Monday, August 04, 2008

Writer Beware, BookEnds Style

I just had a very interesting experience with a submission. After reading over the query and determining that there were many reasons the book wasn’t right for me, I sent along my standard email rejection. One I hope is kind, yet honest. The author, in a clear fit of anger, sent back a reply stating that after reviewing our web site he was pleased I had rejected the work since what we represent is “boring and insipid.” Clearly he decided we weren’t a good match anyway.

Kim likes to point out that while sometimes she gets back angry responses, no one gets insulting emails as much as I do. It must be something about my charming personality. And before you start guessing why (although I’d love to know your theories), I should point out that Kim and I have almost identical rejection letters.

Well, I must have been in a mood, because I decided to respond. I know, I know, don’t feed the trolls. But I couldn’t resist. I was lounging on the couch, “relaxing” after a day in the office, and I was in a pretty good mood, a mood to have a little fun. My response was to suggest that the author read agent Web sites before querying. In fact, I think my exact wording was, “In the future then you might want to consider actually researching agents before querying so that you only seek representation from those you deem worthy of your work.” I also suggested maybe the author consider proofreading all queries before sending them out since there were a number of spelling and grammar errors. Okay, okay. I know. Why did I stoop to this author’s level. Because I just couldn’t resist.

And then I decided to hit Google and do a little research on my own. Lo and behold, Mr. Angry Author has a business in which he calls himself a publishing consultant. Now I’m not about to name names or link to Web sites, but I did alert Writer Beware of their existence. My concern: this is a “consultant” who clearly knows nothing about the publishing business (it was also suggested to me that I’m ignorant because I base my submission decisions on queries without reading the manuscript) and is making money off authors who will depend on him and his company to guide their careers.

So the moral of this little story . . . don’t insult agents because we will fight back. No, no, that’s not really the moral. The moral is that you need to carefully research anyone who you plan to hire as part of your publishing team. Consultants (which you shouldn’t need), editors, agents, and even publishers should be researched and questioned. Review Web sites like Writer Beware and talk to other authors. Get referrals and listen to your gut. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is, and if it costs you money up front, run like the wind.

There are a lot of people in this world looking to take advantage of others. I’m not sure if Angry Author is someone looking to take advantage or simply ill-informed, but either way, my warning flags were raised.