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Cyia
12-01-2009, 11:37 PM
people who really don't want to hear the truth about things?


Green Newbie (name changed so as not to embarrass) got a very nice, professional, form rejection. Real agent, real agency, because she did her homework and knows who to send to. (This is a kid, here - very new at this).

It was the basic: Thank you for giving us the opportunity... we have to be selective because we already have a large list of clients... keep trying kind of thing. The kind of letter you file away in the "R" pile and move on.

Only --

She's convinced she wasn't rejected at all, just put on a waiting list. (Until such time as there are fewer people on that large list.)

This reminds me of something my mom said when I sent my first submissions off (as a teenager who knew nothing about what she was doing or that there was even a place to get info). She'd read my rejection letters (I think I got 5 or so) that had the "we generally only read material from agents" and think that translated into some secret code that meant the book was good enough (not by a long shot, but what did I know?) but they weren't allowed to look at it. (Nice conundrum there, no? They couldn't look at it, but it was great!)

Apparently that's not as isolated an incident as it would seem as one of the agent blogs I read had a similar entry about a woman who was certain her rejection letter was telling her all she needed was an agent and they'd get the contract right out to her.


So how do you deal with people who refuse to hear the truth? That sometimes a form is a form and not a golden ticket? Do you try to explain it? Or do you smile and nod and let them exist in their happy place until reality hits?

Shadow_Ferret
12-01-2009, 11:42 PM
So... what you're saying is, that rejection I got today from Rich Henshaw. He DIDN'T put me on a waiting list until such a time as he can take me on?

Cyia
12-01-2009, 11:43 PM
Nice job outing yourself Green Newbie ;)

smcc360
12-01-2009, 11:44 PM
It's something everybody has to learn on their own. The lesson doesn't take otherwise.

But I do feel bad for them, because false hope is worse than no hope at all.

icerose
12-01-2009, 11:51 PM
As with anything, I lay it to the straight. If they don't want to hear it, I bid them good luck and move on. It's a waste of my time if they aren't willing to listen, but I couldn't live with myself if I fed them the party line either.

DeleyanLee
12-01-2009, 11:51 PM
Depends on how I feel about the person, honestly.

If I like them, then I'll try to explain the real world to them, at least for a while. If they're still stubborn, they can have their dream world. I just wait however long before I can smirk when they finally discover the truth and then help them figure out how to pick up the pieces of their shattered illusions.

If I don't like them, then I'll give it a cursory try to explain the real world to them, fully expecting to be rebuffed and argued with. Then I let them stew in their own juices and don't usually wait around to see what happens.

If I really dislike them, then I keep my mouth shut to start with.

JoNightshade
12-01-2009, 11:56 PM
Hey, everybody's gotta learn. Sometimes it takes longer for some than for others. When I first started querying I didn't know jack, my book sucked, and I was doing it completely wrong. Ultimately, that was okay. I figured out how this stuff goes around the same time I started realizing my words were not divinely inspired. So my initial efforts were basically just experience. And since my book sucked it didn't really matter; I wasn't burning any bridges. It was practice.

Wayne K
12-02-2009, 12:33 AM
A drowning man will grab even the edge of a sword.

I've needed to grab it a few times myself to keep myself going, so Yeah, I do feel for the person.

Do I think they're going to be seriously disappointed someday? Yeah, I say that from experience. I guess that's why I feel for them.

DeleyanLee
12-02-2009, 12:43 AM
I don't feel sorry for them. There's simply so much easily accessible information about such things available (unlike back in the stone age when I started writing--back when the cost of stamps was a single-digit), that I find it hard to feel for them when they ignore/refuse explanations. I'm a technophobe, I don't web-crawl (or whatever it's called today) and I can still find the references.

Nope. Don't feel sorry for them. And if they're persistently willfully stupid, I can enjoy laughing at them.

scarletpeaches
12-02-2009, 02:05 AM
No, I don't feel sorry for them at all.

Nothing wrong with making mistakes - we all do. As long as we learn from them, that's the main thing.

But if you ask "What does this mean?" and refuse to accept the truth when it's staring you in the face - that a no is a no is a no - then you're stupid and I don't have time for stupid people.

Or the deluded.

Harsh?

Well - if you think I'm harsh, wait 'til the rejections start mounting up. That's when it's really gonna sting.

Phaeal
12-02-2009, 02:06 AM
I've always read "no" to mean "no." I think I lost my rose-colored glasses when Michael Baker clouted me with his bookbag in first grade and gave me an enormous shiner. Or maybe it's because I was raised before the Age of Entitlement, by strict Irish fatalists. Or maybe my post-Michael Baker glasses don't allow wishful reading between the lines. Go know.

It's not so bad, really, because reading "no" as a simple "no" also prevents the dreaded Reading-No-As-No-Never-You-Talentless-Slut Syndrome.

Anyhow. I think newbies should be gently educated into telling the difference between a form letter and a personal letter*, and into knowing there's no shame in getting the form.

Oh, and that "no" means "no this time." Say thanks and persevere. Double oh, and that agents and editors aren't shy. If they want you to submit more pieces, or the same piece revised, they'll say so. Not that the absence of said invitation should mean you never submit anything to them again. But a request is a little extra bit of encouragement that should be savored for what it's worth. And mentioned in the next cover letter. ;)


* A bona fide, no doubt about it personal letter must contain more information about the submitted piece than the author's name and the piece's name. By which I mean, information that proves the piece was read and considered. Such as "I thought that ending the story right at the meeting of Ed and Jean was too abrupt. Maybe this is where the story should start?"

MaryMumsy
12-02-2009, 05:22 AM
My reading of the OP was that this is a young person, maybe very young. They will interpret things differently than those of us who are older and more cynical. I think it needs to be explained to them that this is just a no. Perhaps nicer than some of the nos I have seen referenced various places, but still no. If they think they are on a 'waiting list', they may just hang around not writing anything new or sending out more queries.

MM

The Lonely One
12-02-2009, 05:26 AM
I think often it is difficult to watch such harshness, but the world will teach us of itself. Burning stoves are red, but just in case, they are also hot. I feel this system of checks and balances has worked well.

Quossum
12-02-2009, 07:10 AM
I think it's reasonable to explain patiently and kindly to that person what it really means, but if they're convinced otherwise...no, I wouldn't feel bad, and I wouldn't keep at it with them. Everyone has to learn at their own pace.

Feel sorry for them? Oh, maybe a little, especially if they're young and naive. Hey, when I was young (about 13 or 14), I had a poem "published" in one of those terrible "pay for the $60 book and we'll publish your poem in 7 pt. text on p. 7568" things. I was oh so proud! (Yes, Mom and Dad equally proudly shelled out the $60.) Now, I blush horribly to even think of that whole thing, but if someone had tried to explain what was really going on to me back then, I don't think it would have sunk in properly.

--Q

AKONI
12-02-2009, 07:22 AM
Most people are stupid. If I like them I tell them the truth. If I don't like them I'm not here to give them an education.


If you like the person why are you asking anyone if you should do the right thing?

Gillhoughly
12-02-2009, 11:54 AM
So how do you deal with people who refuse to hear the truth?

That depends on the person.

For your green newbie I would tell her flat out that there is no such thing as a "waiting list" for literary agents.

It's just not profitable, and agents DO want to make money on a sale.

If a book is publishable and is something the agent knows she can sell, then she WILL snap it up before anyone else has the chance.

Tell your friend that "Thank you for giving us the opportunity... we have to be selective" is equal to getting an "I'll call you" at the end of a first date instead of a smoakin' hot smooch. It's meant as a polite let down.


If it's a writer who just doesn't know how things work I point them at the 808 section of the library and suggest they read the whole thing.

I remind others that publishing is a business, and the only way to sell is to make sure their words are such as to be worth something to a publisher. Clearly a rejection means they need a rewrite or to write something else.

I have dealt with the truly blind ones with wet feet who can see pyramids, and they are not fun. If they are that oblivious to the bleeding obvious, then you release them into the wild and go on your way. Those I use as cautionary tales to others.

Of course, the real nasty obnoxious ones I point toward Harlan Ellison with instructions to ask him where he gets all his ideas for all his Star Trek novels.

Then I run like hell the other way. :evil

Stijn Hommes
12-02-2009, 02:22 PM
Life is too short to deal with such people. I feel sorry for them, but unless they are enlightened, there is very little I can do.

seun
12-02-2009, 05:33 PM
Not long after I joined here, I read a sample in SYW that was shit. There's no two ways around it. It was shit. Various posters politely explained to the writer that their piece was nowhere near publishable standard and to keep going until they reached that level. The writer refused to see what was wrong with their work and lashed out at everyone. They were promptly banned.

That's stayed with me for the last few years because it was a such a perfect example of the writer who can't accept they're not as good as they thought and believes that it's everyone else who doesn't get their work. I don't know if that person has improved either their writing or their attitude (I hope so), but if not, there's sod all anyone can do to help them.

Quossum
12-03-2009, 04:04 PM
Not long after I joined here, I read a sample in SYW that was shit. There's no two ways around it. It was shit. Various posters politely explained to the writer that their piece was nowhere near publishable standard and to keep going until they reached that level. The writer refused to see what was wrong with their work and lashed out at everyone. They were promptly banned.

That's stayed with me for the last few years because it was a such a perfect example of the writer who can't accept they're not as good as they thought and believes that it's everyone else who doesn't get their work. I don't know if that person has improved either their writing or their attitude (I hope so), but if not, there's sod all anyone can do to help them.

This reminds me...

I'm much too intimidated to participate in SYW here on AW. But, on another board I sometimes frequent (how's that for an oxymoron?), over in the General Chat section, one of the participants posted a chapter or two from a novel she was writing and asked for critiques, sounding like she wanted serious feedback. In keeping with the general tone of that board, most of the replies were along the lines of, "This is SO wonderful!" "I LOVED everything about it!" "This tugged at my heartstrings!"

I, on the other hand, praised the work where warranted (it wasn't total crap), then gave a careful, thoughtful critique in AW style (as well as recommending the site to her).

She wrote back hotly and defensively, dismissing every point I'd made because I SO obviously couldn't possibly understand the culture she was writing about, and how it all made sense in that context and there's no way she could change this or that...

Obviously, what she'd really wanted was the warm fuzzies the others were willing to provide. Aside from regretting the time and effort I'd put into my critique, I just shrugged it off. Some people aren't quite ready for the truth, or they just don't want to learn at all, content in the bubble of blissful ignorance they've created.

--Q

scarletpeaches
12-03-2009, 04:25 PM
I say let them get on with it. More room for me in the world of publication if the precious snowflakes won't change a word of their Golden Prose.

Rhoda Nightingale
12-03-2009, 06:01 PM
If they "don't want to hear the truth" from a real agency/publisher/editor/whoever, they aren't going it hear it from me either. I'm not published, after all--what do I know? But I'd still try. And yeah, I feel a little sorry for them, but only a little. I'd rather they step aside so those of us who take this writing thing more seriously can get to work.

scarletpeaches
12-03-2009, 08:21 PM
Yeah I've had that too. "I'm new at this; how long have you been trying to get published?"

So I was like, "You think I'm harsh? Wait 'til an agent or publisher gets to your work." One person I can think of pulled the same drama queen act with some agents as she did with me. Apparently I made her want to give up writing.

On her blog, weeks later, she complained in the same way about some agents who had knocked her back, one, apparently, quite severely.

Well, dear. I might not be published yet but I've sold two books for someone else - what have you done lately besides whinge about how the entire industry's out to get you?

DeleyanLee
12-03-2009, 08:28 PM
Yeah I've had that too. "I'm new at this; how long have you been trying to get published?"

I love this line, especially after it comes after gushing over something I've written. "That was so good. How long have you been trying to get published? Why aren't you published yet?"

It's just great to see their faces when I answer, "Well, I got my first rejection letter in 1975. You know that there's no guarantee, right?"

It's especially fun when I got my first rejection letter before they were born. One time, I'd gotten it before their mother was born.

Gotta love this modern entitlement movement (NOT).

Gillhoughly
12-03-2009, 08:39 PM
After two years of subbing to publishers, the first agent I tried (he was later involved with Edit Ink, but another writer recommended him back then) told me something useful.

"You're a good writer but unpublishable."

Since this was before email I couldn't ask for a clarification of such a ridiculous and contradictory summation.

I was disappointed and ANGRY. I was so angry I decided to FEED him his words, ramming them and my MS down his throat.

I rewrote the book all over again, snarling and grumping all the way, along with a few muttered, "I'll show that b______!"

The next time out it got rejected, but the editor gave me a tiny but telling, "I couldn't sympathize with the MC."

I put in ONE line to make him sympathetic.

The next time out it sold, landing me a multi-book contract.

Had I kept my *precious words* intact and ignored everyone, I wouldn't be here or have this life.


Never rammed them down his throat. Never sent him an "Nyah, that showed you" letter. I figured he'd have forgotten me, and if not, then seeing my book on the racks would be enough.

I really need to THANK him. How's that for irony? http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/icons/icon10.gif

scarletpeaches
12-03-2009, 08:43 PM
Oh in my case it was with a sense of, "I've only just started and you've been at this for years so clearly you don't know what you're talking about."

Thing is, she'd been writing for three, four years? And learned nothing. And it's true. Anything I wrote before 2008 was crap. And I'd have loved someone to tell it like it is before then. I wasted so much time.

I can kinda see her point in a way but the message doesn't change just because of the messenger. And those agents? They all made exactly the same points I had before she subbed her novel (against my advice).

But she listened to them!

Then went running back to her warm-and-fuzzies buddies, who tell her, "You're doing great!" and "Keep up the good work!"

All very encouraging (in the sense of helping her lick her wounds) I'm sure, but how much closer is she to publication? How much closer is she to writing another, better novel?

Not very, I'd bet.

And me? Ask me again in a month when I hear back from a particular publisher. ;)

DeleyanLee
12-03-2009, 08:47 PM
There's a story my dad used to tell me when I was little that always stuck with me.

A master violinist performed at a concert. Afterward, a young man rushed up to him and gushed, "I want to be a great violinist just like you!"

The master looked him in the eye for a moment then said, "You haven't got the fire for it" and turned away.

Crushed, the young man went home, took a hard look at his desire, his talent and gave it up. He focused on his father's business and made it into a force to be reckoned with within the community.

Ten years later, the young man meets the master violinist at a reception. "Ten years ago, I told you I wanted to be a great violinist just like you and you told me I didn't have the fire. How did you know?"

The master chuckled. "I tell everyone who says such things to me that they don't have the fire. Those who believe me never did. Those who deny it stoke the fire higher and pursue their dream and I'm always happen to be wrong."

The moral I took from that story: It's never the advice that makes the difference, it's the response to that advice.

scarletpeaches
12-03-2009, 08:49 PM
True dat.

Absolutely true.

I don't want to keep picking on this same person, but she epitomises everything you've just said. No one could ever stop me writing. Absolutely no one.

This other person? Every knockback she gets elicits a, "You made me want to stop writing!"

Well if that's the case, you're not a writer, love. You're a whinger. Now step aside and leave your space for someone who wants it badly enough.

Fran
12-03-2009, 08:54 PM
I think it depends WHY they refuse to acknowledge rejection or criticism. If it's simply enormous arrogance I'm not at all sympathetic, but I do have some sneaking pity for the ones who are simply delusional, because I spend the vast majority of my waking life in delusion* so I get it.

*Not about writing, though. At the moment I'm enjoying a particularly nice train of thought involving a beautiful wee flat in Lille and an as-yet-undiscovered handsome man. When I should be stapling stuff together. :)

Rhoda Nightingale
12-05-2009, 01:32 AM
This other person? Every knockback she gets elicits a, "You made me want to stop writing!"

Well if that's the case, you're not a writer, love. You're a whinger. Now step aside and leave your space for someone who wants it badly enough.
Exactly. I don't remember who said this--some screenplay writer who posted an angry blog about why he didn't want random people to give him scripts to read anymore--but the gist of it was, if he could convince you to give up writing, you were never meant for it in the first place. Couldn't agree more. If you have the drive, no one can get you to give it up. All the criticism will just make you fight harder.

(And I'm not going to mention a certain YA fantasy author who "wanted to stop writing" after a certain internet leak happened, no I'm not....)

mscelina
12-05-2009, 01:55 AM
It's hard to generate sympathy for people who just don't want to--or are incapable of--listening to the truth. Like the member of my family *coughcoughmotherinlawcough!* who asked me to proof her manuscript *coughcoughcrapcough* and rejected my edit because I didn't know what I was talking about *coughprofessionaleditorcough* and then signed with a publisher *coughPAcough* and claims to be published.

*cough*

Yeah. I'm kind of allergic to people who can't handle the truth. When I first got published, a girl whose novel I critiqued at another site launched into a diatribe on her Livejournal about how unfair it was that a mean person like me could get published whereas she, who was always nice and kind, couldn't get anyone to even look at her novel.

I can find amusement pretty much everywhere I go. Unfortunately, the hardest thing to convince a new writer of is the steel-plated skin they have to grow in order to succeed. Some get it. *shrug* Some don't.

jennontheisland
12-05-2009, 01:55 AM
These are the same authors who talk about their books as their babies. I have no fucking patience for them.

I was told by my father that unlike him, I could never be a writer. To date, he's got at least two novel manuscripts and a multitude of short stories. Me, I have one novel and a couple shorts. Which of us could be a writer? Well, I'm the only one with rejection letters.

Mr Flibble
12-05-2009, 02:07 AM
Yeah. I'm kind of allergic to people who can't handle the truth.

That's the allergy that's giving you that nasty coughing fit?

Newbies, yeah I have sympathy if it's just a matter of they haven't learnt yet. We all have a rude awakening at some point, for some it's earlier, for some it's later.

If they don't learn from that though, sympathy kind of dies a death.


It's never the advice that makes the difference, it's the response to that advice. Precisamally

Brindle MacWuff
12-05-2009, 02:14 AM
And me? Ask me again in a month when I hear back from a particular publisher. ;)

I shall, dear SP, and ask me at the end of next week whenI hear back form a certain agent... *cough*

I have some sympathy for the learners, but it soon dissipates if they don't bloody well listen to those who have been at it for a few years. We know. And yes, everything I wrote for three years before 2008 was absolute donkey cack. But it had to be done. I knew I could do better. So I kept hammering away and served my apprenticeship. I picked every sentence apart and found out when it did and didn't work.

I went over my submitted ms and liked it. I actually liked it! That's never happened before. That’s when I stopped.

It's been bloody tough. Sometimes I want to block out how difficult it has been. But I'm still smiling. Nearly there!!!

Bring on the dancing girls!

Chasing the Horizon
12-05-2009, 03:18 AM
No one could ever stop me writing. Absolutely no one.
Me either. I got horrible, hurtful 'feedback' on a piece of my early writing once (some justified and some completely unjustified). I was furious, and vividly imagined shoving a hardcopy of the MS up the asses of several people. But the idea of quitting writing never crossed my mind.

I have no sympathy for anyone who talks about quitting. If you can quit, then you were never really a writer to start with.

kuwisdelu
12-05-2009, 03:29 AM
Ferrets can have agents?

:Huh:

MGraybosch
12-05-2009, 03:40 AM
people who really don't want to hear the truth about things?

No. In fact, I try to avoid such people. They make me stabby, especially when they're my day job's clients. :evil