Sunday, April 05, 2009

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.


At 7:02 AM, Blogger G. Coppard said...

Hey Beth. I didn't know your name on the other blog, so couldn't find your comments on quality of work, but I know you well enough to know that I'm with you.

I went through about six months on Lulu where I looked for peers to discuss the industry, our work and what we could do to make it better.

You might guess that NOT A SINGLE PERSON wanted to talk about improving their work. They all figured it was good enough and someone (me particularly) should buy it. This was without exception.

And with only a couple of exceptions, the writing was terrible...

I have to blame, a bit, the how-to-write books. S.K.'s On Writing is an exception because it tells the truth. But most are at best useless and at worst encouraging anyone and everyone that anyone and everyone can write... which is simply not the case.

I'm not brilliant, by any stretch. But I can spin a decent tale. More importantly I recognize when a decent tale has been spun and why.

Sorry, Beth, this drives me nuts as well... can you tell?


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