Monday, September 21, 2009

There is no out of town opening any more

Years ago stage plays opened in New Haven to work out the kinks before hitting "the real deal" on Broadway. Josh Logan has some wonderful anecdotes about opening out of town in his marvelous memoir Movie Stars, Real People, and Me.

Opening where the critics weren't close at hand was also a welcome idea.

Those days, thanks to the internet, are gone forever.

What does that have to do with you?

If you keep a blog, and you post about your submission travails, I get to read it along with everyone else. Particularly if you link to your blog in your query letter. If you have a handy little category labelled "agents" "editors" "submissions" "rejections" you BET I'm going to read those.

So, tonight, I now know a query I was considering has been rejected elsewhere, AND what the author's response to that rejection was.

I urge you, caution you, warn you, beg you: there is no privacy on the web. Post it, and the world knows it.


SundaySoup said...

I see this topic on agents' blogs all over and yet it's still happening. The "it was rejected by 10 agents and 2 editors" blog posts just blow my mind. Flabbergasted, I am.

Jm Diaz said...

Only because you mentioned "plays" was I reminded that "Atlanta Shakespeare tavern" is doing Macbeth in late October. If some chance you happen to be in this area for that, I highly recommend it... Those guys (and gals) are goooood.

Now, to your actual post, I agree with the privacy issue, but I'm pretty sure that the folks that post about their rejections know that agents can see it. Lord, I hope they know!

suzie townsend said...


Sarah Laurenson said...

I would think though that garnering agent rejections should not be an automatic sign that your submission isn't good. This is a subjective business and there might be plenty of rejections before an author finds the right agent. Lots of stories out there about how many times successful novels have been rejected.

Blogging that a rejection reflects personally and badly on said agents? Yeah. Not smart.

Jon said...

I don't work in publishing but you bet I check clients claims on the internet. I'm often amazed at what I find.

I truly appreciate agents' blogs so I can be sure to appear professional when I query and not like a clueless noob. And I sure won't be dissing the publishing industry when I get rejected.

Tracy Loewer said...

I blogged about my first partial rejection, but I'm not too worried about who reads it. It was a tongue in cheek account of my 5-minute journey through 9 steps of rejection grief, culminating in the devouring of a bag of Golden Oreos.

Sometimes I pretend to receive a rejection just so I can justify eating more Oreos. So far I haven't read any agent blogs speaking out against that sort of thing, so it's totally just a matter of time before I snag someone. said...

Sometimes I pretend to receive a rejection just so I can justify eating more Oreos.


Sara J. Henry said...

Ditto for Twitter. Those tweets don't just disappear. You can find them handily just by typing in

A friend recently tweeted about having an agent request 50 pages after a contest, and how she was quickly reworking them. You guessed it - the agent saw it, and commented.

It astounds me that people who want to be published don't realize the potential impact of this stuff. Before pressing that ENTER button, think And how would this look if quoted in a future article about me?

Debra L Martin said...

Janet, I actually linked back to one of your earlier posts about "your invisibility cloak" on my own blog:

I am amazed at what I read on some other writer's sites. What are they thinking or are they thinking at all?

Furious D said...

Then it's a good thing that I write about the business behind pop culture (mostly movies) because I'm a boring topic, and it doesn't offend agents.

Studio bosses, definitely, but they don't read blogs.

Rebecca Knight said...

This is so true! It's amazingly easy for people to forget that everyone can see them online. I know sometimes I find myself getting too comfortable and have to repeat the mantra "Grandma will read this, all agents will read this, my boss will read this" to remind myself.

I think it's the mentality that "it will never happen to me" that makes people forget.

Briane said...


Did that make you more, or less, likely to reject the work? Do agents take into account what other agents think (I'd expect they do, but what do I know?) Or were you reacting to the author's reaction to the rejection?

If it's the former, then wouldn't agents want writers to blog about this stuff, so you know? Otherwise, you wouldn't, as most query writers would not put in the letter "By the way, you're agent number 373 on this one." (The 373rd's the charm, right?)

If it's the latter, then I would assume you're concerned about your reputation, since a negative opinion posted online never goes away.

I'm someone who at times will post that I got rejections, and sometimes I name them, sometimes I don't. I haven't said anything real negative about them.

But one magazine which rejected my short stories (and got posted about) then accepted a different short story for a different magazine published by that same company, so either they don't read my blog or they didn't mind what I wrote about them.

Anyway, I like your blog. Thanks for it.

SundaySoup said...

I don't think that the rejections are necessarily what makes another agent shy away from a writer. It's that the writer has no censor, no sense of what is private business vs. what is great to share on your blog or in a tweet. Very rarely are ALL the agents you send to interested, and other agents know this and expect that you have had rejections, but if you share these business type things, instead of say the anecdotal type things, then what else will you share? I saw a writer on Facebook the other day post, "A second editor made an offer on my manuscript! One rejection so far, seven editors still reading!" Seriously. My agent would probably fire me if I did that (and rightly so). But he wouldn't have to because I never post these private business dealings. Even after I had an offer and an agreement of terms, I waited for him to send me the email that said it was okay to tell. And I waited SEVEN days for this okay (like ta kill me!). The thing is, he didn't have to tell me not to post it. I knew because these are delicate matters. If you're not sure, don't post it. BTW, it goes both ways. I have seen agents post things on Twitter about queries they are reading and they're just downright mean. If I ever found myself looking for an agent again, I would not query them, EVER. And I don't mean "funny snarky" like you, Janet. I mean cruel.

Adrienne said...

I think it really doesn't have that much to do with the number of rejections (though maybe it raises a red flag, I'm not sure). Janet was clear to add "AND what the author's response to that rejection was". I think THAT is the biggest factor.

If an author responds irrationally, childishly, unprofessionally to a rejection, I am sure an agent questions what this author would be like to work with. I'm sure too the agent might worry if their personal correspondence might wind up being dissected on the author's blog.

At least that's what I concluded from this post.

Anonymous said...

Dear heavens, will someone please tell this to the Rejection Queen ( She genuinely believes that because she's blogging under a pseudonym, no one is ever going to figure out who she is.

ryan field said...

I probably have about forty saved blog posts that I never published, and never will. You have to try to think ahead before you put it out there for everyone to see.

Lisa Desrochers said...

But...but...really it's good and they were just being stupid...

Thanks for the post, Janet, but it really shouldn't be necessary. Anyone who is connected at all(Twitter, blog reading, etc.) should know this because they're reading other people's stuff. Duh!

I guess some people think of it as some sort of badge of honor and want to show off their battle scars. Either that or they're just not very smart.

Heather Kelly said...

I think that we all get too comfortable in thinking that our blogs are our own little corner of the internet universe. And they are, but as private as a fishbowl. We can control what lives in the fishbowl, but we can't control who peers in. (I find this ironic, because I'm sure that whoever it was would have been psyched to know that an agent was peeking in--isn't networking the purpose of all these internet tools?) A good reminder.

Caroline said...

Yeah, I really censor myself on Facebook and other social networking sites. In fact, I always ask myself how I'd feel if my great aunt/boss/10-year-old nephew read what I've just typed. The result? A lot of things don't get posted and my Facebook page is damn boring, but at least it won't come back to haunt me.

As Sunday Soup said, though, agents need to remember that the same applies to their blogs and twitters. (I'm not talking about you, Janet, obviously).

J. R. Tomlin said...

I guess I feel like everyone KNOWS writers have submission travails. Who's interested? I've written a couple of political posts on my blog that a few people might not like. At least, those might be minimally interesting. More so than, "*@%&, I got another rejection."

If you make submissions, who hasn't?

I also advocate following Heinlein's rules which I may write about on my next blog post. I know a few people who hate those--so I'd be willing to get into a heated argument. Heck, anything to heat up my rather boring blog. ;-)