Thursday, September 07, 2006

Author Beware: Inexperience Breeds Contempt

Over the years, as an editor and agent, I have built a pretty good-sized author beware file. This file is made up of interesting and usually angry letters and emails from authors. Often they are in response to rejections or other correspondence we’ve had. No matter what the situation, the letters always give me insight into the personality and professionalism of the author, letting me know that this is not someone I want to work with. From time to time I’m going to dig out one of those letters and post some of what was said. And, of course, I’m going to comment.

This is probably not the most exciting author beware letter I have posted to date, but it has been a while and I do think they are fun. Keep in mind, as always, that all typos are taken directly from the letter. (The letter writer's comments are in italics; mine follow in brackets.)

I knew the minute I saw my SASE that it was going to be a rejection and when I saw that you used recycled paper [BookEnds letterhead is on heavy recycled paper that actually resembles our blog; apparently that’s offensive] I was shocked. I recycle too [and she did here by handwriting this note on the rejection I sent].I use toilet paper rolls as hair rollers(no lie). [Hmmm, I’m not sure what to make of that random piece of information.]  I never thought I would write a novel, but everyone suggested I do so, many even telling me to go directly to the publisher. I am overwhelmed by the process and after seeing what is being published I feel the only reason I'm being rejected is because I'm inexperienced. 



Virginia Miss said...


It drives me crazy (although not enough to roll my hair with toilet paper rolls) the way these nut jobs give aspiring authors a bad name.

Kate Douglas said...

Definitely creepy. Why would anyone write a response like that following a rejection? Makes no sense, but Virginia Miss is right--it casts a bad light on the aspiring author, something all of us were at one (in my case LONG) point in our careers.

L. Faye Hughes said...


Toilet paper rolls? LOL. No wonder you remembered this letter.

I'm constantly amazed at the lengths to which writers will go to make an asterisk out of themselves.


Jaye Wells said...

Thanks for the beauty tip. I already knew not to act like an idiot. It amazes me how uncommon common sense is.

2readornot said...

I know that some writers do respond with bitterness and anger...I have responded back to agents before -- with 'thank you' notes for taking the time to consider my stuff.

Anyway, I just wanted to add my thanks here for answering my question the other day (about multiple pub houses)...I appreciate your thoughts, and I'm glad to realize that agents have a plan for such things. It'll be challenging, I suppose, if the unheard of happens and more than one is interested -- they're all 'big' houses (Dial, Knopf, and Carolrhoda).

Anyway, thanks again!

Mia Romano said...

Toilet paper rolls for hair rollers? Very strange. Now I have a image in my mind of what this would look like. Oh...I'm not going to go there!

jolinn said...

*sigh* why don't these people think before writing back. It's such a small field.

jessberry said...

Oh, my. That letter really makes you want to reconsider your rejection, doesn't it? People never cease to amaze me.

Bernita said...

That last sentence sounds almost like a threat.
Definitely creepy and disconnected.

elysabeth said...

Wow - talk about crazy - was her novel written the same way or was it better? I'm just curious - because this definitely sounds like a fluke of a woman - no one I'd like to meet - E :)