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Monday, August 31, 2009

The Query: Queer-Eyed

I sigh for the queer query letter, that strange beast. So much is made of very much. Here is Jane Friedman's take on its 5 essential elements. (Remember the other Jane Friedman? She got fired from her position as CEO of HarperCollins and is starting an eBook enterprise.) Anyway, for the query, it goes like this: (1) personalization, (2) hook, (3) bio, (4) basic info, (5) opening/closing. Sounds reasonable....zzzzzzzzz

Friday, August 28, 2009

Same Old, Same Old

How many years have they been talking about "today's extremely competitive market"? Now it's just dead. Funny how this is precisely the moment I finally finish my own novel. (Ta-da, silence.)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Who Loves to Love You, Baby?

All right, all you anonymice, here's one more rejection from me. I've got the novel out with one more agent and also an editor at a small publishing house (most likely a no-go). So, I think I am drawing to the close of this particular push toward my dream. I feel a little sheepish about this statement. And I hate to be contrary to the philosophy of "The Secret," but I'm forced to be a realist. I'm going to give it a rest for awhile after the final rejections come in, and start on something new. Or not. Whatever. I'm a wee depressed at the moment, so nothing feels very interesting. Maybe, a nap.

Anyway, here's the latest:

Dear Writer, Rejected

I would have loved to have loved this novel.

But I just didn't fall for the voice as much as I need to in these parlous fiction times. I hope one of the other readers is eager to represent the book. I've been wrong so many times on what might sell--countless. And I'd bet you can count on my being wrong on this one.

I do wish you great good success with the book.

Best, Agenty McAgent

p.s. Parlous--really? Didn't that word go out with Henry VIII?

Don't Shoot Your Web

What I wouldn't give to have Spidey on the corner of my next rejection. Speaking of...I'm pretty sure I've got three new ones on the way. Just a feeling. I've had a bad. I'm going to have to figure out how to let go and get going on the next project. Not easy, I fear. Not easy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Really -- Bed Bugs?

So, did you hear about the infestation at Penguin Group? Talk about a plague upon your (publishing) house. It makes you wonder what's next, doesn't it? Boils, Frogs, more Fake Memoirs.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Glad You Survived...But Your Work is Not Suitable

Let's say you survive 18 months in Auschwitz, as a teenager, and afterward, your girlfriend urges you to send an excerpt from the memoir you've written of your incredible life to the Saturday Evening Post and Harper's...and they reject you. I mean, crap-on-a-cracker, publish the guy. Am I wrong? Anyway, Pierre Berg got with a writer and published this book, so it worked out in the end. I am hopeful that it always does, but I'll let you know.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Had To Use the Rest Room

I was in a Barnes & Noble this evening after watching that movie Julie & Julia -- you know, the one about publishing -- and I noticed that all the posters for book signings and readings were for celebrity authors. (Seriously, Juliette Binoche, Wallace Shawn, and Daryl Hannah.) It's just so distressing. I don't tend to stop into big bookstore chains anymore...they make my skin crawl and they dash my hopes to the ground every time. It's kind of like believing that if you write a good book, it will get published, only to learn that it's just too late for you. And yet, there it was in living color, 4 stories of shelves jam-packed with other people's books for sale. Honestly, sometimes I just don't get it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Not What The 5th Wall Wants

There was no explanation with this rejection letter, but I believe The 5th Wall sent back writer Elaine Hatfield's query letter with the following notations to indicate they were not going to publish her short story.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Luck With Your Next

Here's one from Merwin circa 1949. Love the old ones; makes me feel part of a venerable tradition.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

There Is Always a Cost, Dear One

“The birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the author”
- Roland Barthes

True? Is this why it sometimes feels terrible to let a book go on the shelves? Discuss.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Does This Make You Feel Any Better?

Staff writer Robert J. Hughes wrote an article called "Randomness and Rejection," in the WSJ, explaining how a chapter in Leonard Mlodinow's book The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives describes a number of big-time writers whose early works were, at first, rejected by publishers. "Many books destined for great success had to survive not just rejection, but repeated rejection," Mr. Mlodinow writes. "There exists a vast gulf of randomness and uncertainty between the creation of a great novel...and the presence of huge stacks of that the front of thousands of retail outlets."

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Rejection Code

Author Brian Falkner wrote this funny rejection and presented it at a bookrapt seminar talk entitled "Birth of a Novel--Rejection -- Redemption -- and the Road to The Long White Cloud" in 2007. Writes Bookrapt: "Brian's first attempt at becoming a published writer was with a children's book. It was rejected.His second attempt was a psychological thriller. It was rejected. His third attempt was a short story. It was rejected. His fourth attempt was a play. It was rejected. His fifth attempt was a screenplay for Shortland Street. It was rejected (before it was even written). His sixth attempt was a romance novel. It was rejected. His seventh attempt was a screenplay for the NZ Film Commission. It was rejected. His eighth attempt was a screenplay for a James Bond movie. It was rejected. And he was threatened with legal action for using the James Bond character. His ninth attempt was a novel for young adults. Scholastic rejected it. Harper Collins rejected it with a full page letter telling him how appalling they thought it was. Mallinson Rendel LOVED IT!!!"

Friday, August 14, 2009

In Case You're Sick of It

Not that I'm promoting, but I have to say, it's an apt banner ad. These guys should advertise on LROD, right?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Let's Use The Wayback Machine, Mr. Peabody

Here's a good one from our friend James Viscosi, who has the good manners to post his rejections, and allow me to say something witty and clever about them at LROD. Unfortunately, this one is so uninspiring that nothing comes to mind. Hop over there, though, to see what James himself has to say about this rejection; it's entertaining.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It's All About The Title, Dummy

Got this secret missive in the email yesterday: "My friend has an article in next month's Writers Digest. Turns out that your friend, appel, has a snippet in the next Writers Digest as well. It's called "The Art of Entitlement" wherein he claims that the trick to selling stories is clever titles, no more, no less. Figures." Well, that's advice of a different stripe, isn't it? Would that literary success were so easy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What Would Jesus Do? (Not Reject You Like This)

Since we've been taking a stroll down memory lane, remember Eyeshot? This dude keeps a running tally of rejections that's totally worth checking out on a regular basis. Amazing. Here are my two faves (the others are pretty asinine, which I mean in the best possible sense):

1) Sorry for the spareness of the reply, but plagiarists get less than special consideration.

2) It's all intuition. And the "aura" of this one is like sort of a freckly yellow, which reminds me of bananas, which doesn't make me want to post it. That's a really terrible critique, I realize.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fugue You, Booty

Remember these charmers? Anyway, I'm in a fugue myself this Monday morning. Traveling and groggy and preparing for a very sweaty day. I can report, though, that two more agents are reading my novel at the moment. These two came via two contact, as I find myself no longer too proud to ask for help. Maybe that's good. Maybe it's a sign that I'm sinking.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Man's Fitness to Inhabit the Universe--So Overdone!

I love this rejection from 1953. "There's nothing wrong with your writing" seems like a pretty great opening line. Also, the letterhead is super confusing, isn't it? If Worlds of Science Fiction...doesn't make sense, does it? Try again, by all means.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Where's The "Unsend" Button?

In an article about accidental emailing by J Samia Mair in the Baltimore Muslim Examiner, the author admits this chilling blunder: "Many years ago, I forwarded my husband a rejection email from a literary agent. He sent me a conciliatory email—a very short reply consisting of one, not-so-flattering word describing the agent. The problem was that instead of sending the email to me, he sent it to the agent. His blunder was only discovered by her reply to him. Oops! Let’s cross out that agency for all future queries." Anything similar ever happen to you?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Everyone's Touchy About Reprints Now*

So, a few days ago I posted a link and excerpt to a fun article by Mary J Dresser that offered quite a pep talk concerning rejections.  Ms. Dresser posted a comment to dress me down about my using an excerpt of her article without permission.  Whereas I thought this was pretty common practice among bloggers, and often seen as a good thing (you want other bloggers to link to your blog because it increases your readership; it's like free publicity), the New York Times ran this news piece about the A.P. cracking down on the "unpaid use of articles on the web."  So the comment from the unauthorized author is very timely. (By the way, I did ask for permission and it was granted, so we are cool on that point.) At the risk of seeming cheeky and for those of you without a subscription to read the article in full, here's an excerpt from the the New York Times article: "Executives at newspapers and other traditional news organizations have long complained about how some sites make money from their work, putting ads on pages with excerpts from articles and links to the sources of the articles. Another complaint is that a link to an article sometimes leads to another secondhand user, not the original source, which can deprive the creator of some of the audience for its own site and the ads on it. Some less-well-known sites reprint articles outright, or large parts of them, without permission, a clearer copyright violation. But there is little consensus on how extensive that problem is for news organizations."  I liked it better when everyone was for the freedom of not charging people for information on the web. It just seemed friendlier back then.

*DISCLAIMER: Big Bird is not really dead. I don't want to get in trouble with Sesame Street; I just liked the cartoon.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Think Small

It's like I always say: the smaller the better.  Wouldn't it be cool to receive a rejection on the postage stamp of a blank postcard?  

Monday, August 3, 2009

Can't Really Bear It

What's that little Five Points bear carrying?  A dead turtle?  Does that symbolize the death of my publishing dreams? And why is the font on their website so small? Just wondering.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Can't Catch A Break

I don't know. I've heard that a lot of writers are putting their projects on the shelf and waiting until the book market does something else because apparently no one is buying very much of anything. So, I'm thinking about putting it on the shelf and starting a new book. What do you think, people? Here's the latest rejection: "It's with some regret that I write to say that I won't be taking on [your novel's] representation. You are a really talented writer and there are some gorgeous moments in the book. But with the market for fiction as incredibly tough as it is right now, I just can't represent anything that I'm not wildly passionate about. I liked your novel very much, but I didn't love it and it didn't resonate with me on a deep level. I truly believe that you will find someone who will click with it in just the right way; you're such a good writer and you have an interesting, quirky, distinctive story to tell. Best best best of luck and warm regards...rejecting agent"

Saturday, August 1, 2009

A Book About...Nothing

So, how do you suppose Melanie Gideon, the Jerry Seinfeld of memoirs, here, got Jordin Pavlin at Knopf, who will not give most writers the time of day, to publish her book?  "Dear Ms. Pavlin:  I'm sending you my book, which is about ennui $150.00 hair cuts, and a happy marriage.  It's called The Slippery Year: A Meditation in Happily Ever After."  Not only did Pavlin take the book, but she helped restructure it into something viable. And they call things quiet these days to discourage publication. I don't get it. Or maybe I'm just jealous (of Gideon's magically happy life and bubbly sense of humor about it), which is not very generous, is it?  The reality is: some of us get shit (abuse in childhood, disinheritance in adulthood, inability to get published) and some of us are Melanie Gideon.