Rejection Hurts: A Cautionary Tale

April 26, 2017

I’ve just had a Wut. The. Hell? moment. Hasn’t happened in a long time, so I guess I was due. What am I talking about? The suckosity of rejection, and how authors choose to deal with it. The struggle is real, and it’s biting my butterks right now.

Lashing out over rejection. I’ve talked about it a number of times over the years. After a refreshingly long drought from nastiness, one came barreling down to the Price Batcave with enough force to roust The Rescues from their undeserved nap (after all, there is filing to be done!). Le sigh. Why, why, why do authors do this?

Here is the exchange:

Me: Thank you for writing. I’m afraid there are many, many books on ….. already on store shelves. Minus a unique hook and well-established author platform, I don’t see the qualities that make this a “gotta have it.” Best of luck to you.

This is a fairly standard rejection. It’s brief and offers my thoughts on why I rejected it, because I don’t like to leave the author wondering what elements were responsible for the rejection. When I have a hundred other queries to read, brief is my champion. Needless to say, I was shocked when the below email came blasting into my inbox:

The Author: I usually don’t bother with this kind of stuff, but really, how many of your published titles are “gotta have it” books.  How can anything you’ve said possible be of any importance to me.  If this book is not for you, then just pass on it and leave it at that.  Be an adult about it and have a little compassion for the authors who submit to you.  Seeing your titles I would think you would be a pro at turning someone down without covering your own behind.  

I am old, but what you’ve written could be devastating to a young person.

“Covering my behind”? I’m not quite sure what this even means, since I’m not obligated to justify a rejection letter. The author inquires how many of our books are “gotta have it.”

Srsly? How to answer that. Do I go for tongue-cheek?

“Well, none of them are ‘gotta have it’ books, dear author. We just publish any ol’ crud that crosses our desk.”The mind boggles.

After some thought, I decided on honest enlightenment.

Me: All of our books have “gotta have it” qualities. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have published them. My comments to you were offered as an explanation as to why it wasn’t right for us. I give these in order to help authors figure out why they’re receiving rejections, or how they may improve their query letter so as to be more successful in the future. Only in rare instances do I receive a response such as yours, because most authors want to know the reasons behind their rejections. It’s impossible for me to know who is going to take offense at constructive critique or be appreciative. But my aim for the past fourteen years has been to help authors wherever I can. Rejection hurts, but lashing out and being acutely rude to me for the shortcomings of your query letter is hardly appropriate or professional. May I offer a bit of your own advice, and act like an adult?

Considering how some editors and agents have fired back at snot-grams such as these, I felt mine was a reasonable response to someone who has an obvious aversion to rejection.

Dear Authors…we know rejection sucks stale Twinkie cream. Don’t forget, we suffer rejection as well when an agent or author decides to take the other publisher’s offer. No one is immune to the effects of, “Ah crap, lost out on that one.” But the guarantee is that the sun will continue to rise, the birds will sing, and authors will continue their search for the perfect publisher. And hopefully, there will be a love match. If not, then write something else. The trick is to remain true to your passion, and not let passion overtake your desire to punch out an editor’s lights. Because, really…it’s just plain stupid.







Just because they offered you a contract doesn’t mean you need to take it

January 6, 2012

Because I’m fairly active on the Absolute Write Water Cooler, I receive a few emails and PMs from writers wondering if Brand-Spanking-New Publisher or Known-To-Be-A-Scam Publisher is a good bet. Anyone who knows me knows that I call ’em as I see ’em. If they’re a brand new company, I look at certain parameters:

  • Who’s running the company
  • Marketing and promotion capabilities
  • Distribution
  • Editing
  • Experience

Who Runs the Joint

I admit that I’m less picky about the “who” as I am the “what” – meaning that any author should head for the hills if the publisher has proven to be a shady character. There are a number of these wastes of skin and oxygen who scam authors, close up shop, and re-invent themselves with a new company…all so they can resume their assossity with a fresh batch of authors.

Conversely, there have been some great Cinderella stories where the publisher didn’t know much of anything, but worked hard, never screwed their authors, and eventually became esteemed publishers. Off the top of my head, Dominique Raccah, who started the amazing Sourcebooks, and Ben LeRoy, publisher and all-around Good Joe, who started Bleak House Books and Tyrus Books. Neither of them knew much about the industry at the very beginning, but they are amazing people who learned, persevered, and conquered.

They understood how to pick winner books. Not all newbies have that ability. So just because a newbie publisher offered you a contract, it doesn’t mean they have the confidence to determine how it measures up against the competition.

The problem with brand new companies is that they haven’t had the time to establish a reputation. Any number of things can happen along the way:

  • Run out of money – it takes anywhere from a few months to a couple years for a newbie to eat up their initial capital. They fold up, and the author loses.
  • They didn’t do their research on the industry and had no idea that books are so hard to sell…and they run out of money. They fold up, and the author loses.
  • They didn’t appreciate the notion of “returns.” So they ship out tons of books thinking that’s money in the bank. They do the Happy Dance and sing Tra La over bottles of champagne, only to die a thousand deaths when nearly all of them come back. They fold up, and the author loses.
  • They didn’t promote or market their books, so no one knew those books existed. They depended on the author to do this. The only money the publisher makes is the sales they garnered from selling to their own authors. If you’re a publisher with the initials P and A, then you’ve made this business model to a fine art. If you’re not that publisher, then you run out of money. They fold up, and the author loses.
  • They thought Ingram and Baker & Taylor were distributors, not warehousers, so their books never saw the indoors of bookstores around the country. They fold up, and the author loses.

Do you see the trend? While you may think it’s worthwhile to give a newbie publisher a shot, it’s also more often than not achingly dicey for the author. If these publishers fold – and they do – then your book is almost surely lost because many of them don’t bother to send out letters of reversion. Without that, no other publisher will touch a book.

If the publisher goes bankrupt, the authors’ books are wrapped up in bankruptcy court.

Marketing and promotion capabilities

New publishers may have their hearts in the right place – and that’s lovely. They may be really nice – also equally lovely. But those two characteristics don’t sell books. Marketing and promotion sells books. You owe it to yourself to find out what they do to promote and market their books.

Warning: You will find that many start-ups don’t understand this. Most newbies think being “distributed” by Ingram and Baker & Taylor equals marketing and promotion. It doesn’t. For starters, they’re wholesalers, as I mentioned before, meaning they stock the book to sell to bookstores and libraries. They don’t have sales teams who actively pitch their titles to the genre buyers of libraries and bookstores.

Marketing and promoting means they send out ARCs to reviewers and media. This means printing up hundreds of books that aren’t targeted for sale. Since many new publishers are on a budget, this is a big expense that has no guarantees. I can’t stress this enough:  Your prospective publisher MUST send out ARCs.

We never know what seeds we’re dropping when we send out books out to media and reviewers, but one thing is for sure – if we don’t, then we guarantee the book remains anonymous.

Marketing and promotion doesn’t stop with sending out ARCs. Find out if your publisher will get your name into the RTIR – Radio TV Interview Report. Again, it costs money to do this, and many on a severe budget can’t afford to do this because there’s no guarantee media producers will want their authors for an interview.

Does the publisher set up book signings? Do they look for other potential readerships? Do they enter their books in reputable book competitions?


The better distributed a publisher’s books are, the more they will put into their marketing and promotion because they realize this is a major part of selling books. Their distributor expects it because it’s all about enticing book buyers placing orders. When I talk about distribution, I mean folks like IPG, Perseus, and Consortium, who represent commercial trade presses to the national and international book industry. They all have marketing staff on hand who will rip a book apart in order to find the best marketing/promo plan that will yield maximum interest from book buyers.

Not only do these companies have their in house marketing people, but they also have contracted book reps who cover the US and Canada (and other countries) territories. These are the godsends who have relationships with physical stores and talk directly to the store managers/buyers. This is especially important when a book has regional importance.

Publishers simply can’t have any hope of success if they don’t have distribution. Good distribution. Mind you, there are some horrible distributors out there who are little more than Ingram and Baker & Taylor. They don’t have sales people who actively promote their client-publishers’ books.


The dicey thing with a newbie publisher is editing. Authors have no way of knowing whether the editing is terrific or cover-your-eyes-and-scream. Best thing to do is wait until they have a few books out and actually read those books to see what they’re like. Be sure to check out the quality of the layout, cover art, spelling, pacing, flow, organization. This is extremely telling as to how they’ll treat your book.


It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know that experience is the best teacher. Even though we had great mentors when we first opened our doors, there are many things we’d do differently. There isn’t a publisher alive who won’t agree with this. However, the more they know about the industry, they’ll less those learning curves will adversely affect your book.

Think about whether you want your book to be the guinea pig for a new publisher. If so, you have an admirable intestinal fortitude, if not a lapse in judgement.


And that’s the key here. Most authors I know who have read all the minuses of a newbie publisher and still decide to go with them are all victim of “I Want It Now” Syndrome. Logically speaking, why else would an author sign with a risky, unproven publisher?

The desire to be published is as strong as the beagle’s desire to drink margaritas for breakfast, and many won’t listen to reason. They’ve been offered a contract. Someone loves them. Hurrah! They’re thinking of fame and fabulosity and completely forgetting the soul-sucking realities.

Desire is the counter punch to Common Sense. The ache and yearning is far stronger than admitting the possibility they’re headed down a road to Nowhere’s-ville…until it’s too late.

So before you lose all perspective of being offered a contract, please honor yourself and your writing by making sure your book is headed for greatness instead of a black hole.

If you have an agent, then why are you querying?

June 12, 2011

This is short and sweet: If you have an agent, then why are you querying?

I’ve received two queries this week from authors who mention that they have agents, and their names. Now this just makes me do the blink blink thing. So again I ask, If you have an agent, then why are you querying?

I will put this very simply: This is unprofessional.

For starters, why bother with an agent if you’re going rogue? To whom do I answer? What purpose does your agent serve?

This sort of thing reminds me when a friend of mine had her first baby. She was grumbling over paying him. “The nurses told me when to push, gave me meds when I needed them. They were with me the entire way. The doctor rushed in long enough to catch the baby.”

While docs may get away with this, agents don’t let the author do all the work so they can rush in and “catch the baby.”


Going rogue like this creates a lot of confusion for me. And we all know that I confuse easily.

Authors have contacted me saying that they really appreciated my crits when their agent previously queried me. They have told me how they rewrote their books based on what I had to say – and could they please re-send the rewrites. That’s really lovely my thoughts were appreciated, but those crits were forwarded to you BY YOUR AGENT. Not me. You and I don’t have a dialogue; your agent and I do.

First off, if you did a rewrite, then those rewrites need to be approved BY YOUR AGENT. Once s/he approves them, s/he re-queries if that is the agreed-upon strategy. If you contact me directly, I have no way of knowing if your agent has even seen your rewrites. Just who is running this insane asylum?

I’ve seen situations where the agents have told their authors, “You are free to query the smaller commercial presses, and I’ll concentrate on the big six.” I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to how this ‘tude would set with a smaller commercial press. Either the agent reps you or they don’t. This isn’t Let’s Make A Deal, and I can tell you that I will be underwhelmed if your agent has given you this kind of arrangement. Do you really want to face a new query with an already-irritated editor?

It’s A Protocol Thang

I know many authors are rolling their eyes because they will perceive this post as my being a Ms. Snobby Pants. But ask my mother – she’ll attest that I may be a number of things, but snobby ain’t one of ’em. Don’t ask the beagle – she’ll say anything as long as there’s booze in it for her.

Truly, this isn’t about being elitist, but about making the query process easier. If I’m dealing with the GIC (Guy In Charge), then I know to whom to direct my questions or crits. If I’m being directed back and forth, chances are I’ll lose interest.

Bottom line: If you have an agent, let them agent you. If you would like your agent to re-query an editor, then discuss it with them, and let them take the proper steps. Why? Because he has to re-sell you and re-familiarize the editor to your story.

If you have an agent who is happy to let you query on your own, I would seriously question how invested they are in your book.

Your job is to let your agent do what s/he does best. Wait it out by writing something new, but please avoid contacting the editor. It’s tacky smacky.

I know

Making a stink – know how, when, and why to do it

March 31, 2011

So Dorchester has promised to do right by its authors and pay them the royalties they are owed. Dorchester CEO Bob Anthony claims that Brian Keene’s call for a boycott of all Dorchester books because they’re selling e-books for which they don’t own the rights was “regrettable and not necessary to get our attention…”


While Dorchester was busy reinventing itself as an e-trade, they were happily ripping off countless authors by illegally selling their e-books. And those authors weren’t receiving any royalties. This abuse has gone on for far too long, without resolution. So obviously, the only conclusion one can infer is that Dorchester is stonewalling and ignoring their responsibilities to authors who are making them a lot of money.

It’s theft.

So what options are left to those who have sent countless emails and are continually are ignored? Make a public stink. There is no small amount of irony that Brian’s call to boycott coincided with Dorchester’s suddenly finding religion. There is nothing worse than being publicly called a thief or a cheat. The heat is now on them to follow through…and I hope they do.

This is definitely a double-edged sword because those who speak out carry some risk of blowback. As with any action, there can be an equally strong reaction, so one needs to be very cognizant of how, why, and when to make a stink.


I just had a very recent experience of my own where I had to go public with a serious problem with my own book. It gave me no pleasure because I hate discourse. But more to the point, I hate being screwed. My grievances were severe enough to take the step toward making an official stink.

Stealing rights, not being paid royalties…these are severe reasons to consider going pubic. Being angry because your publisher took your book out of print due to lackluster sales doesn’t meet the burden of severity. Go public with something like that, and you’re doing little more than waving your personal dirty laundry in public. No one cares or wants to see it.

The reasons should be of a contractual nature, where you can measure the severity of your grievance in dollars and sales.

Exhausting all options

But before you go charging to your local writer’s board, you really owe it to yourself and the other party to exhaust all your options. You email, or, if you’re in the same country, you call. You do this repeatedly in order to a) resolve the situation and b) set a foundation of abuse. If you’re able to maintain a dialog with the other party, then going public isn’t a good idea because there is at the very least, a line of communication. That it isn’t being resolved to your satisfaction isn’t reason enough to make a stink.

The caveat to that is if they’re bullshitting you. And by bullshitting, I mean that they are trying to re-define or re-interpret the terms of your contract. At that point, you’re at a crossroad because they’ve made it apparent that they are going to try every attempt to squeeze out of the problem via deflection. If this continues for lone enough, then it might be time for some stink-making.

Stay Calm

This is the hard part. You’re talking about a book that you sweat bullets over, and someone is messing with its viability. It’s hard to remain calm because you’re emotionally wrapped up in your book and your literary future. But you do yourself no favors when you come off like a screeching shrew and make wild personal attacks that don’t relate to the case at hand. If you truly have a legit grievance, then let those facts speak for themselves. Believe me, it’s hard to see the message through the vitriol.

Have your facts and proof

In order to make a stink, you need to fully believe that you hold the righteous and moral ground. That means you must have your facts straight and possess irrefutable proof. The first place you should go is to your contract. Language should exist that spells out the publisher’s duties and responsibilities. Your contract is your proof.

Make sure that you keep all your correspondence because it is the foundation of your claims.

The second place you should go is someone who is a very powerful, knowledgeable author advocate. They are often great resources for helping you make the right decisions in terms of recourse.

If you make a stink, expect that blowback will show itself with outrage and explanations from the other party. You need to be very certain you can refute their explanations to retain that moral ground. Let the facts speak for themselves. Anyone can explain anything, just like this ridiculous Dorchester article, to which my reply would be, “Sure. I’ll believe it when I see it.” In other words, talk is cheap. Actions are the only logical solution at this point.

Ask around, gather data

You will be surprised at the amount of information you’ll get if you ask around. “What have you heard/experienced?” are very powerful words because they verify that a pattern of abuse exists and you aren’t alone. Using my own recent experience as an example, I’d reached the point where there would be no resolution unless I made a public stink. All I had were my emails, that had been categorically ignored, and my contract.

I began asking questions of other authors with this publisher, gathering data, just to make sure I wasn’t an isolated case. That information proved to be a huge eye-opener. Based on what others were telling me, I felt I had the proper backup to go forward with my public complaint. I had the confidence to say that this wasn’t just a problem with me, but with a number of others as well. It was an established pattern.


The logical question is “Why did I do it?” What did I hope to achieve?

I’m not normally a disagreeable character – despite what the beagle says. But just like Brian Keene, I’d reached the point where there was nothing left. I was outraged at my treatment (especially since I’m in the business) and had nothing to lose at this point. I’d already written off my chances of finding resolution to the problem, so this wasn’t about revenge. It boiled down to the fact that I felt others should be warned.

In my line of work, I see far too many authors who have suffered from the arrogance, stupidity, naivete, or thievery of publishers, and I hate this. Without you fabulous writers, we’d be slinging hash in some roadside diner while forcing our errant beagles into panhandling. You should be treated with respect and honored for your talents. So my intent was to get the word out of my experience so authors could make better- informed decisions.

Hello…is anyone home??

Other reasons for making a stink is to get the other guy’s attention – such as in the Dorchester case. Nothing else was working, so why not make a huge public stink that would shame Dorchester into responding. I admit this was part of my reason as well. And yes, I had an immediate reaction which resulted in an equally immediate and amicable resolution. I was pleasantly surprised because I’d already given up my attachment to the outcome.

Do I believe the excuses given to me for my treatment? Not at all – not any more than I believe Dorchester was going to honor these authors by paying them and taking their illegal e-books off the market. I pray the Dorchester authors have an equally amicable resolution.


This is what happens when you don’t take the emotion out of your thinking. You’re pissed and want to attack and hurt the other guy. Tit for tat revenge is lame, so resist this. Personal grievances are equally lame. In truth, it’s not newsworthy and no one cares. Revenge is for the immature and unsavvy. You’re beyond this. If you’re not, eat some chocolate, have the beagle mix up some margaritas and consume at will until revenge has left your bloodstream. Yah, it’s that lame and damaging.

Is it worth it?

Stink-making takes precious time away from things that will garner far more happiness and success. To be honest, it’s a royal pain in the ass. But it can be worth it, too. So if you decide that you have no choice but to make a stink, you need to be honest about why you’re doing it, how to do it, and when to do it. In my case, I got exactly what I wanted, so it was totally worth it. I don’t have to chew the inside of my cheek in frustration anymore. I’m free. I’d forgotten what that felt like – and it’s damn nice.

But above all else, you MUST ask yourself if you’re prepared for the consequences of your actions. Consider what they might be and act accordingly. The one thing you don’t want to do is sully your own name in the process. Think about whether the other party is in a position to damage your reputation. It’s a fine line, and that’s why I say that you must maintain the higher moral, righteous ground based on facts and proof.

Don’t jump into stink-making on a whim because I promise you, it’ll bite you on the backside. And don’t make a habit of stink-making because you’ll be like the boy who cried “Wolf!” No one will believe you because you’ll be pegged as a Wendy Whiner. And no one likes a whiner.

On the other hand, no one likes being screwed. Handle this powerful tool with great care because you’re creating karma – and we all know karma can be a bitch.

Has there been a time when you were sorely tempted to make a stink and you didn’t? What held you back?

Or if you did, what compelled you to do so? How did it turn out for you and the other guy?

Editor/Author relationships – following the Yellow Brick Road

February 10, 2011

I’ve been following a rather disturbing thread on a lit site where the author and editor are pitted against each other. In retaliation, the editor dumped the author and took her book OP. My mouth fell into my lap. The beagle, at her most hungover, wouldn’t act that immaturely. It made me very sad that an editor would exact his retribution on an author who has legit complaints rather than simply fixing the problem.

It’s a given that we all may experience a clash of personalities at some point in our careers. The question is how do we behave during those crises? Do we knee-jerk and launch public attacks, naming names, lobbing bombs, and severing limbs? Or do we pick up the phone and try to work things out?

In a perfect world, we’d be boogeying down the Yellow Brick Road where authors and editors exhibit exemplary behavior and everyone is kissy facey. The sun would shine, the birds would sing, and the crickets would chirp…or do whatever crickets do. Sadly, Google Map doesn’t list directions to the Yellow Brick Road, so it’s up to us to find it on our own.


As I’ve said before, communication is the lifeblood of this industry. The minute you see a problem, you need to contact the other person. Don’t let the frustration fester and wiggle its way under your skin. It’s imperative to be completely open and honest. If you sit and stew, your hair will fall out, you’ll grow bunions, and you’ll drool. Really.

What is the goal?

The main goal for any conflict resolution is finding a common ground upon which you can both agree to fix a problem. This increases the chance for success rather than ramping up a bad situation to the point of no return. If everyone keeps their goal plastered to their monitor, it would be much easier to stay focused on solving rather than resorting to silly things like immature retaliations and such.

Shooting from the hip

Sometimes the natural reaction is to impulsively shoot from the hip when feeling maligned. Your anger or frustration is at its zenith, so the first thing you want to do is blast away with both barrels.

If you’re the recipient of a hip-shooter, don’t take responsibility for their bad behavior by escalating things to the point where things go completely out of control.

And think about it; how easy do you think it is it to talk yourself down from that particular ledge? Do you really want to go there? By giving in to this urge, are you risking your reputation? Your credibility? This is a small industry where gossip is rife. When you blast away, it’s a guarantee that others will find out about it.

And really…what does impulsive emotion-filled vitriol accomplish?

Walk, don’t talk

My advice is the same as when the beagle wants to mix champagne and margaritas…”Don’t.” Instead of talking, go walking. Or hit the gym. Do something that takes you out of your immediate (D)Anger Zone. Once it’s out of your mouth (or fingers) it’s pretty hard to take it back. Avoid having to eat your words by taking yourself out of the situation until your cooler head prevails.  Once you return with a better frame of mind, you’ll be better able to communicate effectively.

Another way of “walking instead of talking” is to go ahead and write that nastygram email to the other person. Blast them a new orifice. Question their heritage. Compare their evolutionary progress to that of a warthog. But…DO NOT HIT THE SEND BUTTON. There’s a lot of therapeutic benefit to getting it down on cyber paper. Think of it as literary soul cleansing.

Edited to add:
Better yet, don’t write that nastygram in your email program. Do it in your word processing program. As my bud Lauren sez: “It’s way too easy to hit the Send button and impossible to get it back.” Gah!

– Thanks for watchin’ my six, Lauren!

Receptivity vs. being defensive

This whole Yellow Brick Road goes both ways. If you’re an author who is upset at your editor, you need to let them know exactly what the problem is and offer ideas on how to fix it. Conversely, if someone is calling you to complain, then it’s your job to be receptive to what the other party is saying. Going into “Defensive Mode” is akin to circling the wagons around your ego. Get over yourself. Your ego is not your friend.

Be a good listener

Egos have very stubby fingers who excel at sticking them in our ears and blocking out what’s being said. Egos also have very big mouths and they’re adept at drowning out all other conversations and telling us what we want to hear. In order to affect change, you gotta listen. Talking over someone isn’t listening…it’s reacting. Give your ego the day off. Heck, send it on permanent vacation.

A few years back I had an author who was extremely upset with his sales. Even though I felt there was shared responsibility for those lackluster sales,  I let him vent because our previous distributor screwed the pooch and didn’t get the title out to the stores in time, thus creating a logjam with backorders. What did it hurt me to listen to his frustrations? He was partially right. And even if he’d been 100% wrong, the main thing I wanted him to know was that I was doing everything within my power to rectify the situation.

I’m not sure the relationship will ever be jovial, but it’s cordial and respectful. Sales are through the roof with our new distributor, so what more can anyone ask for? If I had shot back at him, where would that have taken us? There is nothing worse than reaching a point of no return.

What if there isn’t any improvement?

And speaking of the reaching the point of no return, this is the absolute worst because it means that your best efforts failed.  This is depressing because there is little you can do if the other party isn’t willing to find some common ground. What do you do? Well, not much, really. It’s a matter of perspective and coping at this point. Zero results isn’t carte blanche to be a weener. Maintain your dignity and look at your options.

Years ago I had an author who was convinced I hated him because of his prior bad behavior with an independent editor. I assured him that whatever went on with someone else had nothing to do with me. As long as we maintained a good relationship, then he could have raced through Congress wearing nothing more than a banana peel, and I wouldn’t care.

But it didn’t matter. Any time I made suggestions, he was convinced I was picking on him because hated him.  Over a couple of years, he grew quite rude, to the point where he became was abusive. No matter how much I tried to talk him down from the ledge, while harboring thoughts of smacking him upside the head and telling him to grow up, I knew the toxicity forced us to that point of no return. I didn’t see any way out of it but to cut him loose. I’ll take a lot, but I won’t take abuse. No one should.

The End Game: so now what?

Ok, so you went walking instead of talking, you listened (or tried to), you were communicative – and nothing happened. There was no improvement. Now what? Well, you’ve reached what we call a Mexican standoff – probably un-PC to say these days, but screw it, it’s my blog.

The other person is standing in granite, so it’s up to you to decide the next move. Only you can decide the right move – stick it out, leave, sue, drink heavily, whatever. In my case, there was an instance about five years ago where I decided it was best to only communicate to the author via the agent. We would have no direct contact. It chaffed me like a wet bathing suit, but it was that or seriously consider dumping the book. No one wanted that, and this ended up being a perfect option.

My point with all this is to get it out there – not all relationships will be the Yellow Brick Road – and to offer some advice on how best to maintain your dignity in a difficult situation.

If you are the object of someone’s angst, then it’s your job to learn how to behave and act like a professional. Whether you’re an author who hasn’t met your rewrite deadline, you blasted a reviewer for their bad review, you show up at your author events drunk or stoned, or a publisher who sends out wrong tax forms, don’t pay royalties, or send books out to reviewers, you have only one thing to do: Grow Up.

Your relationship may not be the Yellow Brick Road, but it sure as heckfire doesn’t need to be The Road Paved Straight To Hell either.

Writing back: Avoid temptation…

December 15, 2010

I understand that it feels good to receive a personal response to your query  –  even if it’s a rejection letter – because it explains why the query was rejected. That’s feedback you usually won’t get. I send these out with a fair amount of trepidation because I consider the chances of receiving a reply that invites me to make merry with the barnyard animal of my choosing. It happens far more than I like.

However. What about you polite ones who feel the need to thank the agent or editor for their time?

May I suggest that you sit on your hands and avoid the temptation to write back? Sure, a thank you is always nice, but it’s quite unnecessary. Remember, we have no hearts or souls – and even though you’re falling back on your good breeding, we won’t look at your thank you as anything other than another piece of email to delete. I know, it seems heartless thing to say in light of someone’s good manners,  but this is a business, not a sorority. You don’t send a thank you note to the employer who passed you over and chose someone else to fill the position, right?

In a word; we read, rejected, and moved on. And so should you.

If you receive a rejection letter that gave very specific reasons as to how it went wrong, avoid the temptation to write back a long diatribe thanking me for helping you realize that you have a good voice after all. Um, I already knew that. You don’t need to discuss your lack of platform – I’d already pointed it out. Same for the structure of your pitch and lack of highlighting the pertinent information.

And for the love of the Cosmic Muffin, PLEASE don’t tell me you’re more concerned with getting your book “out there” than you are with seeing a financial return on your book. Good holy verbs and nouns, Batman, this is literary bug repellent to an editor, and a comment like that will send her finger to the rejection button faster than the beagle can drink a pitcher of margaritas.

Money makes the world go ’round, baby, and if you aren’t in it to win it, then go to Publish America. But never, never, EVER tell anyone it’s not about the money. Until the world runs on Bing cherries, showing a financial profit is the litmus for success. And I assume success IS on your mind, right?

In short, this kind of reply is a stream-of-consciousness conversation you should be having with yourself – not me. I appreciate that you’re grateful for the feedback and that something I wrote may help you in the long run, but I’ve moved on. Really. And I don’t mean to sound like a grass licking bovine because I ADORE authors, but it’s simply the nature of the biz.

Disgusted, disillusioned, and damned angry – shame on you,

November 10, 2010

This new release was brought to my attention, and I have the sudden urge to be sick to my stomach. My very soul hurts. The product description says this:

This is my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter sentences should they ever be caught.

And this is what I have to say to author Phillip Greaves:

I weep for your victims because I know people who have suffered greatly at the hands of demented, twisted, vile minds like yours. One woman took her own life because the memories of her childhood abuse haunted her into her adult life. What do you have to say to her husband and two beautiful children, Mr. Greaves? That her abuser “appealed to his better nature” when she was all of six years old?

That twisted bastard took her childhood away in the most insidious way, yet your answer is that we shouldn’t hate these predators, that they shouldn’t do hard time for ruining a child’s ability to trust?

Are you trying to say that children – some as young as two  – want their little bodies violated? I weep at the knowledge that people like you lurk in our world, that you prey on our children, that you breathe the same air. What’s more is I weep that Amazon. com would allow such trash as your book to grace their site. Your lack of writing ability is my only saving grace – however I don’t delude myself into believing that twisted minds like yours care about syntax, spelling, or finesse.

You’re a pox on society, and I intend on letting know that I find you and your book an insult by sending them a comment in their Feedback section at the bottom of your page.

You want to know how your victims really feel? Try reading something good, something honest, a book of a brave woman who survived and thrived after a decade of abuse by the clergy and nuns. Kim Richardson’s successful life is her revenge. You, however, are a menace and a reflection of everything that’s wrong about our society. You’re an aberration, and I hope readers band together to tell exactly what they think of you and their decision to sell your filth.

Edited to add:

According to GalleyCat, Amazon’s response is that removing this garbage is tantamount to censorship. As a publisher, I’m the first one to defend the right to free speech, but where does this include advocating something that’s a federal crime? I guess clear thinking went the way of the dinosaur. Pity.

Don’t comment on Amazon…CALL THEM! and demand they take this disgusting book down. 800-201-7575. Call!

Public service reminder – email addresses

October 6, 2010

When you begin your query adventure, always make sure you have a designated email addy. If I’ve asked for pages and I see, I have no idea who that is. I might think it’s spam and let my finger hover over the delete button.

However, if you have your name in your email addy, then I’ll recognize you right away. As scrambled as my brain can be at times, I need all the help I can get. Besides, it’s professional.

More on how “they” get you…

April 2, 2010

Seems I fooled no one with my announcement that we’d gone vanity. I was a bit nervous about being too convincing, as that sort of thing can travel faster than the beagle hot on the trail of an unopened bottle of tequila. Sadly, this post is all too true…

Some folks call themselves publishers, but what they really are is marketing machines to you…the author. This is akin to looking down the barrel of your own gun and squeezing the trigger. Here’s the latest attempt at promotion designed to separate you from your money – in a shameful display of igniting hope within the hearts of those who really oughta know better.

I’manidiotPublisher will submit your book to Regis and Kelly!

Many of you have seen authors appear on one of America’s top-three daytime TV shows, Live with Regis and Kelly. Famous and not so famous. Ever wondered, how is their book any better than mine? The answer is, it probably isn’t.

I’manidiotPublisher will submit your book to Live with Regis and Kelly. We will send your book to Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa’s staff for their consideration, several copies, so that more than one producer gets a chance to read your work and recommend you for an interview!

We’re not waiting for Regis or Kelly’s producers to ask for your book. [bolding mine] We’re donating it to them. And we will let your local newspaper, radio, or TV know that your book is being submitted to Live with Regis and Kelly. So they can put a spotlight on you as a local author.

Here’s how we do it:

If you want to have books on hand, order now, and we will donate up to five copies to Live with Regis and Kelly. And you receive a 50 (that’s FIFTY) pct discount!

The books for Regis and Kelly will ship to New York shortly after you receive your own copies, for consideration at their staff’s discretion.

Minimum volume is 9 copies.

Isn’t this lovely? I guess they had such a fabulous turnout when they offered to send a copy to Sandra Bullock, who is knee-deep in dealing with a philandering toolbox of a husband who has a penchant for silicone lungs and tattoos, that they decided to spam “donate” books to Regis and Kelly. Not for one minute will their producers look at these “donations.” They’ll simply go into the recycle bin – or maybe they have a team of beagles who love to rip things to shreds.

For starters, anyone submitting to TV shows need to submit a full media kit to the producer. It’s a drunkard’s folly to think that I’manidiotPublisher will take the time to write a tip sheet and cover letter on their victims authors’ behalf. More than likely they’ll simply box up the lot of the books into one box and send it, thus satisfying the spirit of their half-baked promise.

Folks, don’t be fooled when you see stuff like this. A real publisher won’t blackmail you into buying your own books [at inflated prices] so you can get a book sent out to someone. Real publishers send out books to media all the time in order to generate interest. These yahoos, OTOH, don’t get their books into the store shelves, so their primary marketplace is their own victims authors, and they’ll stop at nothing to pimp themselves into your wallet. Sadly, it’s quite effective because there’s a sucker born every minute, or more likely, a thousand suckers born every minute.

Resistance is not futile. Learn the industry so you can separate the skanks from the real kahuna. Otherwise, you’ll be like all the other sheeple, standing in line to hand over your hard-earned dollars so that you may have your book sent to Regis and Kelly.

‘Scuse me…I feel the sudden need for an antacid.

Alice Hoffman should have taken up tennis

June 29, 2009

It’s a fact that a bad review stings. This business requires a strong backbone and nonexistent gag reflex because, at some point or another, someone is going to say something about your writing that you don’t want to hear. That’s life; 100% of the people aren’t going to like your book. Get over yourself. How you react to it is what makes you gracious under fire or a rabid gasbag. How you are perceived should matter to you because it’s everything in this business.

This article is a shining example of what I’m talking about. Alice Hoffman’s over-the-top reaction to Roberta Silman’s review of her book reveals the intelligence of a bing cherry. She is a gasbag. There are people I would NEVER work with again because they proved to be bing cherry gasbags. Gasbags don’t sell books.

But Alice didn’t stop there. She blasted Roberta’s home phone and personal email over the internet, imploring others to contact her. Whoa. Now she’s no longer just a gasbag. She’s wandered into I’manutjob Land.

Alice, here is a newsflash, darlin’; there are idiots who don’t stop at sending nastygrams, and you need to know the risks you’ve placed on this reviewer. Idiots sometimes stalk and  do horrible things. I know because I’ve had this very thing done to me, and it scared the holy hell out of me.

And what about your publisher? Have they swallowed a carton of Rolaids for the embarrassment you’ve caused them? It’s no small wonder that you are suddenly “on vacation” and your Twitter page was pulled down.

I’ll tell you what; if you were my author, you’d be on something more permanent than a vacation. You’d be out on your butt. It wouldn’t matter how much money your book makes – who needs a psycho? You’ve ruined your reputation to the point where I’m hearing, “Whoa. What a bitch. I wouldn’t buy her book if it were the last thing in the store.” Your kind of nuttery doesn’t sell books, so who needs you?

Authors who feel the need to vent at a rejection or bad review should use that pent-up energy by smacking a tennis ball around or jogging. If you’re hurting, keep your feet moving and your mouth shut.

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