Mr. Grouchy Pants

You no spamma it?

It’s frustrating to be judged based on assumptions. Case in point; I received a query this morning at the same time I happened to be going through my inbox. Since my morning was still relatively uncomplicated, I took the time to read the query and a few paragraphs of the work. Right away, I could tell it wasn’t a project we’d be interested in doing, so I went ahead and wrote a polite rejection letter and wished him all the best of luck finding the perfect home for his work.

A couple hours later, another email from the author plunked into my inbox, which said:


Um. Excuse me? The first thought that popped across my quasi-firing synapses was, Gee, would he have felt better if I’d taken five months to reply? Or not reply at all?

Just what is the proper waiting time to send a rejection letter anyway? I’ll have to consult my Emily Post book of etiquette – though I’m pretty sure she doesn’t cover this specific problem.

This is one of those frustrating Damned If You Do/Damned If You Don’t situations. I’ve had nastygrams for not getting back to an author in a timely manner, and now I’m getting nastygrams for replying too quickly. Too early to mainline cheap gin?

I wonder what the author was trying to accomplish. Sure, he’s welcome to take my name in vain (and why not – the Rescue Beagles do it all the time), and stomp about at experiencing the fastest rejection evah, but that and Midol won’t change the outcome. In truth, it doesn’t matter if I read it or not (I did); it’s still a rejection. Does he think sending a snotgram will bring me to my knees and bet forgiveness? Will it make him feel better? The professional simply picks up and moves on.

We are all painfully aware that publishing is a frustrating business, and emotions can get the better of writers. But to lash out before thinking it through will make you look the fool…or the topic of someone’s blog post. This goes for the lousy review, too. It sucks stale Twinkie cream to get a bad review, but the only choice you have is to grit and grin through it. Don’t become known for being a Mr. Grouchy Pants.

So I’m still trying to figure out the proper response time for a rejection, since none of the etiquette sites covers this. As for the appropriate reply, my friend Dodin Oga offered the best one of all: Please disregard the rejection letter. I will send another one in three months. Hope that helps.


7 Responses to Mr. Grouchy Pants

  1. Eureka! Why not offer to update Emily Post or at least her book? Chapter heading: The fine art of rejecting – dust off that egg timer, and timely respond back based on how many words have been submitted. Example: 500 words = response time of 500 minutes. Anything over 500 words? No response necessary.

  2. ericjbaker says:

    Oh dear. I know as well as any writer the frustration of rejection, but that’s a bad case of myopia. No one is anyone else’s whole world, least of all in business.

  3. LindaGHill says:

    Too bad you can’t attach stale Twinkie cream to an electronic rejection letter. You could make it your personal proof that yes, you read it, and no, you didn’t want it. 😛
    I’m definitely going to follow your blog closely now that I’ve found you. In a purely unstalkerish way of course. 🙂

  4. You’re right about one thing and wrong about another:

    First, it’s never too early to mainline any kind of gin.

    And as for the latter: Midol always changes the outcome.

  5. Quick is good. Waiting is murder. That author should have sent you a note of gratitude, if he felt so moved to comment at all.

  6. livelytwist says:

    Had a good ‘ole chuckle. Maybe he ‘really’ wanted to know!

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