Editor. This was in the early days of digital publishing and here's why no one rejects manuscripts: no one is running the magazine. There were 1000's of manuscripts, one managing editor, and a bunch of first-year mfa's who didn't want to read the chaff to find the cream. It's a miserable job with little-to-no pay, so that's why people aren't getting responses. I also worked in book publishing in the late 80's--though things have changed, I imagine they're worse. The editorial staff, who were the first tier to read or reject slush, were paid peanuts and expected to read upwards of 20 manuscripts and books a week. Your average underpaid, newly-graduated college student loses interest fast. And I was the one who would type and send back your unagented books. Form letters and all.

Having always aspired to write, I still couldn't keep up with the work and didn't have a lot of sympathy for the folks I was rejecting. Too many faceless pages to care.

If I wanted to be published, I would send 100 manuscripts a day, which I think is time consuming, boring, and the only way to be successful. Sheer numbers.

Anonymous said...

Well, no, definitely don't quite writing, but as an (associate) literary agent, I for one don't think we're frauds. Maybe some of us are, but for myself, I represent books I fall in love with, and sometimes get them published with pretty much no financial benefit for me. I'm in a Creative Writing MFA - I get literary rejections too. So keep writing, and send me your book.

Clark Zlotchew said...

Sometimes,k the reasons given for a rejection would make excellent advertisements for the particular involved.

I've had 17 books published. Fourteen in academe (literary criticism, interviews with Latin American authors [including Borges]; books teaching Spanish at various levels, translations of short stories from Spanish), and 3 of my own fiction (short stories; military/action novel, spy/thriller novel).

The small publisher that published my collection of short stories (with background ofd 1950s), rejected my espionage/thriller. They admired the writing, but felt the novel was "too frightening" for their audience. It took place (mostly) in a foreign country, so might "confuse the reader."

Rejected for reasons like the two above, but with otherwise very favorable comments, such as "his character portrayal is excellent; I could recognize them individually if I saw them in the street" "he creates suspense and excitement so that he keeps the reader turning pages."

Because of that, I too hastily had the novel published by less than up-and-up publisher (I hadn't done due diligence.)

Anonymous said...

You are a TRUE writer!!!!

Your "cognitive responses" to the work you have invested in, is par for the course, and very well known to the writer's path. Bravo!!! You are not simply a wordsmith, but Actually are "connected" to the work you have "brought to life.

All the Best!!!

Christine Comstock said...

Being rejected sucks. Plain and simple. It can make you question what you know to be true. What compels me about you is your heart for your own writing. For the love you have for the art and the pride you have in yourself. It can still get you down I'm sure, but you have brought encouragement through your blog to so many others. I hope that you do continue. I loved your final line, "Not in the long term, and less in the short term than anyone tends to think."

Christine Comstock said...

Rejection sucks. It is a fact of life. That doesn't make it any less hurtful when it happens however. You are an encourager to the many that read your blog, to the many who also receive rejection and have a hard time getting past it. Thank you for sharing your own personal rejection so that others my understand how to grow beyond theirs. Without you, many would feel rejected and alone. With you they have a place to come home to, a place to share and a place to feel safe.