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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Alice Hoffman Tweets Against her Critic

Salon reports on a recent Alice Hoffman Twitter rant about an unfavorable Boston Globe review of her latest book by Roberta Silman.  The title of the Salon article is "Hey, authors, don't tweet in anger!"  Seems like good advice.  Here's a highlight:  "Smarting from a so-so review of "The Story Sisters" in the Boston Globe, the prolific novelist tweeted her fury to the world. She came out swinging, calling reviewer Roberta Silman "a moron," quickly moving on to "idiot," then expanding her repertoire to dis the newspaper and the city of Boston itself. But the real jaw-dropper in Hoffman's two dozen plus tweets on the subject was her suggestion that "If you want to tell Roberta Silman off, her phone is [Silman's phone number and email address]. Tell her what u think of snarky critics."

In Keeping with the Week's Theme

Mary Lindsey's blog offers these interesting (though unsourced) tidbits
  • Less than 1% of writers with a complete novel find an agent to represent them
  • None in the 1% is guaranteed a book in print
  • Only 60% of agented books sell
She also examines a rejection she has received.  It's good stuff.  Worth clicking over for a read.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Close Call, But No Luck

A friend in the publishing industry told me yesterday that very good books by established writers are being rejected for being "too quiet." This applies to books about floods, rape, and radical undergrounds and war. My friend also told me that generally no editor is buying books unless the book is guaranteed to make $100,000.00 over the advance. This is depressing. And it also perhaps explains the following rejection , which I received very recently concerning my finally completed novel: "I so apologize for taking this long with the manuscript. I’ve been waiting for some kind of extreme intervention to swoop down and change my response, but, alas, it has failed to come. I loved the novel, and I did have a tremendous amount of deja-vu when reading and remembering the things that attracted me the first time. The wonderful family dynamic, the sense of place, the individual characters within the family. But, I couldn’t help thinking, visa-vi the “business” of publishing (I HATE when that creeps into my reading experience), I bet I COULD have sold this years ago, but now I think the only response I would receive from editors is “this is too quiet.” It sucks that this is the current attitude in mainstream publishing. And, I have very recently received this annoying response consistently in response to novels I submitted that, like yours, are beautifully written and well drawn..." It is ironic to have worked for so many years writing and rewriting, only to unveil (ta-da) at a time when we are at the absolute nadir of book-buying. Well, alas, indeed. I got close, folks. That interested editor from the wonderful publishing house, who loved the novel, passed it on to her colleague and I've been waiting for weeks on end to see if it was going to happen for me. However, the second editor wasn't as convinced, even though she wrote: "I am very impressed with your writing and found myself needing to read to the end to see what happened to [the two main characters], and to the rest of the family. You've done a great job embedding a spooky sense of mystery in these pages." She still rejected it, because the story wasn't for her and she felt that the balance at the end was slightly off; so I guess she wasn't impressed enough.

BTW, she is Lauren Wein at Grove.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Enter Writing Contests Only if They are about Dick Cheney

So, there's always lots of LROD chatter about whether or not entering literary contests is a legitimate way to make your mark in the world.  So here's a contest from the Washington Post that seems just plain irresistible.  Submissions must be in by July 2nd; if you enter, please send a copy to writerrejected at aol dot com, and we'll post yours here after the contest is over (whether you win or not).

News item: Former vice president Dick Cheney has signed a contract to write a memoir about his long career in government and industry, from his years as Gerald Ford's chief of staff to his prominent role in shaping the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policy after Sept. 11, 2001.

Your challenge: Propose the first paragraph of Cheney's book!

Sample: "Undisclosed Location, Inauguration Day, Jan. 20, 2009: Well, the baton is passed. Our work is finally done. Eight years, one devastating terrorist attack, two wars and one recession later, it's finally time to relax. It's been an amazing ride. George and I can certainly say, 'We did it our way!' Or really, if you want to get technical about it, my way. Well, best of luck to this new crew. They're going to need all the help they can get. Or as I was saying to Lynne the other night, it's going to take an 'extraordinary rendition' to get us out of this mess. And with this bunch coming into office, you can bet it's going to be torture. Ha-ha!"

The particulars: E-mail your paragraph by July 2. Please include your name and city of residence. We'll publish the best

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Where the Forks are Grand and the Rejections Are Not

Simple and to the point.  The photography is also perfectly depressing.  A good mood piece.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Train Ride is Over

As you know, I am no fan of Glimmer Train, since once one of the sisters (I forget which one) was so rude to me regarding a normal matter (I believe it was a reversal rejection) that she had to write me an apology email and blame it on not having had her coffee, or something.  But, anyway, here's Worst Writer's commentary on the weird Glimmy Rejection system: "I’ve been rejected once again. Well. Not totally rejected. The submission I recently made has been categorized as “complete” – see pic. “Complete” means, of course, rejection. At the least “complete” means they won’t publish my work. Here’s a visual to help you along."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Not Our Rejection Book

Where to start with this Elle book review?  First of all, "Failure made funny"?  Second of all, what about our guy, Bill Shapiro?  His book might have some of our collective rejections in it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rejection Letter Trading Cards

I'm not exactly sure I understand the formula over at Rejection Letter Trading Cards (the so-called "ultimate site for all your agent & editor rejection letter trading cards!"), but there is something amusing about the idea. As you can see above, there is a positive spin on each agent trading card with links to their accounts on twitter/myspace/facebook, as well as agency websites.  I gather the author only creates a trading card after getting rejected by the featured agent, but I'm not sure if that's exactly it.  Anyway, the blogger is soliciting ideas for how he can better devise his points system; you can write to jimsissy at yahoo dot com.   So far, there is a card for Rachelle Gardener, Jenny Rappaport, Diedre Knight, and two folks at Firebrand Agency.  If anyone can decipher what's going on and how it works, please post a comment to explain.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Potential Relationshipees Chat Over Lunch

This should really be my final post about BookEnds.  I don't know why I can't tear myself away from the eye-opening posts from this agent.  It's like a car accident on the side of the road.  Here's a recent post: "I’m actually going to... tell you a story about an author I recently offered representation to. I made a point of meeting this author in person and we had what I thought was a very pleasant and honest chat about publishing, her career, and all of those things potential relationshipees chat about. Upon returning from our meeting, I dropped Author an email to let her know how much I enjoyed our time together and included a copy of our author/agent contract for her review. A few days later I finally heard back: not surprisingly Author had a number of agents interested and needed time to think. About a week later I followed up to see how she was doing and to let her know I was available to answer any questions she might have. A few days later she emailed back to say she had decided to go with another agent. She was very complimentary, but left no real indication of what the deciding factor in her choice might have been. There was no reason to, and honestly, she really doesn’t owe me any explanation." Sorry, I couldn't resist. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Asher to Asher

Novelist Jay Asher (whose suspense novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, is available from Razorbill/Penguin) posted the above rejection on his blog from Houghton Mifflin editor Ann Rider. (Her note reads: "I would like to spend a little more time with it if you don't mind. Sorry for the delay.")

Writes Asher: "I ended up revising The Chalkboard Drawings three times for that editor. In time, she rejected it. But with each round of revisions, the manuscript got better and I became a better writer. So I assumed, if not that particular manuscript, something else would get picked up in no time at all!"  (It did.....7 years later.  Ah, the timing of a literary career; how out of our hands it is. I wonder how this guy stays so upbeat.)  

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It Only Costs 2 Sawbucks, Poor Writer!

Oh, Narrative Writing Magazine, Narrative Writing Magazine! When will you learn? The $10 appeal goes like this:  "$10 IS NOT SO MUCH when you consider that Narrative publishes more fiction writers, poets, and artists than any other literary magazine—more than 125 authors and artists in the first five months of 2009 alone—and we give our content away, free. With Narrative’s $10 Campaign, one donation combined with many has the power to sustain literature. In these tough economic times, with funding for nonprofits down, we’re asking everyone who enjoys Narrative to participate. We need you." I guess the backstage pass didn't go over very well in terms of profits.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Bug Off: Gina Oschner & Jacob Appel

I received the following letter from "Miss Tiff," who desperately needs your wise opines of the anonymice, so please chime in:

WMD: I have a question for you. Last year I submitted my story, "Green Squid" to Narrative Magazine's contest, and Gina Ochsner won. She already had a big book deal.  I submitted the same story to Perigee this year, and I just got the following message (see below), which made me feel crummy. Not that I lost, but that yet another established writer won. I am sure their stories are as good as mine, or better, but what exactly is the point of writers like Ochsner and Appel competing in these small online contests, which really don't do them any good, but would be a big break for me and other peons? Is it all about the money?

In affectionate frustration,  
Miss Tiff

PS: If you have any good markets to suggest, I'll thank you in advance.

Perigee is pleased to announce the winners of our 2009 Fiction Contest. Fiction Editor Duff Brenna, and our finalist judge James Brown, have selected three winners and two honorable mentions from a selection of 10 finalists.

First Place ($300): "Auscultating in the Fourth Dimension," by Jacob M. Appel.

Second Place ($200): "It Happened to River," by Rachel Allyson Stone.

Third Place ($100): "Camping," by Sarah Lynn Knowles.

Honorable Mentions: "Lessons in House Hunting," by Cynthia Drew; "Past Buckhorn Reservoir," by Elizabeth Kaufman.

Additional Finalists: "Color Me Normal," by Christine Benedict; "Thirty-Nine Minutes," by Sandra Jensen; "A Two-Chambered Heart," by Priyanka Joseph; "Shotgun Levine," by Hesh Kestin; "Population Me," by Kevin O'Neill.

The winning stories will be published in our 25th issue, due out on July 15th, 2009. Our congratulations to the finalists and winners, and our sincerest thanks to all who participated. Special thanks also to our guest judge James Brown. His insight and ear for the craft of storytelling helped make a difficult process easier, and we very much appreciate having had the opportunity to work with him. We invite you to read our note of special thanks by clicking here.

Your Friends in Art,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Love to Reject You, Baby

I found these rejections on the web posted by Tim Love. They reminded me of something. Give some writers an inch of encouragement and they will go the full mile.  (Self included.)  Alas.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Kountry 'Tis of Thee

It's like there just isn't a room at the hotel Kalifornia for your work.  (What a nice surprise, bring your alibis.)  My favorite line of the song? "Although we're not accepting your submission, we're honored to have received it..." (They stab with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast.)

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Here is a twist on the old rejection. The author Stephen King will not be participating in in the 2009 Pep Talk for Nationa Novel Writing Month.  He filled out the NaNoWriMo form (click image above to enlarge), which NaNo supplied. The fact that he went for an easy "No thanks," is really their own fault for making it an option.  Here's what the NaNo's say about it:  "[King] may have said 'no' to our request for pep, but we believe that Stephen King himself touched this piece of paper. It now hangs directly between the "Things To Think About" and "Things That Rock Our World" sections of our office bulletin board. While it does not rock our world that he declined to contribute his wisdom and encouragement to NaNoWriMo 2009, it distinctly does rock to have something—anything—that has touched the hand of Stephen King." I have to agree that sometimes it is at least more interesting to be rejected by someone famous.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fiction Villian

An LROD reader writes that s/he was accepted at Fictionville, Yay!  But five minutes after sending in a picture and bio, the fickle editor of the journal "changed his mind." The editor claimed it had nothing to do with the photo and bio, but with the story. Says the writer: "I ain't even that bad looking."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Pinch Me, I'm Sending More

Looks like they spent some dough on an art director to ease the pain.  I also like the plea at the bottom to send more, but just a pinch....

Monday, June 8, 2009

New York Book Expo: "Books are Hard to Sell"

It's easy to find Book Expo reports lamenting the death of books, the loss of publishing glamor, and tanking book sales. Just do a google search of the word "despair."  My favorite quote comes from a  New York Magazine article, as follows: "That seems silly, not to take even a small booth,” said Grove Atlantic head Morgan Entrekin, standing in front of his tiny one-table berth — the same as last year. He and other indie publishers found themselves in the odd position of wise and stable elders, people accustomed to lean times and less prone to making sudden moves in response to huge market forces. In good times and bad, said Entrekin, "It's hard as shit to sell books."
*Photo is a giant inflatable sculpture by Paul McCarthy, entitled "Complex Shit." And he ain't whistling Dixie.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Teach Me to Breathe and to Write

For your edification, the link takes you to an article by Louis Menand entitled Show or Tell: Should Creative Writing Be Taught?  I guess it begs the question of the month.  Should it?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Your Rejection Made Me Snap

Over at BookEnds, Blagent Jessica is pondering why some rejected writers respond in anger to her rejections.  This site really cracks me up.  I love the characterization of writers as either newbies or frustrated/end-of-rope authors, or arrogant writers. I particularly like the idea that the sharing of angry reactions to rejection letters might "add an astonished smile to my day."

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Your Squiggle Means the World to Me

Here's an MQR rejection from an anonymous LROD reader, who says, "Apparently I succeeded in sending the right kind of material!"  At least there's that.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

More Work Books Needed?

This was an interesting article about writers and work, though as with most things in the Boston Globe, I don't totally agree with the premise about a dearth of literary work themes.  Alain d' Botton misses the beauty of Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to The End.  He writes, "When a new writer like Joshua Ferris does finally devote a novel to tracking the antics inside a corporation the critical reaction is peculiar and telling: He attracts renown and praise for his courage in telling the fresh and entirely unexpected subject matter of going to the office."   I think in truth Ferris attracts renown and praise for writing an original novel brilliantly. Or maybe d'Botton is merely drumming up business and doing the good work of promoting a new book. Whatever the case, I did like the photo with the article, so I borrowed it.  

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hate Hate/Hate Books

By all means, Kanye West, don't read a book when you can write one (sort of).  The co-author of Thank You and You're Welcome ("52 pages -- some blank, others with just a few words -- and offers his optimistic philosophy on life. One two-page section reads, "Life is 5% what happens and 95% how you react!" Another page reads "I hate the word hate!"), has this to say: "Sometimes people write novels and they just be so wordy and so self-absorbed," West said. "I am not a fan of books. I would never want a book's autograph."

I'm surprised he's self-publishing, but I guess none of the houses picked it up for a few cool mill.  Maybe it's a sign that things are changing.