Sunday, June 20, 2010

I know you think I'm dimwitted for failing to recognize your magnificance

But please let's all remember that a form rejection doesn't mean your work sucks.

It might, but honestly, I'm never going to say so.

Most often, it doesn't. If you've put a lot of thought and work into your manuscript it may have problems, but it doesn't truly suck. Quit gnawing yourself to death worrying about this. Gnawing is MY job.

Let's also remember "I was nominated for an Edgar" is nice but virtually meaningless in a query letter. There are literally hundreds of Edgar nominations; all it takes is a book and an entry form.

Even worse is "I was nominated but lost out to CJ Box" when you weren't even on the short list of finalists. That's clearly hoping I'm a total dimwit and don't know how the Edgars work.

I turn down publishable material every day for a variety of reasons; one might be the author seems like an arrogant asshat.

It's ok to BE arrogant, just work on concealing it better.

Just like it's ok to think I'm a dimwit as long as you don't actually convey that in your email.


Ronda Laveen said...

Unfortunately, arrogant asshats are far too abundant in all walks of life.

Jessica Bell said...

haha. I'm sure you're not a dimwit.

ali cross said...

ROFL I love hearing these stories because it just baffles me that there are people out there who ARE that stupid. Makes me feel totally and completely BRILLIANT by comparison. ;)

Buffy Andrews said...

Janet, Just a quick note to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. You really do make me smile. And I never heard the word asshats before. That is sooo funny. Usually I call them dickheads or dumbasses or idiots or douchebags or jackasses. But asshats is probably a bit more polite. I will definitely have to remember that word. Thanks for making me smile and teaching me something new today. Blessings, Buffy

Keith Popely said...

Hi, Janet. You bring up an excellent question: How and when does an author come to the conclusion that his/her novel does, in fact, suck?

We are repeatedly advised that "Rejection is a normal part of the process" and "just keep querying; eventually you will find and agent and get published." But if agents are rejecting a manuscript on the basis of "It's just not for me" when the truth is it's just not very good, then the entire process is sort like a cruel prank, one that never ends for the writer.

I suspect that, from your point of view, you don't feel you have the right to tell someone his/her work is "not good" because reading is so very subjective. While you don't see the appeal in one particular novel, someone else might. And maybe that novel goes on to find an audience. So, in the end, regardless of your opinion of the work, it is, in fact, "good" to that particular audience. Not to put words into your mouth, but I've been asked to evaluate other people's work and that was my reaction. It's a very difficult thing to tell someone, "I just don't think your writing is very good."

However, consider this: from a writer's point of view, I would much, much rather have someone of your stature tell me that you just don't think my story idea is original or the writing is amateurish or even just a flat "not very good." The reason I say that is because once I've got a criticism like that in hand, then I've got something to work on. I can't fix something if I don't know there's a problem. And if the problem is so bad that it can't be fixed, then at least I can put that novel in a drawer, consider it a practice round, and start on the next one, which might turn out to be a lot better. But the biggest advantage to getting a coup de grace from an agent would be that I can finally stop sending out query letters and editing the manuscript. If no one ever tells us that the book "just isn't very good," then the submission process - the torture of false hope - will go on forever.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should point out that I have not queried you and I have just begun the query process. The reason I ask is I don't want to find myself still sending out queries a year or two from now and wondering if I'm getting rejections because I just haven't found the right agent. Or the book just isn't very good.

Thanks very much for your time.

Kathryn Rose said...

I love the word "asshat"! Thanks for the post, Janet. You're no dimwit, don't worry. :)

@ali, I agree. They're always good for a chuckle, eh?

Unknown said...

Why would anyone want someone for an agent if they though the agent a dimwit?

Robert A Meacham said...

Sometimes the light burning in one's eyes comes only from the reflection in the mirror. Egos need to get over themselves.

Joyce Tremel said...

Asshat is one of my favorite words. It's right up there with jagoff, a popular Pittsburgh expression. (Often said like this: Yinz guys are jagoffs.) Feel free to borrow it.

Unknown said...

I just love the word "asshat."

Harley May said...

"the author seems like an arrogant asshat.."

Oh, Janet Reid, you make me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Asshats and all things being considered, one must have something appropriate to cover their ass and their low self esteem. It's interesting to note that some of the finest authors to put pen to paper were arrogant, temperamental, antisocial and generally not about anything but the work. I suppose there is an agent for everyone, even the asshats like Salinger and Hemingway. I'm an aspiring asshat. ;)