My Oh My!
I've been following the online battles and discussions centered around the controversial #queryfail that was born on Twitter. Now comes #agentfail, where the courageous (foolish?)ladies of Bookends, LLC gave writers a chance to fire back. Holey Moley! I still haven't read all 300 comments (I had to take a break at 220-something and I doubt I'll go back) but it's clear there are a lot of very frustrated writers out there. (Check out Nathan Bransford's blog for some other links and agent commentary on this.)
As a veteran of rejection and someone who has had three agents so far in my career, I have to say that I do agree with some of the comments. I find the whole "no-response-means-no" thing irritating. It strikes me as a power-lauding, unprofessional thing to do. Reject me as succinctly, quickly, and rudely as you want, but at least do me the courtesy of some response.
With that said, my agent relationships and agent correspondences have been very good, almost always amiable and professional (I don't query the no-response agents). I have a pretty bulky rejection file and in there I do have one hand-written note that was scribbled on my query letter and sent back to me telling me not to quit my day job. But to be honest, I LOVE that rejection because it was for the novel that got me my first agent. And that agent sold the novel in a matter of weeks as part of a two-book deal. So that rejection reinforces two beliefs for me: 1) it's important to believe in myself and 2) rejection shouldn't be taken personally.
I find myself agreeing with Writer Beware's Victoria Strauss who made this comment: "For some writers, unable to snag an agent's interest, outrage becomes a substitute form of validation."
More and more I see writers who can't get an agent and/or who can't get published blaming everything but the quality of their writing for this state of affairs. I went on a rant this weekend about this very topic here on Absolute Write and fully expect to get blasted for it. But that's okay. I have my bulletproof undies on so fire away.