Saturday, February 19, 2011


Here's one for the "You Can't Please Everyone" files. This email came in tonight:

i send in my query with a SASE, and the best you can do is scribble a rejection on the bottom of my own query letter and send it back to me? that's not just rude, it's unprofessional; a professional would have had the courtesy to reject my query with a form letter. wassamatta- is your printer broken? unpublished writers don't merit simple human decency?

and you people are supposed to be in charge of public relations? shame on you.

This missive annoys me for several reasons:
  1. It's Jon who "scribbles" on snail mail queries. He does it because he thinks it's more personal than a form letter. This person sent the email to me--I'm innocent here. I scribble my rejections via email and don't even deal with snail mail!
  2. Authors tell us time and again how happy they are to find an agent who will respond to a query in ANY fashion. Many agents simply tell authors that if they don't hear back, consider it a rejection. I've been tempted to do that but Jon thinks it's tacky (and not very professional) not to respond.
  3. I'm annoyed by the tone and attitude of this email. Somehow this author thinks we don't respond with "simple human decency"--pul-eeze! Human we are and we really bend over backwards to be decent!

OK, I think I'm done now. Just needed to rant and while the author certainly merited "simple human decency," I didn't think that email merited a personal response.


GuyStewart said...

As a published author who is still looking for an agent for my novels, (you turned me down, but while I'm disappointed, I'm not gonna be rude or obnoxious about it, either), I wish I could apologize for the ones who are rude or nasty. I can't, so I'll just say: keep on doing the best job you can do! I trust you will.

Travener said...

When I was off in Cambridge attending the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course, my girlfriend got mad at me for never calling, though I wrote her every other day. Across the dorm hall from me was a woman who was mad at her boyfriend for never writing her, though he called every day.

In other words, you can't win. Whatever you do, someone's not going to like it.

In my mind, a scribbled "No, thanks" is just fine; a form-letter rejection is just fine. What's important to me is getting the word, even if it's just another "No."

I do have a problem with those agents who won't even send an e-mail rejection. At the very least, I want to know if my query was read. I understand not wanting to get into a back-and-forth with a writer who can't take no for an answer, but there are ways around that (like no-reply e-mail addresses).

So to my mind, what you're doing is just fine. Just let us know the score so we can move on if we must.

Dorte H said...

I am pleased to see there ARE agencies that still send out rejections. It does feel very discouraging as searching an agent is already a bit like speed-dating - and in most cases you aren´t even told why or when you have been dumped.

Glynis said...

I cannot imagine being rude to an agent or publisher.

Growing a tough skin and backbone is something your emailer needs.

How rude!

elizabeth seckman said...

Jon is right. Picking up a pen and jotting a note is very human and very decent. Arrogance clouds good judgment.

Ms Luey said...

I'm an unpublished author looking for an agent and let me balance out this jerk by saying - any response from an agent is welcome. Thanks so much for putting that extra time even into the queries that you reject.