Monday, March 18, 2013

It was a good run while it lasted

ChumBucket is one of my favorite things. I love the option of talking to writers directly, maybe giving them some help on their queries or some insight on why their novels aren't for me.

We had 25 rounds where every person who replied adhered to our social contract not to reply with something insulting.

That ended Saturday night.

I had kind of hoped it could go forever. I know it was unrealistic, I did.  But I work in publishing. I'm all about unreality.

The reply wasn't vituperative but it's the kind of thing that makes me cranky:

And I'm sorry to say you sort of confirms my impression of literary agents. You're never satisfied and nothing seems to be  good enough for you.
I don't mean to be rude and I'm not saying this to hurt your feelings.

My options for writing now are either to stop altogether or to self-publish my book/s.

And the deeply ironic thing is he received a reply that was utterly tame compared to some of the eviscerations I've sent to writers---writers who responded civilly to what was said, and  not with sweeping generalizations about agents that are just plain fuckyou wrong.


Richard Brune said...

Perhaps this illustrates the absolute difference between a writer who is in it to create the finest work he or she is capable of - someone who is truly committed to crafting great stories with great words - and a writer who has the sole aim of getting published. The gift of a publishing professional who knows more and better, and is prepared to spend time, is clearly lost on that individual. Still, 25 rounds isn't a bad run. More than twice a heavyweight bout. Without injury or concussion.

Eric said...

I'd endorse the first option. If you can't take rejection and bad reviews, then the life of a writer is not for you-- and definitely not the life of a writer whose standard is "good enough."

(What are the odds that, if and when this is published, any negative responses will only confirm the person's low opinion of readers and critics?)

JeffO said...

That's a bummer.

I've seen the sentiment about agents before; sometimes, it's just frustration spilling over. You think you've got a good book, you've been slaving over your query, and you get rejection after rejection after rejection. Venting is understandable. Venting publicly is inadvisable. Venting at an agent is imbecilic.

I wonder how many rejections this guy has gotten. I'm seeing more and more people say they're going to turn to self-publishing after getting ten to twenty rejections. We are living in an increasingly-impatient society.

I hope this will not discourage you from continuing Chum Bucket, Janet. It's something you enjoy, and something MOST writers appreciate. It would be a shame if you felt like you had to give it up.

french sojourn said...

Maybe that "writer?" should craft an autobiography on the life and laws of Charles Darwin.

Then his life would imitate his art...darwinism at it's most base.

I imagine a majority of those fortunate enough to have been part of The Chum Bucket, realise how invaluable it was.

Bigger and Better Shark.

Leah said...

I hope this doesn't mean the end for the Chum Bucket. Writers love what you do and appreciate it tremendously - myself included. I hope one jerk-face doesn't ruin it for everyone, you included.

*supportive high-five*

Shaun Hutchinson said...

That's really sad. I wish I'd had the Chum Bucket around when I was querying.

I think the ironic thing here is that this writer thinks there is such a thing as "good enough." It always disheartens me to hear a writer say something is or should be good enough, and follow that up with some example of a book that was published that wasn't maybe the most well written. No writer should ever settle for "good enough." If we're not turning in our absolute best material, then what the heck are we writing for?

Sadly, I think that if this writer really feels that "good enough" is really good enough, then maybe quitting writing altogether is the right option.

Being published is a goal, it's not THE goal. Writing the best book possible, the book that only YOU can write...that's THE goal.

Janet Reid said...

This is NOT the end of the Chum Bucket. I value it too much to let a nitwit bring it down.

We just start the count over again this coming week, and hope it has another good long run.

Em-Musing said...

Missed this last Chum Bicket session, looking forward to the next.

Ellipsis Flood said...

25 weeks? I think I got some faith in humanity back.

As for the reply: Well, duh. If you get tons of queries every day, you can only take the best. And if you need to clarify that you don't mean to be rude and hurtful, you should step back from the keyboard and think again.

Personally, I'm glad that things like Chum Bucket and Query Shark exist.

T.D. Hart said...

Angry Comeback's reply tells us alot about his character in very few words.

Maybe he's not such a bad writer after all...;)

Meanwhile, Ms. Janet Reid is doing a hell of a fine job, both for her clients and the industry as a whole.

How's that for an angry comeback?

Cheers...and Happy Monday!

Anonymous said...

Reading his comment even made me cranky. Most of the remarks on here already say it best, so, I'll just say this.

I have an agent and I have no other reason to follow your blog other than to use it as an insider's view into the publishing world, what works, what doesn't, and beside, it's just fun and funny! I follow Betsy too, and between the two of you (although she's not posting as much now) you both have offered so much insight, knowledge and wisdom to writers and authors alike.

I'm glad you're here.

Rebekkah Niles said...

Maybe he doesn't appreciate what you do, but I know I do, and many others as well! When an author gets offended that you respect him or her enough to offer a true critique instead of mindless flattery, the author shows not only a glaring lack of desire to improve, but also a desire to be treated as a child instead of respected as an adult and a professional. Not to mention that behavior displays an inability to uphold an agreement, which I'm sure makes all agents excited to sign the author, because it bodes "well" for the ability to uphold a contract.

Thanks for running the Chum Bucket and helping all the authors improve themselves!

A3Writer said...

I'm so glad you're sticking with the Chum Bucket, Janet. The vast majority of us really appreciate the personal feedback, especially knowing how busy you are.

I have to say I'm impressed at 25 weeks, that's almost half a year. Maybe this time around we can push it a whole year.

In the words of Capt. Peter Quincy Taggart, "Never give up, never surrender."

Fred said...

Funny. What can you do? It hurts. I haven't queried, and I don't plan to. At least, not for my debut. It's around 150K words, and I figure, if it's good enough, some agent will want to represent me at some point. But I kinda feel like I'm missing out on the whole writer thing by not getting rejections. I'd probably curl up in a corner, sucking my thumb and punching a pillow, but who knows, I might be a jerk, too.

Colin Smith said...

I'm glad this isn't the end of Chum Bucket, Janet. While I haven't participated myself (yet), I know how valuable this service is to serious writers. It's sad that one person who doesn't "get it" can spoil things for the majority that do, and I applaud your persistence. May the chum long continue to flow! :D

JES said...

So sorry that the good run lasted only this far. That streak is still a pretty impressive statistic -- 25!!! -- but very disappointing that it didn't continue further. Human nature, sheesh.

If I were in your shoes, this would have soured the weekend for me. I'm pretty sure you're better-adjusted than I am, though. Thanks so much for doing the Chum Bucket thing at all... and for agreeing to simply reset the counter rather than abandoning the experiment!

Anonymous said...

Lame, totally lame.

LorelieLong said...

Nope. Never satisfied, not ever!

*ignores Janet's impressively long list of clients & books*

Lauren said...

Sounds like transference to me. Likely, the response was meant for a significant other.

William Plante said...

Thanks Janet. Early on, third bucket,you responded with one sentence. It changed the way I write, for the better. One of these days.

Anonymous said...


I was fortunate enough to find Chum Bucket just before I began querying, and have to say your honest response to my query thrilled me to no end.

In essence, you said it didn't suck, which gave me the courage to go forth into the queryworld with gusto...because I knew if you didn't hate it I was ready :)

I began querying in earnest the next day, and after five months of rejections I am thrilled to say I've signed with a small press.

Thanks again for the opportunity!

Christi Corbett

jaimiengle said...

Not for nothing, Janet, but the fact that you take the time out to manage a blog PURELY to assist writers breaking into the market shows that you care. I strongly liked the way the responder put " sort of confirms..." That was super awesome! Thanks for the blog. Feel free to check out mine at Hope to send something your way in the near future...

abrielle1 said...

I just wanted to say how grateful I am that you took the time to read my query and tell me what was wrong with it. You weren't even representing my work, and you still responded -almost immediately - to every email that I sent. It's so rare to find someone knowledgeable willing to honestly tell you what's wrong with your writing, and if my novel is accepted for publication one day it will be largely because of the "eviscerations" you took the time to give me.

The Writer Librarian said...

Absolutely agree with Richard. What a petulant attitude this writer has (if we can even call him or her a writer at all). I greatly admire agents for dealing with the whiny, the snotty, and the just plain goofy. And very glad to hear Chum Bucket will continue.

Joanne Sheppard said...

"My options for writing now are either to stop altogether or to self-publish my book/s."

I'm amused that this person seems to think this is your fault ... rather than, you know, just because s/he isn't a particularly good writer.

Brenda Buchanan said...

Dear Janet,

Chum Bucket is just one example of the many ways you go above and beyond to help writers - published and not.

It is a grand experiment and I'm glad it will continue.


Elissa M said...

What everyone else said, plus:

The writer believes his/her only remaining options are to either stop or to self-publish. When was the option of improving one's writing taken off the table?

Though I doubt I'll ever send my query to the bucket (since I don't write a genre you represent) I'm still glad Chum bucket will continue.

Cealarenne said...

I was so sorry to read this. I sent in a query to the Chum Bucket, and your comments gave me an invaluable insight into what was going wrong with it. I'm so sorry, Janet. Especially when it was so generous of you to give up your time and to offer your amazing empathy towards stuggling writers that was behind Chum Bucket. But I guess not everyone sees that.

Mary Ellen Quigley said...

This person should be grateful you read what they wrote at all. Any feedback can be helpful.

Mieke Zamora-Mackay said...

Ah, phooey! I was worried that you'd end the experiment. Thank goodness though that you're still in the mood to continue with it. Maybe someday, I'll have the gumption to submit.

Ilima Loomis said...

Geez. What would he do the first time one of his books got a bad review?

mulletbraid said...

Wow. That's....there are not enough short crude words for such a temper tantrum.

Thank you for having enough faith (and finding enough value) in the other writers going through the process to not allow the turkeys to get you down.

Like some of your other readers, you don't rep my genre, but I've learned a great deal from you and I GREATLY appreciate you offering, free of charge and to the detriment of your free time and sleep, something that has been so educational to me and others.

Papillon crew said...

Six months and only one crybaby response? Not bad, not bad.

I think you just got a rejection letter, madam. Shake it off and move on. Just like the rest of us. :)

Chro said...

See, my response to this would be:

"Confirm or confirmed would have worked in that sentence, but you used the world confirms, which was wrong. And I do mean to be rude. Jerk."

This is one reason why I am not a literary agent.

Chro said...

Erm, I meant to make that spelling error in my last post. Just to be extra rude. Yeah, that's it...

kregger said...

Ms. Reid,
Not one person has offered either a shot of bourbon or a hug.

So, here's both!

Oops, sorry, my hand slipped.


Anonymous said...

I'll miss the bucket. RIP.

Buzz Malone said...

Making "sweeping generalizations about agents" is my job, damn it. I'm calling my union rep. to sick them on whoever has been stepping on my toes.

Scribble Orca said...

Dear Janet,

Haven't chumped in the bucket for ages since my species of book doesn't make your sharkly self tingle with anticipation but...I have watched and loved this aspect of you and your good will and whoever the {insert expletive of choice] was that poisoned these waters will die forgotten and unmissed.

Writers will be telling their grandkids about you.

Sam B said...

I'm sorry to see it go! I was looking forward to chumming it up again after finishing ms #2. Your advice the first time was invaluable! Thanks for the help and Boo to whoever wrote that passive aggressive piece o' shit email.

BonnieShaljean said...

Oh, thank Dog. When I saw "It was a good run while it lasted" and then the words "Chum Bucket" I thought Oh noooo! She's pulling the plug on it, wahhh.. But the little critter is still peering out of his red bin and [I've just read through the other comments] I see that the Great Shark Mother has said she'll keep on, so all's right with the world. Here's to beating your 25-bucket record -

Hmmm, he doesn't want to hurt your feelings or be rude? Then emotional blackmail must be his game of choice. "My options for writing now are either to stop altogether or to self-publish…" Subtext, no other agent/publisher will touch him either.

Wonder if he has any idea what a saddo he makes himself come across as?

Terri Lynn Coop said...

Sort of like the OSHA Safety Board, "This factory has had XXX number of days without an accident" and then BOOM, some idiot gets caught in the automatic toe-crushing-machine and it is back to square one.

Sigh . . . *gets out turner-thingy*

"Chum Bucket has gone 00 weeks with a passive-aggressive manifesto on the publishing industry."


Terri Lynn Coop said...

And waaaay to many of us had a heart palp when our eyes zoomed right to the phrase,

"That ended Saturday night."

Way to scare us! King couldn't have done any better.


Janet Reid said...

Just a reminder: the Chum Bucket is NOT ending.

I should have used the word "streak" not "run." This writing thing, getting all the words right, first time, it's HARD!


Elissa M said...

"This writing thing, getting all the words right, first time, it's HARD!"

I'd be happy if I could get them all right by the fourth or fifth time through...

Ashley Whitt said...

Shh, everyone.

The first rule of Chum Bucket is you don't talk about Chum Bucket.

robinssis said...

I generally lurk, but feel compelled to add my two cents tonight. I am a rejected chum and can honestly say that I came away from the experience feeling quite proud. To be fair, I don't write a genre you normally represent, so my expectations weren't high, but still, I couldn't resist taking a chance with the top shark! I took it as the biggest compliment when you only said that I needed to tighten my query rather than saying that my writing altogether sucked. And I'm serious about that! You are an invaluable source to new and established writers and a downright joy to read. You make me smile on an almost daily basis. For instance...your use of the word vituperative. God, you just make me happy. So thank you for all you do. And I say screw that nasty remoras, he should know who he is messing with.
Your Chum
The Jersey Girl

DD3123 said...

So did this guy jump the shark? Kick the bucket? Wasn't feeling chummy? Argh! Too many sayings to try and work with!