Thursday, September 20, 2007

What Do You Mean, You Don't Like It? It's FABULOUS!

Maven Lacey KayeDear Author,

I wish I could give you encouraging words regarding your chances of ever receiving representation from Delightful Agents Are Us. However, despite your thorough research and perfect targeting of Exactly the Right Agent For You, your project is simply not right for us and never, ever will be. Please lose our address and never call or write again.

And be very, very glad this is not a form letter. You were so incredibly wrong for us, we decided to take the time out and personally reject you. You may not be so lucky in the future.

Think this letter is complete fiction? Think again! The only thing delightful about Delightful Agents turned out to be the amount of time I spent howling with laughter over their Please, for the love of GOD never submit anything like this to us again tone.

Yeah, so I exaggerated a bit. Not much, though. I wish I could share the real deal. Despite the stabbing pain this letter caused when I first read it, though, the truth is, they had the right of it. It really turned out to be a letter to treasure. When you spend the following eight weeks praying you never see another form letter stuffed into yet another self-addressed stamped envelope you never wanted to see again when you sent it out in the first place (pause to breathe), you start falling in love with the ones that at least gave you a hint of why you were rejected at all.

It will probably happen to you.

My advice? Laugh. Cry. Rant. Rave. Call your mother or your girlfriend or your CP and pick apart every single word until you're sure the agent (or intern!) meant to slice you down to your manicured little author toes and serve you up on a platter to that nasty, barky dog your neighbor makes sure to leave outside at three a.m. And then get a really big margarita and drown yourself in it.

Or don't. Whatever works for you, so long as the third thing you do is print out the next submission packet and send it on its merry way. Because I'm pretty sure, and don't quote me on this, but I'm pretty sure the only way for you to get your manuscript published is to actually send it out. To my knowledge, even the e-publishers don't hack into your laptop and suck all the manuscripty goodness out to be published on their sites. You have to actually get your manuscript out of your computer and into the hands of capable people before anything approaching Instant Fame can befall you.

Unless you *like* to torture yourself, wondering if you'll ever, ever be discovered. It's not my crazy brain suffering. Knock yourself out.

I showed you mine, now you show me yours! Post an exaggeration of your worst rejection letter, or tell us imaginary one the one that strikes fear into your heaving bosom. Then come back tomorrow, when a special guest shares what happens when they actually *like* your manuscript.



B.E. Sanderson said...

even the e-publishers don't hack into your laptop and suck all the manuscripty goodness out

ROFL. Damn. No wonder.

Worst rejection letter:

"Your premise is beyond plausable*. Maybe you should think about writing non-fiction instead. Your preface tells me you can write, but not fiction... After all, most fiction that gets published is from people who already are published, and since you have little chance of that ever happening, I'd give it up if I were you. Let me know if you decide to take up non-fiction and I might be able to find a market for you. Otherwise, leave me alone."

*actual spelling error received in a rejection letter

Of course, the above is just the rejection letter boiled into what the agent really meant, but you get the gist.

Thanks, Lacy. That was fun and cathartic. ;o)

ERiCA said...

I'll be back later once I've had a chance to look through old rejection letters (and throw myself upon my bayonet a time or two) but here's my made-up, worst-case editor rejection letter (which I imagine I will see versions of once my MS is shopped in NYC):

Unfortunately, your agent sent us a copy of your "funny", "sexy", "paranormal" "romance" and we actually received it. I'm pretty sure we thought there was actual pizza in the pizza box or we'd never have opened it.

Britney Spears latest stage antics were sexier than the slop you call prose, and as for funny? Our dear prez Dubya tells better jokes. The only thing paranormal about your writing is how you ever managed to snooker an agent in the first place. The pages are currently romancing our basement toilet bowl.

You have the weakest prose. Goodbye.

Carrie said...

I liked the Dear Author rejection that came on a piece of paper that had been cut to fit in the envelope. I understand the efficiency, but at least get a paper cutter to make it a rectangle!

I also got a "not right for me" type rejection written on my query letter and sent back to me.

The one that got me the most was the one where the asked for the full and then wrote back with a dear author to tell me that they just didn't have to to read it. I wanted to scream that they'd gotten my hopes up for nothing and why ask for pages if you didn't have time to read it.

The oddest rejection I just got last week. It started: "I couldn’t put this down— the story is completely compelling, and [your protagonist] so fully drawn. I love the storyline and the myths you have created here."

Um... tell me again why you don't want it?

Now I have to start worrying about publisher rejections! Eep!!

Kendra said...

Hmmm. I'll go through my stack when I get home. One writer in our chapter got her SASE returned, EMPTY, with a scribbled rejection sentence on the back of the envelope.

Two years ago, an agent returned a query letter from my first MS that said "Not for me. Though the writing shows promise." I floated on that little sentence of encouragement for months. After so many form rejections a little positive comment goes a long way.

Jacqueline Barbour said...

I've done so little querying, I've only ever managed to receive the form rejection letter sort of response.

Though that was horrifying in its own way. Why? Why is it "not right for you" at this time? How can you know when you haven't even read it? Why do you hate me?

Completely irrational, I know, but who said writers were rational?

Celeste said...

I haven't had the pleasure yet of receiving a stamped "no" or a stunningly written rejection letter yet. It's just been the nice let-down after a read kind or the lovely Dear Author variety. But I'm determined that I will decoupage my guest bathroom with rejection letters one day. And I hope there's at least one fun one in there that I can laugh at.

lacey kaye said...

You guys are cracking me up! Keep 'em coming.

(Anyone see Bill today?)

Jennifer Linforth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jennifer Linforth said...

My worst rejection letter did not have anything negative to say about my manuscript, but was the worse because of the agents lack of attention to detail. The letter read:

Dear Jennifer:

Thank for allowing me to read TITLE OF BOOK. While I.. yadda yadda.

I know agents are busy and they have assistants who probably generate these letters and shove them under their nose to sign, but this is a major mistake. More so when this agent goes out of her way on her blog to tell writers to pay attention to details.

It made me question if I want to submit to her again. If she missed that, what might she miss on a contract?


Tessa Dare said...

My worst and best rejection letter was one of the first I got, and it came from an agent who had the full. It basically said, your writing and characters are charming, but your plot sucks.

After I heard variations on that theme from about five more people, her point did eventually sink in. I overhauled half my book. And now it's awaiting editor rejections...

Manuscript Mavens

Manuscript Mavens