Monday, June 19, 2006

When You Feel The Response Urge—Don’t

STATUS: Mondays are usually just crazy but today was quite good. Lots of money came in the mail. Love that. Also, final contracts to be signed are here. My author will be so thrilled to see this deal officially concluded. I’m also have dinner with another client on Thursday. Looking forward to that.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? OTRO DIA MAS SIN VERTE by Jon Secada

I just have to shake my head. So much of what we need to know to get by in this world (and be successful) would happen naturally if we just adhered to our common sense.

And common sense should dictate that writers maintain their professionalism—even in the face of disappointment.

If I (or even Sara) send you a NO response to your sample pages, why in the world would you respond with a long diatribe of all our failings? Of how we wouldn’t know a good project (or the next Da Vinci Code--can I count how many times I’ve heard that) if it hit us on the head (although I think my sales record speaks for itself), of how we are responsible for the all the garbage that is currently on bookstore shelves (matter of opinion and certainly not fact and I don’t believe that all those books are garbage), and of how we are wasting our time representing something as mundane as historical romances (when in this writer’s opinion, only “real” historicals with “real” history should be published).

Seriously, this writer slammed a genre that had nothing to do with his work. Not to mention, what is he implying about my intelligence since I happen to rep romance (and thoroughly enjoy doing so)? What a way to win friends and influence agents.

Really, it boggles the mind.

I understand writer frustration. I understand that it isn’t easy to get NOs all the dang time. I really do. But this biz is tough. Nobody said it would be easy, and it shouldn’t be.

Not to mention, what would keep an agent from adding this writer’s name to a black list?

I don’t keep one but I know agents who do.


But this is what bothers me the most. If it’s our fault that the project isn’t being picked up for representation and then published, then writers don’t have to take responsibility for their work.

I’m positive this person did not consider the fact that maybe the writing wasn’t up to snuff, or the story idea didn’t have a place in the market, or that it simply didn’t interest me (and that isn’t a failing on my part—maybe another agent will love it.)

No. We are to blame. And I will tell you one thing I know. My guess is that writers who indulge in this kind of response will never get published because they don’t get it and if you don’t get it, how can you ever strive to be a better writer?

So when you feel the response urge? Go for it. Write it all down—every word, every feeling, every moment of frustration. Get it out.

Just don’t send it.