Monday, August 18, 2008

Resist the urge to say 'neener neener'

Today I received an email that, on the face of it, was a polite statement the author had secured representation and a publisher. I get those fairly regularly. No problem, right? Just being polite, right?

Well, no.

This author in question wasn't in my fulls t0 be read file, or my partials to be read pile, or my queries pending pile, or even in my "sent back for revisions, changes, suggestions, polishing; watch for next email" file.

No. This author was in the form rejection file. From July. And not just once, twice.

I looked him up, just to make sure I wasn't reading a full or a partial or expecting anything. Nope, form rejection. Twice.

Most likely this author thinks he's just being prudent to email all the agents he queried just in case any of them are still holding on to his query. That's what it looks like from his side of the conversation.

From my side it looks a bit different. It looks like "neener neener, you rejected me and I found an agent and a publisher."

Well, I'm pretty tough, I can live with it but it's not my favorite kind of email to get on a Monday morning. And frankly I'm touchy about this stuff. Maybe overly touchy. But I figure I upheld my side of the bargain. I responded to the email query. I responded to the same one twice, even though it was clear this guy hadn't figured out that all those Janet@'s were the same person. I didn't breath fire and fury and I didn't just ignore him.

As far as I'm concerned that's pretty much the end of any emails about this particular project. I don't want to know if you got an agent or a deal. I don't want to know anything more about your book at all. If I did, I'd have said something in one of the emails I sent back.

And here's the other part of the equation. The not-nice part. I remember these emails. And now every time I see the author's name, and the title of the book this is what I remember. Not that I sent a form rejection. Not even that I sent it twice. Nope, I remember "neener neener." And that's NOT how you want to be remembered, is it?

But let's hear from you on this:


Kel-Bell said...

Nope. No Nenner-neener for me thanks.

I prefer Smelly Kelley with Jelly in her Belly.

It's much more professional.

Merry Monteleone said...

Just to play devil's advocate - is it possible that he/she didn't get the e-jections?

I know I queried an agent that didn't respond and then I queried from another email account to be sure they got it - I've heard from other authors that this particular agent always responds and usually fast... so I don't know what happened there, but as all of my info. was included I left him in the open list but kind of figure it's a 'no'.

But, when I do have an offer of representation, I thought the first thing to do would be to send a quick, polite follow up to outstanding agents with queries, letting them know the status...and as he's still in the open file, I can totally see sending one that way without thinking about it.

So, I'm just wondering if maybe this author missed your ejections and sent you a follow up to be on the safe side - in case you still had him in in your query pile and ran across his deal on publishers' marketplace or something...

Chumplet said...

I was kinda afraid to answer this one, but I agree with Merry. When I sold my first novel, I sent a brief message to the agents on my database that hadn't responded to my queries, just in case the partial or query was sitting in their pending pile.

sylvia said...

I track responses but I suspect a lot of people don't. It'd be very easy to make list of people to submit to and start sending off - especially as multiple submissions are becoming more acceptable.

So I think it's likely that he simply mailed everyone on his list to say "it's off the market" - and maybe also a little bit to say "see, I'm good!"

It's disorganised (but so was querying you twice) and thoughtless, yes.

But I think it's much less likely that he has you marked down as sending a rejection and sent you the notification to make a point. No neener in my opinion.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I'm hoping either that Merry is right--perhaps your email even got caught in his spam filter for some reason and he didn't check it--or that this author just didn't think/research enough and sent his announcement to every agent he's ever queried. I can imagine why getting that kind of email would be aggravating but I'm hoping this is just a case of ignorance over blatant immaturity.

ilyakogan said...

I think it's all of the above:

1. He emailed it to everyone on his list.
2. He wanted to be polite and tell the agents that were still holing on to his stuff to remove it from their files.
3. Mr. Hyde was dancing in his head telling him to rub it in.
4. Why should you care? Is there something else going on at the moment? Bills are pilling up? Are you angry at yourself and projecting it on him?

Susan said...

Ah, so many possibilities ...

I'd guess he's just disorganised.

BUT, I know several writer-folks who are unbelievably egotistical, and simply cannot IMAGINE why someone would reject them--seriously. Someone in my current writing group is like this; if he's rejected he's just positive that a: his manuscript was confused with someone else's, or b:the editor is heartbroken but simply had run out of budget for the year, or c: it was the editor's last day at work and she 'punished' the company by depriving them of his work, etc. etc. You wouldn't believe what he can come up with to defend his 'irresistible' work.

Who knows? Perhaps Mr. Email is worried that you're pulling strings and selling your soul to reverse your Overlord's decision, and he wants to spare you all that work?

Or maybe your rejections are sitting in his Spam folder and he's just a goof.

Kelley said...

True. They might be sitting in his spam. Which could explain the multi-query thing.

Or he was exhibiting putz-like behavior. Which is also just as possible. Sadly.

Bill Cameron said...

If he's anything like me, he's a fragile snowflake desperate for validation.

December/Stacia said...

If he'd emailed when he signed with an agent I could believe it was just an oversight or innocent email mixup misunderstanding, but the fact that the book is sold makes me think it's a Neener neener. (Or as we called it in suburban St. Louis, "Nanny nanny boo boo!")

Unless the agent literally sold it within hours of signing it, he had time to notify anyone with his queries or materials that he'd signed with an agent already before he announced the sale.

Mags said...

I suspect he's a putz, quite frankly. It was too hard not to click "Answer 5" though, and I am a weak woman.

The possibilities are now endless, and that's just awesome.

Eric said...

Even if it was a case of "neener neener," so what? He's undoubtedly delighted to have got a book sold and wanted to tell the world, or at least the publishing world.

If he knows anything about how agenting works, there might be a bunch of reasons that you didn't offer to represent his book, many of which didn't necessarily have much, if anything, to do with its quality or lack thereof.

It is possible that when you read his book or partial or whatever you thought something along the lines of, "well, I like this okay, but I'm not exactly sure what I can do with it, maybe someone else will know" - rather than, "no way I can sell this piece of crap."

But in any event he found someone, sold the book and now he wants to blow his own horn a little. Aren't we authors supposed to blow our own horns from time to time - hoping, of course, to find someone to blow them for us some other times?

Oh my, I can see where that might go. Better I shut up now.

Lynn Price said...

I can buy the "I didn't get the rejection letter" once. But twice? Nah, not buying it. It's all in the delivery. Had Happy Author said something like, "If you are currently reading my work, I wanted to let you know I've received representation. Thank you for your time...blah, blah," then all would be fine.

Otherwise, Janet speaketh the trutheth,and we remember these neener authors' names in a not-good-way. And we're such a gossipy lot - especially Janet.

Bill Peschel said...

This discussion proves that it pays to be overthrough when e-mailing.

If he had opened with, "I don't know if you had decided on ms., so I think I should tell you ..." there would be no reason for Janet to post.

Yes, it sounds over-finickey, but I've been surprised at the reactions I've gotten from my e-mails. So over-explaining is the way to go.

Margaret Yang said...

It was a neener-neener, for all the above reasons already mentioned. Besides, it was just a query--Janet wasn't even reading a partial, much less a full. There was no reason on Earth to "follow-up."

How else do I know? The urge to do the exact same thing has been overwhelming at times! I have always resisted, and I always will resist, but man, the temptation....

Admit it, fellow writers, you're tempted too.

Kelley said...

"Admit it, fellow writers, you're tempted too."

No. Not in the least. Because frankly? It's one book. An accomplishment, yes. We could debate even a major one. (Though, we don't know the agent or publisher they signed with, or the deal involved.) But.

What if the book doesn't sell after it's published? What if the book never makes it to publication? What if this writer never publishes again? What if his agent drops him? Look at the bridges he might have burned.

I wouldn't neener squat if I were him.

I think I'd be elated and grateful.

Acting unprofessional and pissing people off-that one brief neener isn't worth it. Not by a long shot. Having a successful and long career, now that would be far more satisfying.

clindsay said...

Ha! You'll love this then: this weekend I got the exact same query three times - each time addressed to you.

It was for a book of Christian poems.

No, really.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

So ... am I allowed to say ummm baaaah baaaahhhhh BAAAAHH? Goats never say neener, neener.

-- William E. Goat, III, esq.

silentnight1 said...


Kerry said...

I don't know if I should admit this online... (yeah, I already can feel Janet's response about how anyone who's not an idiot would know that any post that starts that way should not be continued. but I never, like, claimed to be not-an-idiot, did I?) but when I signed with my agent, it felt REALLY, REALLY, good to email all the agents who had fulls and to tell them they didn't have to read them anymore. I swear I didn't email EVERYONE (only agents with fulls) and I swear I was super polite and professional. But I would be lying if I didn't say it wasn't super duper satisfying to get to be the one writing the rejection letter for once...

Gary Corby said...

If his email was polite, as you say, then I'm with Merry on this one. From personal experience I think I know what happened. Your rejects either didn't arrive because his email was broken (I'm still cringing I did that...), or more likely arrived but went into his spam folder, and he failed to notice. All too easy for that to happen. That's why you got the second query; he never noticed the first reject so tried a second email address.

It's unfortunate but email simply isn't a guaranteed delivery system, not even if the email makes it to the target computer. The cure is probably more painful than the disease, but you could fix this by using one of the numerous helpdesk ticketing systems to auto-issue a ticket to every query, and the querier can see the status of the query by checking a web site.

Margaret Yang said...

"I wouldn't neener squat if I were him. I think I'd be elated and grateful. Acting unprofessional and pissing people off-that one brief neener isn't worth it."

I agree with you Kelley, 100 percent. I wouldn't do it. But I also know myself and know that the temptation is there.

And I'm really, really, really glad I never did it.

Janet Reid said...

Hey Gary, I do issue a "receipt ticket" to all the queries I get. I call it "reply!"

Periodically I post that I"ve cleaned out my in-mail. Not often enough of course, but sometimes.
And I always answer status reports.

I'm really not sure an auto response saying "we got this" could be more effective.