Friday, May 17, 2019

the sublimely shortsighted neener neener email

Dear Janet,
Boy did you fuck up.
I queried you and you passed.
My new book was successfully crowdfunded and is coming out just in time to rub your face in it.

Dear Janet
Boy did you fuck up.
I queried you and you passed.
I self-published my novel to rave reviews on Amazon.

Let's review how Janet earns her keep.

She sells things.
She takes projects to editors who offer contracts for publication, with a spectacular amounts of money attached. Wheelbarrows are required to haul it to the bank.

There is a brief stop at the New Leaf office to siphon off 15% of course.

So, you crowdfunded your book. Did Janet sell it? No.
You self published your book. Did Janet sell it? No.

Did anyone sell it? No.

Save the neener neener emails for when you win a major prize, after a scrum of agents wanted to rep you.

These emails are filed under bullet dodged, section burned bridge, sub section utterly cluefree.

Yes, those are paraphrases of actual emails.


Kitty said...

I can't imagine writing such a thing -- and sending it.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Telling the shark, "boy did you fuck up," means you are swimming without a cage while wearing a chum-suit.

Amy Schaefer said...

Or save the neener neener emails for never, and grow up. Yuck.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

A true writer knows better than to take a professional correspondence (a query) so personally. These are hacks. No true writer would ever do such a thing or dare say such to our queen. Silly chum. I think some of the inmates in Carkoon have escaped. We should gather them up and put them back under the rock they slid out from under. This is classless on parade.

Agents friends, not food.

Bonnie Shaljean said...

I'd make a special file marked Schadenfreude, drop them into it, and then occasionally go to Amazon and gloat to myself over their zillion-digit sales ranking and tally of one-star reviews. Hee hee hee.

Theresa said...


Amy Johnson said...

Shaking my head back and forth. Sorry you sometimes get that kind of stuff, Janet. Especially when you're one of the ones doing good in this world. I guess sometimes people work so hard on projects and have such high hopes for them, and don't take "no" well. Instead of considering subjectivity and the possibility that they may have more work to do honing their craft, their response is to try to right things in their delicate psyches by blaming others and/or sending neener neener emails. I dunno. More reason for us all to try to be lights in darkness.

Lisa Bodenheim said...

wow, talk about sublime hubris!

PAH said...

I cannot wrap my head around what it would take in life for me to become the sort of person who would send an email like this. Maybe it's unfair to assume, but I would have to guess the books just aren't that good. You can't be all that talented and act like this... you just can't.

Miles O'Neal said...

I was once told something similar by an interview candidate I passed on (less the book part). Despite being seriously plugged into my segment of the industry at the time, I somehow never ran across their name again.

To be fair, I once did something like this, relationship-wise. Then again, I was 13 and quickly figured out it was neither effective nor cool.

Random fact: For a second, I thought the box below had changed as a tricky test, and said, "[ ] I am a robot". It's too early to be thinking.

Sherry Howard said...

Just, WOW!

Jennifer Mugrage said...

Miles, I am with you.

On the one hand ... Wow.

On the other hand, I've certainly sent very unwise emails (and comments) that I later regretted, usually while under the influence of hormones. Not that that's an excuse for having no foresight or self-control.

Thing is, it's hard to take these e-mails as momentary lapses considering that it would, we hope, have taken some time to crowdfund and/or self-pub. You'd think that process would have given these authors time to calm down and think for a moment.

Emma said...

I wonder if those people then wrote an email to the person who rejected their invitation to the prom and bragged about all the rave comments on their profile.

julie.weathers said...


I remember having a conversation once with an author who had self-published a series of romance novels. It was on the forum and I was talking about having to slice and dice Far Rider, which was 165,000 words.

She asked why I was trying to cut it.

"Well, because no agent or editor is going to look at it with that word count. I need to lean it out."

"And that's why I gave up on agents. I used to query and got tired of agents telling me what to do with my work."

Out of curiosity, I looked the books up on Amazon and they needed a word whacker taken to them in the worst way. Moses, were they overwritten. They were the size of a Gabaldon book and not nearly as interesting.

Some months later she was asking about how to get an agent. Though she had a lovely and devoted fan base, her sales weren't nearly what she would like. So, she was going to give an agent a chance with her series.

I said, "I don't think an agent is going to take a series that's already published. You should try something new to query."

"How would you know? Are you published?"

Nope, you got me.

It's surprising how often that gets thrown out. In online classes when you offer critiques like you're supposed to.

"Thank you, but I'm successfully published and you're not. I know what I'm doing."

Uh, yeah, but does cranking out a couple of self-pub books really make you Hemingway?

Anyway, blame this on no coffee yet and dreaming about the last rites. I'm not even Catholic, so it turns your brain around in the morning.

I'm sorry you get those emails, Miss Janet. I don't know why people need to do that. I have a few people I want to do a How Do You Like Me Now to, but it's not agents. Nearly every agent will say in a rejection, it's all subjective.

Brenda said...

I’m not surprised. I spend far too much time online in writers forums, pages, and virtual massage parlours. The vitriol directed towards those in publishing boggles the mind.
Would a first year electrical apprentice be shocked that she didn’t get the contract to rewire parliament? Would a neophyte nurse be scheduled to work cardiac ER? Does a driver pout if they won’t let him run Daytona before he learns how to drive stick? C’mon people.
But for some strange reason we writers think that fledgling efforts need to be met with instant success. We can’t see anything wrong with the pretty words therefore they must be perfect. It’s only hindsight that allows us to look back and do a full body shudder.
Did you say wheelbarrows full of money? Oh, please...

RosannaM said...

My eyes are still gummed up with sleep, but I thought she said those were real emails.

What in the world???

This person will have no time to write anything, as I am sure he/she spends all his time sending neener neener emails to everyone who ever slighted him/her at any point, for any reason.

So, uh, good luck with the book!

Yeah, I'm trying to grab the brass ring, and I may not be tall enough, or athletic enough, or sitting on the best horse, but I am certainly not going to berate the carousel operator. I win or lose or get off the dang carousel and try another ride.

Claire Bobrow said...

Emails like that make me sad for everyone involved. No one should be on the receiving end of such hateful messages. And the senders are clearly eaten up on the inside, going nowhere fast.

Here's hoping something more positive comes your way today, Janet.

Beth Carpenter said...

My agent would only need wheelbarrows if the publisher paid in pennies; nevertheless, she works hard for her 15%. I have to think some of those neener-neener writers eventually find themselves in desparate want of an agent and query again, hoping you won't remember their flaming bridge episode. The urge to neener-neener them back must be overpowering.

julie.weathers said...


Exactly. You see these people on social media a lot who blame agents, editors, publishers, the moon, for all their ills. I had to substitute an artist I had used in Rain Crow because his prints weren't widely available in the US in 1861 yet. So, off to research again. I doubt anyone would have noticed, but best to be safe. Anyway, I ran across a wonderful American artist who was remarkable. For whatever reason, his work never became that popular during his lifetime even though Washington collected him. He died very embittered and poor.

Sometimes talent isn't enough to become successful. Often it isn't. However, we can't let bitterness overtake us.

"I will love the light for it shows me the way, yet I will endure the darkness because it shows me the stars." ~ Og Mandino

C. Dan Castro said...

People should use the Abraham Lincoln approach. If you’re angry, put it all in a letter, then throw the letter in a drawer for at least a day. He apparently did this many times, letting his reason return, and typically not sending the letter. I know it’s harder now in a world where emails can be delivered instantly, but there’s nothing to stop folks from leaving it in the Draft folder for a day or two.

And for the individual who still can’t restrain themself, crafting hate mail is less time spent refining their craft.

MelSavransky said...

When I lived in Berkeley, our vet had a license for cat acupuncture (or 'catupuncture,' if you will). (You stick needles in the cat, not stick the cat on people. Unfortunately.)

My response to 'neener neener' emails is the same as catupuncture: you COULD do it, but is it worth the energy?

Morgan Hazelwood said...

These emails deserve a strong helping of "Oh, honey." With maybe a little, "bless your heart."

Sarah said...

Morgan, that's exactly what I was going to say! Those emails might even call for a "bless your little heart."*

*Which is Southern for "You are a ****ing idiot, and I'm torn between pity and laughter. But my mom wouldn't let me say ****. Or even think it. So bless your heart."

Timothy Lowe said...

Sorry I sent you those emails, Janet. It was the Ambien talking, I swear.

Lennon Faris said...

I know this isn't the point or topic here, but I notice how this post dives right into the 'good' stuff. Instead of explaining what happened, giving a little background, then including the emails, nope -- BANG! we were just right into them.

Just how a query should be. Great example.

To the OP, well, I guess, bless your little heart.

Amy Johnson said...

Timothy, Timothy, Timothy. You went there.

Craig F said...

One of the problems with the interweb is that it has turned the whole world into something that looks like the retail world.

Any of you who know the joys of working retail know where I come from. People are nasty when they think they have the upper hand.They don't even look sheepish when proven wrong.

Lucky for me, the only retail I did was hardware. I could tell them that they would burn their house down is they did something as stoopid as they planned.

I second the "bless you heart", but up it a "pea-picking". "Bless your pea picking heart" is closer to these idiots.

DK said...

The crazy thing that nobody here seems to have mentioned is that these neenites presumably sent those same emails to every other agent who passed on their work, too.

Katja said...

Ahem... 😬 Can I just quickly say that this wasn't me who wrote that?! Just so you know, cause I'm also (almost) self-published and on Amazon and want to get rave reviews..

Plus, I also queried Janet (a LONG time ago, but with another version of my stuff) and she rejected (no problem, Janet!).

And since I've told some people that I'm self-publishing.. oops.. but this was NOT me.

Lennon Faris said...

Off-topic - Katja, if anyone thought this was you, they need to go back to Kindergarten. Also, I love your website. You should link it to your Blogger profile (the name/ link you use to comment here) so all us Reiders can find it easily :)

Elissa M said...

Well, I guess those emails made the senders feel better? Otherwise, I can't think of any other reason they sent them.

More and more often I've been running across folks who are complete neophytes at whatever, but who pooh-pooh any information or advice from experts. It's as if knowing your subject and/or working successfully in a particular field for decades doesn't count anymore. The phenomenon truly baffles me.

JD Horn said...

Send me their names and addresses. I’ll sic Kirby on them.

KDJames said...

Janet, I know you've got a thick skin, but that kind of mean and vindictive has got to sting at least a little. I'm sorry these people subjected you to their ugly. Keyboards should come with an optional "DELETE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE" button.

It's funny, when I think about it, that a lot of my motivation and drive for various things (not just writing, but that especially) has come from people who said negative or discouraging or insulting things about my abilities. Positive encouragement is great, but sometimes it takes someone beating you down a bit to hone your determination. If those writers had an ounce of perspective or self-awareness, they'd be thanking you.

Michael Seese said...

Aw, come on, Janet. Tell us the name of this "masterpiece." I want to buy a copy, just so I can post a review on Amazon saying how much it sucks.

Just kidding.


Kae Ridwyn said...

Whoa, that's intense. Sorry you get emails like that, Janet. The mind boggles at what they were thinking. Nope, actually - they probably weren't.

@MelSavransky - thanks for the laugh! That visual of sticking the cat on 'worthy' people - ha!

and @KDJames - yes! I'd like one of those keyboards too! Methinks you'd have a money-spinner on your hands with that one :)

Irene Troy said...

I'm late responding to this because I was traveling yesterday. For some reason, this topic stirred my frustration. I belong to a local writer group as well as an online group. One thing that gets my ire up is the refrain of "poor me, agents, publishers, editors have no idea what they are doing. They keep rejecting my work! My friends, family, workshop members love my work. It's the system that is wrong, not me." They send perhaps ten query letters, receive no offers and decide it's time to self-publish and "show those snooty agents."

Yes, this is a frustrating profession and being rejected hurts. Unless you plan on a very brief, perhaps non-existent career in writing, learn to take rejection as a pro. Cry, curse and scream all you want in private, but always be polite and respectful in public, even online.

Miles O'Neal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Miles O'Neal said...

Or as Mema used to say, "Bless their pointy little heads."

If I thought I had something to prove, the proof would be in the pudding and I'd eat it. No wait... The proof would be in sales numbers, and I'd let them speak for themselves.

Jennifer, I agree on the time thing, but IME this sort of person has a lot of bitterness (h/t to Claire for her thoughts on that), and has let that eat away at them since the day they took a rejection letter as a personal rejection.

Brenda, good points. The online writing community is a bizarre mishmash of helpful people, people trying to be helpful (but who aren't), people trying to learn, people who think they are trying to learn, and needy people. Twitter is both the best and worst of that.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

geeze, with the neener neeners, but also all the shade on self publishing. Sure, lots of people self publish some extremely subpar stuff. Other self publish on an amazingly polished level and make wild fortunes from it. Of course, it's all in demeanor. "Successful" self publishers probably don't neener, I wouldn't think.

I self published a novella, sort of experimentally I guess, but I'll continue to self publish more in the series. Novellas are a difficult length to submit, much less place (and I've never seen an agent whose submission guidelines says 'yes query me with your novellas', though I guess don't show me if you find one, I don't want to regret this!). I've sold. well. More than the 10 copies that my aunt bought for Family Christmas, anyway! Would I love them to be super successful and have a publisher come knocking with a deal that I bring to an agent? Oh yes. But my marketing budget is about zero and I've only got a few reviews so far between Amazon and GoodReads so it is what it is. I really like writing these characters, and remain unembarrassed by what I've released into this world, so I count that as a win!

AJ Blythe said...

Catching up on my backlog of blog reading...

Gobsmacked. Cannot believe writers neener neener. Have they not heard of burning bridges? And yes, bullet dodged.