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.



Anonymous said...

That guy actually sounds really creepy, Jessica! I hope he leaves you alone from now on.

Jessica Nelson said...

I think it's moral to stand up for good.
You go, girl!

Liana Brooks said...

I wonder if this is the same wonderful person who hit up Janet Reid with a lengthy complaints letter.

If not - these things come in 3's and I suppose we'll just wait for the other shoe to drop. said...

I thought I had a good idea who the culprit might be, but when I Googled "publishing consultant" to verify it, I was amazed by how many are listed! I wonder if Ann, Victoria and Dave know about all of them?

You must be using a better search tool than I am (usually, because all I ever get by plugging in the IP is the name of the company doing the serving. Can you divulge the name of the one you use?

In any case, I'm glad you put the nitwit in his place. It seems he's been making the blog rounds recently. He might be the same guy who insulted Janet Reid recently. It probably won't be long until we read similar posts from Kristin, Jennifer, Nathan, and Lucienne. I don't think the guys knows the same agents and writers read all the same blogs. Duh.

Beverley Kendall said...

Sounds like he would have been simply a delight as a client. :)

Kate Douglas said...

My husband has a favorite line he loves to use (and it very well may be a quote from someone famous...I've only heard it from my spouse)and it is: There are way too many people out there working hard to separate you from your money.

Writer beware indeed!

Stacia said...

Thanks for this post!

"Publishing consultant"...I wonder what he purports to actually do?

H. L. Dyer said...

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 have a theory...

You are the first agent listed on your website, not to mention the most frequent blog poster. You even come first alphabetically. So the folks who won't bother to research agents in the slightest are going to find you first.

I expect that gets you a bit more than your fair share of the raving loonies and the ones with an overindulged sense of entitlement.

I'm glad you fought back.

Anonymous said...

Really Jessica, good for you. Not only did he have horrible manners, but he burned a bridge unnecessarily; a stupid thing to do.

Anonymous said...

I usually feel that people get what they give. But in this instance, this "writer" will probably get more than he should. It's unfortunate that he will make money off of the backs of those writers who either don't know any better or don't want to do the work of learning the real business of writing and publishing.

When I started writing, before I sent out one single query, I spent hours reading books looking for writing information, scouring websites that addressed the business of writing and was a member of a weekly formal critique group for three years. I learned the business before I bothered to clutter an agent's busy schedule.

Now that I am a new member of a group that is closer to my home, I am seeing in these newbies why someone like this "writer" Jessica spoke of could make money. They haven't a clue. I started opening up my mouth when I saw the first post come to the group about a company that sends out spam queries. This company made themselves sound like they were elite and that none of us old time writing dummies still doing it the hard way realize how "easy" it is to let this company do the work for you by emailing tons of queries to agents who would welcome their emails. Yeah, right.

The writer who posted about this company, early teens and early in his writing, thought this was the best thing to do to further his career. That's when I had to open my mouth and let the group know all about scam artists.

Then I thought more about it. I am now in the process of making my own writing/resume website. For years I couldn't decide what to do for my online presence. After thinking it through, I am now getting it together to make sure I pass on what I have learned about the business of writing and writing itself.

Here's hoping I've seen the last of single spaced 14pt manuscripts in my writing group. :-)

Sandra Cormier said...

Sometimes an agent's gotta do what an agent's gotta do.

You stuck to your guns.

Elyssa Papa said...

Wow. That guy sounds like a piece of work.

One of my rejection letters from a literary agent offered to edit my manuscript to get it "published" and all I had to do was pay them a huge chunk of change. Nothing screams a red flag like that.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

Good for you! I'm sure it gets frustrating to not say what's on your mind when you get angry responses.

Travis Erwin said...

It's idiots like that that make it harder for the rest of us. I understand why agents have to be guarded but I'll never understand why idiots like that think their methods will do anything but harm.

Anonymous said...

I hope his ears are burning....the dumba$$

Anonymous said...

Hi Jessica,
Y'know, I sent in a submission to you guys not too . It's now being published by another e-publisher, but you were completely professional and courteous in your response.
It was only two lines that said: Although we found the plot line very well done and the writing good, we feel that this submission is not right for us." Which translates (to me anyway) into selling fruits at a vegetable market.
Whoever the author is/was, I consider it unprofessional to send back a hate letter.
The business of publishing is SO subjective, and just because a publisher may not like one thing you have to offer, doesn't mean you should burn your bridges, because down the line you might have exactly what they're looking for.
No worries, you guys are top notch.
Even if I never get any of my future books published with Bookends, I can honestly say I read your blogs daily, and there's always something to gain for having an optimistic viewpoint.
Have a good week, and ignore the idiots out there.

Steve Stubbs said...

Well, here's a nice e-mail. I like your blog. I benefit from it every time I read it, and I hope you get better treatment from the majority of your correspondents. Surely most writers - and wannabes - are more professional than the turkey who sent you that mail.

Anonymous said...

I am a writer, and though I know it is best to write this latest book first then look for an agent again, I just can't help myself, and I look around at agent's sites and blogs in my spare moments to get a handle on what is going on and what they are like as people. I have (kinda) decided that I would like my (yet to be completed) book to be handled by either you, Jessica, or another woman agent.

Now I know this is not scientific, but I believe you own a pit bull? The other lady owns a Jack Russell. I am horrified of pit bulls, despite their physical beauty, and I just love Jack Russells. I think they are big dogs in a little package.

I think both of you agents are fighters, but in very different ways. I would be in a shocking dilemma if luck was on my side and you both were interested in representing me.

I would probably prefer the other agent to come to dinner. There is just something that is less threatening in her manner, but would she be the most tenacious fighter on behalf of my book? Hmmm.

Anonymous said...

----picture the Lost in Space robot waving his arms-----

"Warning! Warning! Nut on the loose!

---sorry, couldn't resist-- (grin)

Roberta said...

Right on! Put these jerks out of business ...

Chris Redding said...

You. Go. Girl!

Kimbra Kasch said...

It's a shame that people think it's okay to be rude and unprofessional over the internet, maybe that's because it's not face-to-face, but especially when that person is asking for something, like representation.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

*sigh* I remember Angela James talking about not doing personalized and constructive rejections anymore due to hostile and ugly responses.
It's too bad. I don't mind form rejections at all, but I do benefit from the "Here's what you're doing wrong" or "Here's why you didn't hook me."
Because sometimes it's hard to know if I have an old, tired idea nobody wants or my query letters need serious help. Does that make sense?
(I still have conference brain)
Btw, it was very nice to meet you at RWA. It must be overwhelming at a conference like that. I felt like that and I'm not somebody everyone is looking for.
I love this blog.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Oh, I should clarify that Angie James DOES give personalized and constructive rejections, just not as often.

Anonymous said...

Hey Just_Me - I wondered if it happened to be same guy too. What are these idiots thinking? Or are they even thinking?

Jess Anastasi said...

I just don't understand how he can advertise himself as a professional (publishing consultant, whatever that is) but act like a whacko. Any smart business person knows burning bridges is not a good way to get anywhere in any industry.
I know it's doesn't make it any easier, Jessica (and other agents), when getting nasty letters in response, but I think Kim Kasch hit on it when she said it being due to things being done over the internet and not face to face. I guess its easier for cowards to be rude when faced with the anonymity of a computer screen.

Unknown said...

Ms Faust, with all due respect, you lost me at ‘don’t feed the trolls’.

It’s a universal truth that there will always be someone waiting in the wings to shit on us. Doesn’t matter how nice we are, or how much we give, or how generous we may be. In your case, Ms Faust, you are especially all of the above, so you’ll get the worst of the mud-slinging. Even so, how YOU respond will be far more telling to me than what a writer ill-advisedly did.

Red flags go up in my brain if an agent resorts to name-calling. And writers or authors who read your blog and resort to same will go on my ‘don’t read list.’

I’ve reached a point in my life where I simply don’t tolerate name-calling. It serves no purpose, advances nothing, and worst of all, incites others to do the same. It’s pernicious affects are far reaching, long-lasting, and endangers the lives of the most vulnerable in our society. We’ve had graphic evidence of that in the last few months.

How many more deaths will it take before people realize that name-calling acts like a corrosive acid on a person's self-esteem, and it can get to the point where they either beome indifferent to human suffering, or they pick up a rifle and fight back?

So, if we, as writers or agents, can't write a kind word in the face of adversity, the general rule I follow is pretty simple, I shut the fuck up.

ChristaCarol Jones said...

To each their own, witliz. Though you have a respectable point, I'm with Jessica on this. And I don't recall thinking any of it being 'name calling' more than truth, but maybe I need to go reread her blog.

Either way, I may have done the same thing. Sometimes, people need to face some consequences for their ridiculous actions. Or words. I'm not a person that would take kindly to something like this, though maybe I'd be more desensitized if I'd have to read stuff like this more often. However, it doesn't mean I'd go off on him. And it doesn't sound at all like that is what Jessica did. Sometimes people just need to be put in their place, and though it's probably a better practice to just 'turn my cheek' for the next slap, sometimes there's that inner urge that tells you perhaps you're the one person that can get some sense through to them. And I've also found being "Kind" in these types of situations only anger the doer more.

Ever work retail?

Try being polite to a pissed off customer and see how redder their face gets.

Try blowing a kiss to an A-hole driver instead of flipping them off and see their reaction. You'd be surprised.

Or maybe you wouldn't.

Jersey Girl said...

You know I was always told that when you get a rejection from an agent not to persue it, but this guy had some nerve.

Good for you that you sent him back a reply and I hope you made him feel small. No one should speak to agents in that way, after all who knows how many queries you get and just like we shop for the person who is a right fit for us, you have to do the same thing. Could you imagine actually working with someone like that?

There is no need to burn bridges the way he did.