The tale of two authors

There are authors who refuse to take no for an answer. But it doesn’t always stop at my snarling at them with drippy fangs and a cat ‘o nine tails. It depends on their personalities.

Author #1

This guy made my Vickie Secrets bunch up something fierce because he was arrogant, dismissive, and assumptive. As in, “Seriously, looking at my pages won’t cost you one penny.”

Huh? For starters, he has no idea what it’ll “cost” me to look at his pages. Just because I rejected one work doesn’t mean that he automatically has my ear for his other work. It makes me cranky. I don’t appreciate dealing with flippant people who don’t respect me or my job. His comment suggests that I am sitting on my bumpershoot just waiting, breathlessly, for his tome.

“I think that once you read my pages, you’ll agree that this is a winner.”

Know how many times I hear that, or some variation? Can we say h-u-b-r-i-s? Even if I felt my writing came from the Cosmic Literary CEO himself, there is no way I’d say it to an agent or editor. Geez, that’s just begging for maniacal laughter followed by a, “Oh reeeeally now?”

The end result is that he makes no attempt at empathy, so already I don’t want to work with this lugnut. How much further he would have gotten had he taken this tact: “Hey, I really appreciate your feedback on my first book’s pages. May I query you with my second one in the series? It’s a stand alone.”

Instead he got a terse reply that will either offend him or jolt him into thinking about how he treats people. Or, Cosmic Muffin, he queries me.

Author #2

Author #2 did things way backasswards and broke every rule there is. She wasn’t finished with the project and, in this case, it really needed to be complete. Nor was her query short and sweet. In fact, it went on forever. But her voice was so endearing and gracious, that I was pulled in. I read it to the very end.

Oh, how my finger hovered over the reject letter. But something stayed my hand. It was her gentle persistence that she really had something quite lovely and important. I agreed.

Instead, I emailed her back. We struck up a bit of correspondence so I could dig a little deeper. I told her I wasn’t sure whether to be pissed or charmed at her lack of protocol. Her reply was to willingly expose her jugular for my blade. Crikey, it’s just like what Mom said when I was readying to kill my brothers. “Lynn, if you don’t give them anything to push against, they’ll stop pushing.”

Of course it was her story that captured my attention, but it was her demeanor that kept me on board for way longer than I would have normally done for anyone. There were any number of times in the beginning that I felt I needed to reject the work, but she just wouldn’t take no for an answer.

Her demeanor was one of gratitude [and, ok, the raw brilliance of her writing didn’t hurt one bit]. I wanted to help her, to shape this lovely story into the great beauty I think it will be. It’s fallen apart for now, but I told her to contact me the minute it’s done. I would love to work with her – even though she queried me in the very manner I detest and broke all the rules.

So if you ever begin to wonder about those nice guys finishing last, take comfort in knowing that it’s the buttheads who are the losers. This business is tough enough without having to deal with difficult personalities. I like proactive, not pushy. I like confidence, not arrogance. I like a gracious attitude, not God’s greatest gift.

And it also takes talent. Talent is what separates the “forgive me, Father, for I have sinned” from the “Yup, I’m stoopid and don’t care.” And it’s the attitude that forces me to remember that somewhere deep, in the depths of my black soul, that I really do have a heart for good people. Only don’t spread that around.

7 Responses to The tale of two authors

  1. catwoods says:

    Thanks for proving editors have hearts! I was afaid it was a myth : )

  2. Voidwalker says:

    It goes a long way with me to hear that her attitude and good writing helped her so much, even though she messed up a bit with the logistics of it all. I usually try to keep things lighthearted respectful, so it gives me hope that if I’ve overlooked something in the submission expectations, that maybe, just maybe, I’ll still have a chance.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Jane Smith says:

    Catwoods, it’s true that Lynn has a heart–it’s just encased in ice and made of steel!

    Joking apart, she is as usual spot-on with this article. Confidence is one thing, arrogance is another: but charm and grace work wonders when coupled with talent.

    My fingers are crossed for your second author, Lynn. Sadly, I don’t think even Superman is going to be able to help your first.

  4. Jane, as always, has me figured out with alarming accuracy. I think Ms. Second Author is going to whip her book into shape and be a very successful author. No one who writes that well should remain unpublished.

    Cat: that heart thing…it’s our secret, yes?

    Void: it all comes down to this, decency and ability. We will let you stumble through a query letter if you have something of real substance and show that you know how to write like the wind. To do anything else would be cutting off our noses just to spite our face…and possibly a very good book.

  5. lbdiamond says:

    Great post! Hmmm, nice guys finish last–but they finish!! This is very encouraging indeed. Perseverance WILL pay off.

    Thank you!

  6. Nina Killham says:

    I’m so glad I found your blog. Very interesting! It’s so helpful to hear an editor’s point of view. Thanks.

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