Friday, August 27, 2010

The rudest possible rejection letter

This morning I received the rudest rejection letter from an agent that I pitched to at RWA Nationals.  The reply was in response to a request for a full manuscript, which I had just sent. Here it is, in its entirety, cut and pasted directly from my email:

So, in other words, most of those who you pitched at the RWA have rejected
you and now you have decided to skim the bottom of the bucket? It doesn't
work that way, my friend. I asked you to send me a complete which I assumed
was completed when you pitched me last month. What has happened in the
interim that has forced you to us. That story might be one story that I'd
like to hear. Otherwise, I'm sorry.

And while I'm not above mocking, snarking, satirizing, or venting, I am not replying to this jackass.

I will tell you, my blog, "What has happened in the interim that as forced {me} to {them}":

1. The manuscript that I did pitch was complete. But possibly not polished. I hadn't read through it in its entirety for a long while. And I wanted to put my best work forward. So I didn't email it upon returning to my hotel room. Instead, I read it. And polished it. I fixed typos, removed one place where I had accidentally left {insert research here} from an earlier draft, added a cover page and made sure the formatting and chapter numbering were right (and sequential, LOL). So, shame on me for pitching something that needed work. Not scenes, not re-writes, just polish.

2. I arrived home from Nationals into crunch time at work. I have a day job, and not of the waiting-tables variety. I am a software engineer and the lead over four other software engineers on a project with an August 18 deadline. I worked overtime for two weeks, making sure we met our deadline. Missing it costs our group tens (or possibly hundreds) of thousands of dollars in fees. A hell of a lot more than what my one manuscript is likely to earn should it sell. (Not that those fees go to my pocket, but they do help insure that we have another contract, and thus, a job)

Oh yeah, and this day job pays my mortgage and provides health insurance for my family, including a child with major medical problems. Ditching the day job to submit a manuscript to an agent who, statistically, is likely to reject it anyway is a bit lower on the priority list.

3) The weekend after Nationals was a family reunion. In another state. I actually got a lot of reading and polishing done in the car on that trip (much to my husband's annoyance). The weekend after that was girl scout camp. Did I mention that I have a day job? If I can't write on the weekends, then I can't write. And my family is important to me. Far more important than a novel will ever be.

4) School started. For stay-at-home moms and work-from-home moms, this is a time to rejoice. For those of us who have to re-adjust our work schedule to be available for drop off/pick up, and need to find time to go school shopping (to uniform stores with limited hours, doctor appointments, supplies, gym shoes...), its a source of stress. The first day of school was the day of my work deadline (I didn't get to either drop my daughter off or pick her up that day because I was at work).

5) Child's birthday. Which becomes a multi-part event with families spread out (and I still haven't sent out invitations to her classmates for the third round).

6) All that querying and being rejected by other agents took a bite out of my time. Um, wait a minute. I didn't query any other agents. I didn't pitch any other agents. I submitted a single partial to a single requesting editor. Then I finished polishing the rest of the novel and mailed it out. Yesterday. I guess its good I didn't have to wait 4-6 weeks for this gem of an email.

I honestly had my reservations about this particular agent after the pitch. I wasn't sure it would be a good fit for me given what and how I want to write. And he didn't even want to hear about the manuscript I was pitching. I got the distinct impression that he was looking for a meal ticket, not an author to represent.

I guess my instincts were right. I will never work with this person. After all, in his own words, he is "the bottom of the bucket".


Shawntelle Madison said...

That is a can of crazy. That is not a professional way to reply to an author. I'd be livid. I''m so sorry they did that to you Kristi.

Amanda said...

They should be glad you decided to take the time to reread it and submit your best work. I'm sorry that you had a bad experience.

Robin Bielman said...

Wow. I'm sorry too, Kristi. It's his loss. Best wishes on your next query.