Monday, July 28, 2014

Dodged a bullet!

Last Saturday July 26, 2014 was the 16th Chum Bucket of 2014.

It's been running since July of 2012. In that time span I've received ONE reply that was slightly snotty.

Then Saturday, I got this:

"Why don't you read the inside of my butt, you smartass little cunt."

Now, you might think this would get me all ruffled and righteously angry.
You'd be wrong.

My first, last and only thought is "whew! Dodged a bullet on this one!'

Part of the query process is sorting out the folks you want to work with from the sort you don't.  Guess where this querier falls? And so nice to know so early in the process.

Can you imagine the querier's response to an editorial rejection? To a "review" on GoodReads? An Amazon one-star review?

Whew indeed!

I really do have to laugh because along with that email I got about eight others that thanked me, either just very politely and simply or much more effusively.  I know this guy is an amusing anomaly in a long run of otherwise amazing interactions.

I will say this though: this is the kind of response that burns bridges forever.  There's absolutely no coming back from this no matter how sincere any kind of follow up might be. 

Queriers are in a tough position. There's absolute no doubt about that. But, you can make it worse, and flying off the handle is one very good way to do it.  Flying off the handle with insulting, invective filled language is a better, faster way. Flying off the handle with insulting, invective filled language when you know you agreed NOT to is the very best, fastest, most thorough way. Please don't find out for yourself.


Lisa Bodenheim said...

What a tough hide you need in this business. And I thought I had it rough (some days when I see a certain car sitting by my office and know that person is angry with either me or someone else.) Sorry s/he feels "privileged" so that they can behave rudely. But as you wrote, it's their loss.

Kitty said...

That comment took my breath away. Literally. I know it shouldn't have but it did.

Unknown said...

I'm guessing the inside of his butt read a lot like his manuscript.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

OMG he used the word "little" and here I thought you were ten feet tall.

Kregger said...

The first thing out of my mouth at the querier's language was, "Oh Jesus!"
Dodged a bullet indeed. Let that person become someone else's PIA.
I wish all problems came with such an obvious warning.

Emily Carpenter said...

this is horrible, then hilarious, then horrible again. you dodged a bullet, even if the inside of that butt is a NYT bestseller!

JD Paradise said...

I mean.


What are you, nine? C'mon, now.

If you're going to play in the big show, you gotta step your game up, son.

Also, ending a question with a period. That's so Nineties.

Yeah, Agent Shark, this gentleman's gonna be a needy one.

french sojourn said...

speechless...I keep reviewing the post and I'm floored.

I imagine that person has tons of baggage and an odd vanity case...and fittingly the novel is probably a trunk-er. (as TLC would say)

dodged a bullet and a ricochet.

Now which five words of that infantile barb are going to be our prompts?

Cheers Hank.

Colin Smith said...

Why? WHY??? What on earth did this person gain from this? I understand being annoyed or frustrated and wanting to vent. But what makes someone think this is the right way to do it? Especially given, as I recall, Chum Bucket isn't advertised--this is something you offer to your blog readers. Which leads me to think this person reads your blog, and must, therefore, know that s/he has just burned, nay incinerated, an important bridge. And, as you point out, part of the Chum Bucket agreement is you won't respond like this.

On the negative side, this kind of reaction can make you angry. On the positive side, this person just became someone's inspiration for an antagonist in their novel, which you may end up requesting, selling, and making a fortune from... :)

Thomas Pluck said...

If that's the best insult they can come up with, their query and work couldn't be much better.

I've responded to personal rejections. Professionally. With a thank you for the person's time consideration. No ass-kissing, no ranting. Maybe a note that I hope we can work together in the future on a different project that's more to their liking.

I've had some story rejections where the editor seemed to glean much glee in tearing apart the story- that merely garnered a mental checkmark not to submit to that publication again (and a special enjoyment when the story later sold at a paying market).

Sometimes I think the best training for writing was martial arts with a good coach. You don't get to argue over whether you need to improve or not, when your ass is knocked flat on the mats.

wjmtv said...

I know that guy. He was behind me in traffic on Friday.

BlancheDuBois said...

I'm kind of impressed that an eight-year-old actually completed a full manuscript and a query.
You might want to reconsider, Janet. Clearly this little guy is a prodigy with a long, bright future in front of him.

Unknown said...

Wow! Mind blown for the day.

You're awesome. Today will only be better, but you already know that.

Thanks for everything you do in keeping the shark tank endurable.

Unknown said...

At first I was curious about what could possibly be written in his butt that should be read.

Then I became curious as to how he was able to read the inside of his own butt. Imagine how bendy this guy must be!

nightsmusic said...


Anonymous said...

Amanda-- lol!

I've met these guys. In their calmer moods, they will tell you that the publishing world isn't looking for new writers, that nobody appreciates their stuff because it's too original and creative, and that really good-quality writing like theirs is being ignored in favor of the talentless hacks who write the garbage that gets published.

They tend to end up self-publishing. The only disadvantage to this is that they do much to give self-publishing a bad name. A lot of bookstore clerks and librarians have been reamed out by these dudes as well.

And, Janet, love the quotes around "review" on Goodreads. Nothing further to add to that!

Anonymous said...

Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

The Agent Fairy AND the Karma Fairy are not likely to forget that faux pas any time soon.

That comment will likely be the most widely read work he'll ever publish.

Ardenwolfe said...

What Alaska said. And well.

Alexandra (Ola) J. said...

Oh, man. This person is all kinds of special.

I'd suggest you name-drop a couple of times to help other agents steer clear of him, but I'm pretty sure he's not a bullet to dodge... he's a bazooka. Much more obvious and much less insidious.

Dana Breann said...

But, did you find out if he is single?

Alexandra (Ola) J. said...

Also, miss shark lady ma'am, would you consider getting Disqus on your blog? It's easier to converse with strangers on the interwebz that way.

*backs away from the sharktastic goddess, bowing*

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Welp. That sure does transcend "a little snotty" right quick. The sender probably ought to be careful who he/she invites to read his/her butt.

InkStainedWench said...

alaskaravenclaw, we know the same people! The guy I know also says agents don't really want to find writers to represent; they just reject everyone for sport.

Not much of a business model, is it?

J.D. said...

I'm always afraid I use too many commas, but shouldn't there be one between smartass and little?

Elissa M said...


This response would be mind-blowing to me even if it hadn't been to a Chum Bucket rejection. Yeah sure, rejection is hard to take, and I'm sure every writer has felt like spewing invectives after a rejection (or thirty). Point is, never hit "send."

Besides, like many have pointed out, this insult is lame. It definitely reads like something a male adolescent would say--one with a limited vocabulary and no imagination.

Obviously this writer sucks at editing and revision.

Amy Schaefer said...


Elissa M said...

On second thought--maybe the writer was just requesting a colonoscopy? Though that's definitely not something I'd ask a shark to do...

Calorie Bombshell said...

I think this is shaping up as a prompt for another writing contest!!!!!

JD Horn said...

This reminds me. I'm due for a colonoscopy.

LynnRodz said...

The problem with the internet is that people will say anything hidden behind a screen that they wouldn't dare say to someone face to face. There's no filtering or at least waiting for a day or two (how about an hour or two) before they hit that "send" button. I've seen people comment without taking the time to reflect on what they're saying. I'm sure whoever this person is wishes they had stopped to think before typing away like a madman and hitting send.

Janet, the way you handled this, you are one classy shark!

Bonnie Shaljean said...

So - what was his query like? Obviously it got rejected, but as you often point out, that can happen for all sorts of reasons and doesn't necessarily mean the query/project is a poor one. How did Butt Man's offering rate quality-wise?

G'wan... tell us... you know you want to...

Ali said...

I am so sorry someone spoke to you like this. I am sure you have a tough hide (cartilage??!), but this is shocking. You put an incredible amount of time and effort into educating and encouraging us to be the best writers we can be, and for your generosity to be shoved back at you like that is so very far from what you deserve from us. I truly believe that mankind is basically good, and it's just a few bad apples that are only satisfied when they are hating on others.

KayC said...

I was horribly indignant and angry on your behalf - how dare he? But, as usual, you proved to be the bigger Shark and have set the example for the rest of the collective (or shiver as google would have me believe is a group of sharks)

Mister Furkles said...

Yawl misunderstand. This fellow--so thrilled an agent responded--couldn't suppress his dominatrix fantasy. He didn't read Janet's genre list. He didn't know she wasn't interested in his erotic gay SM manuscript. And so, … well, … yeah, maybe his depraved fantasies are inappropriate for a business letter.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

These comments are priceless.

The two responses that bubbled up to me were (and I apologize in advance):

1. I don't need to read what's inside your butt, I read your manuscript and it's shit.

2. I'd love to, but your head is in the way.

Hey, I'm 12. But at least I admit it.

And in less than a week he will be on a message board announcing his first self-pubbed screed as his way of sticking it to the evil gatekeepers.


Lance said...

His readership has peaked at a level well beyond what he merits. He appears share qualities of an entoprocta: his anus is right next to his mouth.

french sojourn said...

August 12th 2014

Dear Sharcocious One.

Thanks so much for last weeks Flash Fiction Contest, in the form of a fictitious dating profile.

Although the prompts were odd;
Boston Medical
parents basement

Fun was had by all

Cheers as always.

Writer of Wrongs said...

I had to read this post twice; the first time with disbelief, and the second with admiration.

As a former participant in your chum bucket, let me reiterate how grateful the majority of us are that you provide an incredible opportunity for writers to gain insight into the strengths and weakness of their queries. Your reaction to such a callous attack is admirable-- and yet another lesson to us all about the importance of swimming above the bottom feeders.

Hippocampus said...

@Amanda Capper

OMG ... I almost spit up my coffee!!

@Janet - Thanks for being so cool about crap like this. You ROCK.

GRCubsfan said...

Unless his is an laughably enormous derriere, the word count in there has to be way too low for commercial fiction...

Anonymous said...

Holy cow. *This* is what happens when I go away for a week??? The comments are priceless.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

For once in my life, I'm speechless.