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Friday, October 30, 2009

In Case You Didn't Know

Janet Reid is cluing in the clueless over at her blog.  Here's a highlight answering why  editors write nice rejections:
     Publishers are not stupid. They are large companies with products to sell to consumers and the last thing, the LAST thing, they want to do is make consumers angry and unwilling to buy as in "oh those beasts at LaDeDah Publishers were so rude, I'll never buy one of their books again."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Maybe My Novel Not Being Published Stopped A Tsunami

Not to get all woo-woo on your ass, or anything, but here's a quote from Rumi. Let's try to make it work:

"Don't grieve for what doesn't come.
Some things that don't happen
Keep disasters from happening."

We're On A Philosophical Roll Now

"Look deep, deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better." --Albert Einstein

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Four Down & Three to Go

Dear Writer-Reject,
    Sorry for a bit of a delay in getting back to you – what with some business travels, etc. I’ve fallen behind. Much as I wanted to fall in love with your novel – I think the characters are very well drawn and the setting is compelling – I’m afraid I never got to the place I need to be to take on a work of fiction. This is utterly subjective and absolutely not a reflection of your talent which is plentiful. So, I’m afraid I must stand aside knowing you’ll find the passionate representation you deserve.
    I look forward to reading the reviews of [Title] when it comes out. 
Best, Decent Guy of An Agent

     Tomorrow Saturn finally leaves my sun sign, which means the last two years of hell will come to a close. Supposedly, now, I've learned all the big life-lessons I need because I'll be dead and buried by the time that big hot mass of gas comes back around. Here's what I learned: 1) To accept reality and separate it from fantasy, aspiration, and desire, 2) To check my ego at the door, 3) that I'm not in control, 4) That everything I have is a miracle and I should be grateful for everyone in my life, 5) That I am more than what my (suddenly deceased) father thought of me, 6) To trust in myself and listen to my own voice, and to be honest with myself, 7) That if I do not publish this novel, it will not be the end of the world, 8) That life is long and humbling, 9) That whatever the journey, it's worth taking, 10) That I will probably keep writing pretty much no matter what, but that does not guarantee success...unless, of course, that is the definition of success. (Hard to tell.)
     They say Saturn leaves a nice big gift when it departs your sun sign, kind of like a prize for all the grueling work you've had to do.  I'll let you know what it is when it gets here: an iPhone would be nice.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Four-Inch Disinvitation

SpryWriter (AKA Jack King, author of suspense) is in the business of listing literary agents.  See his page here, featuring the above weird rejection, which seems more like an engraved invitation, doesn't it?  Also, never heard of her.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Free Books, Free Minds

Ever heard of Concord Free Press?  Tagline:  Free their books and their minds will follow.  These guys give books away for free, and  encourage you to donate to a charity of your choice instead.  The press has a new anthology forthcoming with a submission call for writing on money.  So, there's a new publishing, right?  I mean, since everyone's looking for how to make books work again.  Kind of the opposite of what the industry is doing, but cool anyway.  Check it out.  (Post via GalleyCat.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

What is Better than Wisdoom? Woman. And What is Better than a Good Woman? Nothing

This link and post is not exactly related to rejection, except for the sentence that reads:
Perhaps because these new ideas originated with a grandmother who had spent half her life as a homemaker, or perhaps because they challenge critical tradition, they have met with skepticism and rejection from many in the literary establishment, with a few exceptions. But Cullen, who holds a master's degree, is intently serious about her concern that Chaucer and his works will soon be relegated to the backwaters of academia.
Anyway, I love Chaucer, and I think it's a sweet, if rather Catholic, story.  When's the last time you read Canterbury Tales? Father of English Poetry, and all.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Here's My Advice: Don't Do It

GalleyCat offers this little ditty about breaking up with your agent.
Break ups are messy, whether you're dealing with marriage break ups or business relationships. Such is the case with an agent-writer relationship. Somehow something went awry, the writer and agent were not on the same page, the writer had unrealistic expectations or perhaps the agent simply wanted to grab the writer before anyone else did and then sat on the writer to squash the competition from their existing client (rare, but it does happen).
Having done it more than once (with regrets to this day), I say why not just emulate my parents, who stayed together for 58 years despite the misery?  It's much more economically advantageous.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cool New Website: Lit Drift

Lit Drift is dedicated to the art and craft of fiction in the 21st Century, which is encouraging because I have been tempted, as you know, to think fiction is long buried.  Well, folks, it has risen from the dead. You will find editorial content, calls for submission, daily creative prompts, short stories and Free Book Friday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Dear Tina Brown: May I Please Have A Job?

According to Motoko Rich of the New York Times, Tina Brown will "speed up book publishing" by joining her Daily Beast with Perseus Book Group in order to expedite the publishing of titles by Daily Beast Writers.  Good for you, Sister.  Here's her idea according to the article:
On a typical publishing schedule, a writer may take a year or more to deliver a manuscript, after which the publisher takes another nine months to a year to put finished books in stores. At Beast Books, writers would be expected to spend one to three months writing a book, and the publisher would take another month to produce an e-book edition.
That ought to shake things up.  At least someone has a plan, right?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Waiting For A New Profit Model

I went to a party last night where there were several writers.  One had a novel published and was being heavily leaned upon by her agent to write a nonfiction book, so that she could get an advance and not have to take a waitressing job. Another very established couple, each with several well-known novels under their belts, are reportedly having as much trouble as I am getting their new novels accepted. Finally, after much shopping and crying and shopping, one of them was able to get Penguin to take the new novel. She has an excellent agent obviously.  After awhile the party felt like a funeral: books are dead.
     Anyway, in tribute to all of these fine writers (and so many more), I thought I'd post this funny video, which may soon be pretty directly applicable to books.  Do you think online books and electronic book readers will replace the actual objects as has happened pretty much with newspapers?  Is that what's happening?
    Before answering, consider this article.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Two Down and Four to Go

This rejection came in sounding nothing like the agent's earlier charmingly old-fashioned correspondence, suggesting, probably, that it was written by his assistant or a reader/screener:

Dear Writer Rejected,
    Thank you for sending me [title of novel]. I enjoyed reading the work and I thought that there were moments of beauty and poetry in it, particularly the scene [describes something minor that happens in one sentence occurring before page 30], but I'm sorry to say that in these tough times for publishing I think it would be difficult to find a publisher who would make an offer for it. The writing is quite poetic but I felt that the narrative could use more by the way of...linear progression....
    I'm sorry not to be able to get back to you with better news but I really did enjoy reading it and needless to say, I would be glad to look at more of your work in the future. I wish you the best of luck with the novel.
    Name of Big-Time Charming Gentleman Agent

I am working on a new project by the if none of this pans out, I will probably just move forward on that.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Problem Continues AFTER You Get the Agent

I never had the problem of unreturned phone calls with any of my agents, but I have a friend whose agent NEVER calls him back.  NEVER.  What would you do with that?  Anyway, perhaps we will get some enlightenment from this GalleyCat series "Why Agents Don't Return Calls: Part 1."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

One Down & Five To Go

Dear Writer Rejected:

I finished the pages of [Title of Novel] while I was out these past few days. It’s certainly oddly different from anything out there right now, and honestly I think it was a bit off beat for me....I never really got swept into the pages as I was expecting to be especially with the central idea of the [description of central idea]. I really believe this is not for me so I’m going to pass on the project. Thank you so much for sharing the pages with me and I am sure someone else will feel differently and will gravitate to the characters and narrative of your literary novel.

Very warm regards,
Agent with a Biblical name

I knew this guy wasn't going to like my novel.  I'd read some stuff he'd written on a blog, and I could tell that he liked pretty formulaic happy stuff, and my novel is waaaay out there.  I sent it to him on the recommendation of the guy who's been selling me glasses for the last 10 years.  In other words, what I had in common with this agent is fabulous eyewear.  Guess, he didn't see things my way, way is twisted and a weird. Anyway, I've got the novel out with 5 other agents right now, so please keep your fingers crossed for me, and please say a prayer to the literary gods, if you believe in them, and please send me good vibes.  I'm obviously going to need them.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Write YOUR Own First Novel...I'm Tired

Caroline Hagood, self-proclaimed blog maniac, wrote an article over at mediabistro entitled, Why You Should Write That First Novel. Here's a highlight: "The worst that will happen is that your novel will be forced to endure the writer’s spring cleaning, taking up residence in the sock drawer with the sobering knowledge that the socks are more likely to get a publishing contract. Just remember the old adage that the first novel is meant to function as a sort of lubrication for the next tome to come shooting out of the writing mind." I don't know about you, but my first novel kicked my ass....

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rejections Like Crack Cocaine

Oh, sure! Now everyone else is doing it too!  Now it's edgy and trendy.  Just kidding, I think it's kind of cool that Carr shared this.  I remember when Bob Gottlieb was at the New Yorker.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Please Don't Get My Hopes Up With Your Exclamation Marks

Why do they write to let you know they are currently reading your novel? Is it to get you excited and make you think that they wouldn't waste time writing you with the update unless they are loving the manuscript? Why do I always conclude that it means they are mere hours away from writing back with good, good news?  In the last two months, I've received three such perky little messages followed rejection or radio silence, as such:

1) Editor in June: I am reading now and will be able to weigh in very soon! Thanks for your patience--more soon!"  Three exclamation points.  Now that's just cruel in light of the fact that exactly nine days later, she wrote "Thanks for your patience...I'm sorry it's not for me!"

2) Agent yesterday: "I'm reading this now--I'm still on jury duty so it's a bit hectic--I'll be back to you next week."  This one was followed up one day later with, "It's a bit too offbeat for me."

3) Agent who has had the manuscript since August: "I'm still reading your novel, but will be in touch soon about it."  That message came on September 3rd....still no word.

Don't you think it would be better if they just waited to get to the end of the manuscript (or to the page they decide to stop on) and tell you no thanks?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Violence Never Pays, Friends

I thought this cartoon was slightly cute, though unrealistic.  The stab of the paper rejection only works one way.  Anyway, don't try this at home.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Multiples...And I Don't Mean Orgasms

Speaking of Oregon, writer David Michael Slater, who boasts 9 published books, including picture, young adult, middle school novel, adult short story collection, adult novel, among other, has a word or two on rejection in this article.  Here's a nice highlight:

And so one duly submits. But soon enough that seldom-heard mathematical voice muses from its long abandoned brainfold: Hmmm. Six months response time. So…hmm…we could submit this to…let’s see…two places a year. In ten years, we could have twenty readings! As a good, decent and patriotic citizen, one tries not to hear this number-crunching, statgeek voice, but it makes a compelling point in the end. And so I will admit to having started to slip the odd extra submission out, together-like. Just two or three per round. At first.
Dude, I always submit simultaneously, and always tell people that's what I'm doing. It makes people a little skittish, but ultimately, it's the only sane way to get the work out there and eventually (one hopes) into the world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Or You Could Make Some Art

Artist Dan Senn made this clever installation piece with his rejections: it involves his actual rejection letters being hung from the ceiling and read by broadcasted robot voices in an ever-changing algorithm where 1-3 letters are heard at any given time.
Seriously?  Only in Portland.  Go Oregon!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

You Don't Say

Famous Lit Blogger, Maud Newton, won this year's prize from the famous Literary Rag, Narrative Magazine.  You can read Maud's story here (if you want to log in, sign up and give them all your vitals).  If not, here's the opening of the story, entitled, When the Flock Changed:
    MY MOTHER WAS a preacher until the cops shut her down. Well, okay, she kept at it halfheartedly in our living room for a while, but the fire had wiped out not just her warehouse church and the halfway house she ran out of it, but her passion, her commitment, and maybe even, deep down, her belief. 
Congratulations, Maude.  I don't know you, but I like your glasses.

Friday, October 2, 2009

How It All Shook Down

So, remember  the most recent agent who rejected my novel, but wanted to read my other manuscripts? (Go way back to the day before yesterday.) After polling you guys, I thought it over and wrote her back to ask more specifically what her proposal would entail.  Her response was as follows: "it depends what's going on with your novel. If you find representation by someone who wants to represent all your interests, that would of course be ideal for you. I know I'd be interesting in reading the memoir/ short story collection." 
    I wrote back and thanked her for wanting to read more.  I told her that I'd like to see what happens with the other agents, one of whom may snatch up my novel with all my other work, or all of whom may pass on it and agree with her assessment that the novel is not ready, in which case, if she were game, I wanted to come back and show her my other work.  I asked if she was cool with waiting a few weeks.  Her answer: "Of course. Good luck!"  
    I don't know why this is true, but I think I might not have put her off if she lived and worked in New York City. I guess I have a regional bias.  But maybe folks can chime in here.  Do you have an agent who lives in Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Boston, somewhere other than Manhattan?  If so, how's that working for you?