Wednesday, September 26, 2018

6 Reasons I think "whew, bullet dodged!"

A query tells me about your book, and about you. Sometimes after I pass on the query, I discover something that makes me think "whew, bullet D O D G E D, thank you publishing deities, both foreign and domestic."

Here are six of them:

1. You reply to my auto-respond vacation notice with a screed about lazy-ass agents.

2. You self publish the novel and are later found to have sock-puppeted most of the five star reviews.

3. You answer a form reply to your query with an assessment of my taste and character that leads me to wonder why you queried such a cretin in the first place.

4. You approach me at a social function, poke me in the name tag, and hiss "you rejected me!"

5. I slink around your website and Twitter feed and notice you post who you've queried and what their responses are.

6. You added me to your mailing list without asking. Special bonus points for sending a newsletter with no "unsubscribe" button.

All of these make me glad I said no.

Notice that none of them are failure to follow the directions, spell my name right,  tell me about your novel in the query, or other mistakes/oversights that are NOT the sign of an asshat writer.

Bottom line: if you're worried about being an asshat, you most likely are not.


Carolynnwith2Ns said...

#4 You need to change your name to Mother Teresa.

E.M. Goldsmith said...

These amaze me. I can't even think why a writer would do any of these - well #5 is what QueryTracker does isn't it? I mean, writers track how long their responses take and what they are but only inside that website. Should we not use QueryTracker? I do not wish to be categorized as an asshat even though I am socially incompetent. I worry.

Colin Smith said...

Elise: I think agents recognize that such agent reviews are part of Query Tracker's value. They expect to see them there. In the context of Query Tracker, those reviews are intended more as a heads-up to others. Your audience is, after all, other querying writers. Posting agent reviews on your blog and Twitter comes off too much like a petulant vent. You're not simply informing other querying writers; you're blowing off steam. You're trying to broadcast to your handful of followers what a mean agent that person was to turn down your work. At least that's how it can easily appear.

I'm also amazed people would do these kinds of things. What on earth do they hope to achieve?

Mister Furkles said...

But Janet, you left one off the list: "You are later sued for plagiarism."

Amy Johnson said...

This raised some questions: The Queen is joking, right? People really did those things? How gullible am I? Really? They really did? Wow. Just wow.

Writer of Wrongs said...

I think it was another agent (not QOTKU) who once tweeted that writers should not personalize their *manuscripts* with agents/editors names as characters. Bonus points if that character is a crime victim - or villain.

Craig F said...

I think you got the bottom line backwards. If you are worried about being an asshat, you are.

The reason I say that is because normal, decent people don't have thoughts of doing asshat things. If you have to worry about that comment you made, somewhere along the line, it is because you crossed the line.

It can be a very fine line. Most of those that are true asshats don't have thoughts about repercussions of their actions. You can see that by looking at any political feed, you get laughed at and can't see what was funny. Those who are fatigued by rejections and conflicting answers to simple questions might get frustrated and let something slip.

Those worry about that line, they are not necessarily asshats, they are just frustrated. In the long run they might end up being exemplary friends, employees or clients, because they can worry.

Julie Weathers said...


That's why I use a pseudonym on query tracker. I have posted query details a few times not to "out" any agents, but simply to add more information to the pool.

I don't post many book reviews. I know I should, but I always feel inadequate and feel I should be honest. Do I post reviews on everything I read or just books I like? I don't like dissing authors in public. So, for instance, if I had a phobia about pantless authors, I wouldn't comment on certain a author's predilection for freedom.

It never ceases to amaze me that aspiring authors think it's all right to do these things. You may not like rejections, who does, but ranting at an agent about them gains what?

I'll never forget the writer attacking Janet at Surrey because she had switched name tags with another agent. It was kind of the running joke "Hello, I'm the gorgeous and talented _________." I can't remember who the other agent was, maybe Jennifer Jackson, but it was funny because everyone, or we assumed, everyone knew who Janet was and if I recall correctly Janet would reference her beautiful long hair. Anyway, people were enjoying the show and it helped to make the agents human.

Then Dolly Parton wanna be got mad when the mod asked Janet to answer a question. "Who are you? I thought you were _______. I don't even know who you are. You're wasting our time with stupid jokes when we paid good money--" blah blah blah. She went on a tirade and I finally said, "It's a joke. The rest of us thought it was funny."

You know, if you're going to spend over $1,000 to go to a conference, you'd think a person would at least look who the presenters are.

A lot of people were talking about Blondie and not in a good way.

That was also the conference where I double booked some classes because I thought I wouldn't get in one or the other. I got in both. Since I knew Janet's query class would be booked solid, I figured she wouldn't miss me. I went to the other one that was limited to ten.

Janet missed me.

I spent the rest of the conference hearing "J-U-L-I-E Weathers," from across the room every time Janet spotted me. I would get down on bended knee and apologize.

A good time was had by all. Except Blondie, apparently. Why would any agent want to work with that dipstick?

Good grief. Life is short. Why make it short and miserable?

Karen McCoy said...

Like Elise, I also worry about being categorized as an asshat, because sometimes it's easy to unintentionally overstep unwritten rules. Case in point, I often wonder what is the best etiquette for unexpected encounters with agents in the real world--like running into an agent at a conference or at an author's event.

Case 1: Strike up a conversation with author at a conference, and agent happens to be standing nearby. Recognize name tag as an agent who rejected.

Do you a) casually mention the rejection if it comes up in conversation, with a quick (and honest) no hard feelings, this is a business, and then continue to other topics? Or is it wiser not to bring up the rejection at all?

Case 2: At an author event, author encourages you to approach agent and strike up conversation, and even ask if you can query. Agent says yes, plese query, and tells you to make sure you mention said event. You agree--only to get home and realize you did query this agent, and you forgot they rejected.

Do you a) query anyway, mentioning the event, but not the previous query, especially since the novel has changed significantly since the original query? or b) just move on, and don't query at all?

Interested in people's thoughts.

Julie Weathers said...

Writer of Wrongs

Janet makes an appearance in all my stuff. In Far Rider, she's J'et Reid, a nomadic guerilla fighter horse trader. In Rain Crow, she's a widow in Baltimore with a Jewish lady housemate. She thrashed a man with a garden spade because he was beating his wife in front of her house, then took the woman in. Later, she hides a spy under her hoop skirts when a Pinkerton man bursts in looking for him. In Cowgirls Wanted, she's a bronc rider.

It's a running joke.

Beth Carpenter said...

Karen, what I would do (which obviously doesn't mean it's the proper thing to do) is:

Case 1: Smile, nod, and go on to other topics. I'm awkward enough in these situations without dragging in that they rejected me. Unless they suggest I query, in which case I'd admit I had.

Case 2: I'd query again, with a brief note at the bottom that we met, you suggested I query, I realized later I had, but the story is significantly different in this way ... All they can do is reject you again, and they did suggest you query so how upset could they possibly be?

Karen McCoy said...

Great suggestions. Thanks, Beth!

Colin Smith said...

Craig: "Most of those that are true asshats don't have thoughts about repercussions of their actions."

This is why people who worry about being a**hats are not. They worry partly because they don't want to be an a**hat, and partly because they fear the repercussions of coming off like an a**hat.

Karen: The only time to remind an agent that she rejected you is when she has signed you. Then it's something you can laugh about over cocktails. Otherwise there's not really a good way to bring that up without it sounding like you're holding it against her. It would probably go over as well as "Hey, Margie, remember me? You stole my husband!" Better to not say anything about it if you want to lower the awkward level of the conversation. ;)

Brenda said...

Kind of hard to imagine anyone doing these things but I am no doubt naive. Perhaps another would be 7. I checked your social media and found that you were picking nasty, pointless, socially unacceptable arguments. 8. I discovered by chance that you were lying about your credentials.
9. I saw you on America’s Most Wanted.

John Davis Frain said...

I was on a flight from my hometown to New Jersey seated next to a woman. We got to talking and time flew by faster than the jet. She was interesting, plus (perhaps selfishly) I thought she might make a good character in a story. Short of that, she could be a wonderful resource for information. (I don't know what I had to offer in exchange, but I'd worry about that later.)

So, as we're getting close to landing, I asked her if she'd share her card so I'd have her number. I wasn't being coy and wasn't even thinking about dating.

She says, "Sorry, you're nice, but I already have a boyfriend."

Yep, rejection without even intentionally querying. I was so stunned I just said "Oh... okay." We didn't talk the rest of the flight.

Oops--this wasn't the "favorite rejection stories" blog post, was it? Sorry, I'll take my seat now, thank you.

Writer of Wrongs said...

I think the difference is that you and Her Sharkliness already know each other, so it CAN be a running joke. It’s not like, “Hey, you should rep me because I named a character after you, so you owe me!” And it doesn’t carry the vague threatening sensation that being named as villain/victim offers - again, without a prior relationship.

KDJames said...

7. You occasionally make comments on my blog, disagreeing with my advice.


One of these days, when I'm finally ready to query, I fully expect to get a rejection letter that consists of a GIF of some animated creature laughing uncontrollably, followed by a single word, "No."


John, that's hilarious. I would love to have seen your expression.

Karen, I wouldn't ever bring up rejection when meeting an agent. Not because it might make you uncomfortable, but because there's no gracious way for an agent to respond. Also, realize that at events where agents and writers mingle, chances are very high that they're going to casually request queries from most of the un-agented writers they meet. Chances are significantly lower that all those writers will submit something, and agents know that. No worries.

Karen McCoy said...

Thanks, Colin and KD. Yup, I definitely won't do that again...

MA Hudson said...

Totally gobsmacked at these.

Really? People REALLY do these things?! Yikes.

Julie Weathers said...

Writer of Wrongs

Yes, this started out with a three way conversation with Tawna Fenske who is a fun romance author. I believe it started with doughnuts and evolved to what we would do for doughnuts and wound up vowing to put each other in books and including Janet in the game.

I may be wrong. I know Janet, Tawna, and doughnuts were involved and it was pg rated, which is unusual for Tawna.

Morgan Hazelwood said...

I've had an agency that auto-add me to their mailing list, with tips/etc for querying and writing, after rejecting me.

I totally understand the awkwardness of THAT exchange.

AJ Blythe said...

I'm catching up on the blog from when I was offline and hadn't planned on commenting, because I'm sure no-one is listening, but after reading this list...wowee! *pushing up chin to close mouth*