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Dancre
08-11-2011, 09:06 PM
I wonder how those 60 agents who rejected the book, The Help, are feeling now? 60 agents rejected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, calling it dull, boring, uninteresting. That same 'dull, boring and uninteresting' book has now sat on the New York Times for 100 weeks, been made into a movie and might be up for an oscar. I wonder how many of those 60 agents are now eating ice cream and sobbing into their computers?

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/poweryourfuture/kathryn-stocketts-the-help-turned-down-60-times-before-becoming-a-best-seller-2523496/?posted=1

Ah . . . life can be so good. There's hope for every writer. 61 is just around the corner!! Never give up, never surrender!!

Shadow_Ferret
08-11-2011, 09:37 PM
That's just how it is. I'm sure they don't spend much time second guessing themselves. It just goes to show this isn't a science. And tastes vary.

Me. I've never even heard of this book until now.

gothicangel
08-11-2011, 09:39 PM
been made into a movie and might be up for an oscar.

How can a movie 'might be up for an Oscar' when it's six months before the shortlist is announced. Though I will give my tip Steven Speilberg's War Horse.

And no, agents don't get all depressed over rejections. That just happens to us writers. ;)

Phaeal
08-11-2011, 09:41 PM
If the agents have been in the business any length of time, I imagine they're mostly shrugging it off. Each agent has to decide whether she thinks a book excites her enough to go to war for it, whether she thinks it's commercial, whether it's something she can sell, given her contacts. There are few break-out bestsellers that don't go through a bunch of agents before hitting the right desk -- if you can't accept that you might miss some, you probably won't stay in the agenting game long.

Besides, I doubt all 60 agents called the book "dull, boring, uninteresting." I'll bet most of the rejections were blandly polite forms. In fact, the first rejection quote mentioned in the article, "Story did not sustain my interest," is echt-formspeak.

The ultimate point of the article is not that agents were sobbing and hitting the Cherry Garcia. It's that you should never give up on a book you believe in.

When my own success story comes out, I'll get to say "Thank God for Agent Number 223." And I'm very far from holding the most-rejections record. ;)

quicklime
08-11-2011, 10:37 PM
I wonder how those 60 agents who rejected the book, The Help, are feeling now? 60 agents rejected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, calling it dull, boring, uninteresting. That same 'dull, boring and uninteresting' book has now sat on the New York Times for 100 weeks, been made into a movie and might be up for an oscar. I wonder how many of those 60 agents are now eating ice cream and sobbing into their computers?

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/poweryourfuture/kathryn-stocketts-the-help-turned-down-60-times-before-becoming-a-best-seller-2523496/?posted=1

Ah . . . life can be so good. There's hope for every writer. 61 is just around the corner!! Never give up, never surrender!!


I think Rowling got nearly as many rejections. for his shorts, King had a nail tacked in the wall he hung rejection slips on until their weight BENT the nail....then he pounded in a new one.

Rejection, like shit, happens. And in this case, as well as Rowling's, I have no idea how many times over those 60 she revised the book and/or the query letter. Or how many were simply the wrong fit. Or not taking new writers.

You are right, there is always hope, but those are all variables to consider.

Ambitious
08-12-2011, 12:26 AM
All it takes is one agent. I guess the other sixty do feel a bit silly but they're probably used to it.

Dancre
08-12-2011, 12:29 AM
I heard about the Oscar from one of the TV Morning shows. It's a rumor that is circling Hollywood.


How can a movie 'might be up for an Oscar' when it's six months before the shortlist is announced. Though I will give my tip Steven Speilberg's War Horse.

And no, agents don't get all depressed over rejections. That just happens to us writers. ;)

BAY
08-12-2011, 12:30 AM
Writer's need this type of story to pop up once in a while. Thanks for posting it.

suzie
08-12-2011, 12:39 AM
I think 'The Help' highlights how subjective books are - just because an agent doesn't like it, it doesn't mean it's not any good - it's just not to their taste... also, agents have to believe in a product in order to be able to sell it effectively. Therefore, had agents 1-60 taken it on, because of their lack of faith to begin with, odds are it probably wouldn't have done as well as it has x

Dancre
08-12-2011, 12:39 AM
That's why I posted the post in the first place and why I included "never give up, never surrender". Too many writers give up after a few rejections. But I sure would hate to turn on the TV and see the book I had rejected be on the big screen. Yes, I'm sure it happens all the time, but still . . .




It's that you should never give up on a book you believe in.

When my own success story comes out, I'll get to say "Thank God for Agent Number 223." And I'm very far from holding the most-rejections record. ;)

Dancre
08-12-2011, 12:43 AM
I agree, that's why I posted it. You can't give up just b/c some agents say it's terrible or tiring. You keep going, and going and going until someone takes it.


Writer's need this type of story to pop up once in a while. Thanks for posting it.

Dark River
08-12-2011, 04:56 AM
I wonder how those 60 agents who rejected the book, The Help, are feeling now? 60 agents rejected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, calling it dull, boring, uninteresting. That same 'dull, boring and uninteresting' book has now sat on the New York Times for 100 weeks, been made into a movie and might be up for an oscar. I wonder how many of those 60 agents are now eating ice cream and sobbing into their computers?

http://shine.yahoo.com/event/poweryourfuture/kathryn-stocketts-the-help-turned-down-60-times-before-becoming-a-best-seller-2523496/?posted=1

Ah . . . life can be so good. There's hope for every writer. 61 is just around the corner!! Never give up, never surrender!!

Thank you for this post. It's nice to know there's no magic number. And good on her for not giving up!

Carrie in PA
08-12-2011, 05:25 AM
I read that article today, too. I just finished the novel (which I thought was fantastic), so it was nice to be reminded that even hugely successful books like this one (and of course Harry Potter!) have a long list of rejections before they got picked up.

ChaosTitan
08-12-2011, 05:54 PM
Besides, I doubt all 60 agents called the book "dull, boring, uninteresting." I'll bet most of the rejections were blandly polite forms. In fact, the first rejection quote mentioned in the article, "Story did not sustain my interest," is echt-formspeak.

This.



Rejection, like shit, happens. And in this case, as well as Rowling's, I have no idea how many times over those 60 she revised the book and/or the query letter. Or how many were simply the wrong fit. Or not taking new writers.

You are right, there is always hope, but those are all variables to consider.

And this, too.

Taste is subjective, whether it's between readers or agents. For every person who reads and loves a book, someone else is going to hate it.

I have a copy of The Help on my shelf. It's not usually what I read, but a good friend recced it, so I'll give it a whirl one of these days.

Mharvey
08-12-2011, 06:01 PM
Great inspiring story!

stormie
08-12-2011, 06:14 PM
I like this quote from the author of The Help: "A year and a half later, I opened my 40th rejection: 'There is no market for this kind of tiring writing.' That one finally made me cry. “

And this: "In the end, I received 60 rejections forThe Help. But letter number 61 was the one that accepted me. After my five years of writing and three and a half years of rejection...."

The book is one of my favorites.

shaldna
08-12-2011, 06:46 PM
I wonder how those 60 agents who rejected the book, The Help, are feeling now?

A couple of years ago I read a blog by an agent on this - I think it was over at www.pubrants.blogspot.com (http://www.pubrants.blogspot.com) but I can't say for sure.

Mainly agents are pleased that any book does well, because it means more money in the industry.

What you have to remember is that agents and editors pass on books for all sorts of reasons. In the case of a good book it could be that they just didn't feel that they were the best person to handle that book, and that's fine.

Look at it this way, if that book had a different agent or a different editor then how would that have made a difference? Maybe a different agent wouldn't have gotten such a good deal, maybe a different publisher wouldn't have backed it so much, etc etc etc.

These things happen and in general, anyone who has worked in the industry for any length of time knows that things like that happen.


60 agents rejected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, calling it dull, boring, uninteresting.

And maybe to them and what they handle, it is. An agent has to really LOVE a book before they take it on. You can't stand behind a book you aren't passionate about, no matter how good it is.

shaldna
08-12-2011, 06:51 PM
Besides, I doubt all 60 agents called the book "dull, boring, uninteresting." I'll bet most of the rejections were blandly polite forms. In fact, the first rejection quote mentioned in the article, "Story did not sustain my interest," is echt-formspeak.




This.

Every agent I have dealt with has been polite and professional, even in rejections.

ChaosTitan
08-12-2011, 06:56 PM
This.

Every agent I have dealt with has been polite and professional, even in rejections.

Yeah but reinterpreting those form rejections into "dull, boring, uninteresting" makes for a much more entertaining article.

Button
08-12-2011, 07:09 PM
Her story wasn't finished by the time she wrote her first few dozen queries and sent them along. She admitted she had to rewrite a couple times and polish and work very hard at research.

So her book wasn't ready for publication when she first started sending it out. That's pretty much how it goes. It'll be published when it's ready.

Jamesaritchie
08-12-2011, 10:09 PM
Without knowing the agents she sent the novel to, and without knowing how many rejected the novel itself, or just rejected a poor query, it's all meaningless.

The world is filled with poor agents, and with lousy query letters that hide a novel's true potential.

No agent or editor likes saying no to a novel that becomes a bestseller somewhere else. The difference is that it costs the agent money, but it can cost an editor his job.

Dark River
08-12-2011, 10:27 PM
This.

Every agent I have dealt with has been polite and professional, even in rejections.

I'm glad you have never had a negative experience with an agent. I have. I have known agents who were cruel, unprofessional, unethical and one who was mad as a hatter.
On the other hand, I've had rejections from agents that were not form letters, that were insightful and let me down kindly.
And in my opinion, those who are trying to tear down this amazing message of hope are just plain jealous.
It doesn't matter what shape the ms was in when she sent it out. 61 is still 61 and I am encouraged to try harder, submit more, and never take no for an answer.

AlwaysJuly
08-12-2011, 10:43 PM
I need to read this today, thanks.

quicklime
08-12-2011, 11:04 PM
And in my opinion, those who are trying to tear down this amazing message of hope are just plain jealous.
It doesn't matter what shape the ms was in when she sent it out. 61 is still 61 and I am encouraged to try harder, submit more, and never take no for an answer.

I don't think anyone is trying to tear it down, or be jealous, only point out the feel-good story of the article was very, very partial.

61, 125, 2008--nobody said to quit trying, or that what happened did not, they (including myself) only pointed out that there were many, many other variables at play. To ignore those or refuse to consider them will probably only diminish your chances--shit, someone even went so far as to point out that apparently she blew a fair chunk of those queries prematurely, when her book was less polished and researched, and she went bakc to work and fixed it. I don't call that tearing it down, I call that being aware in order to maximize your odds of success. Maybe I mis-read, but I sure as hell didn't see anyone telling you that you should not try harder....

But hey, to each their own.

Shaba
08-23-2011, 05:09 PM
I know the mods will snip this away but I don't know exactly where to put this. I think it's a great inspirational story for everyone and teaches us to never give up. It's about the woman who wrote The Help, which is now the number 1 movie in America.

http://www.more.com/kathryn-stockett-help-best-seller

Perks
08-23-2011, 05:20 PM
Why would the mods take it away? We've talked about it at least twice here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=221690&highlight=Stockett) and here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=221847&highlight=Stockett), so it might get merged, but the topic's fine.

Shaba
08-23-2011, 05:24 PM
I meant move it elsewhere. Sorry for the mix-up

Perks
08-23-2011, 05:28 PM
Oh! Yeah, that's probably a 'AW Rountable' type discussion, but all's well.

I'll bet Ms. Stockett's story topped-off the resolve tanks of quite a few hopefuls out there.

Shaba
08-23-2011, 05:35 PM
It's a good story. You should never give up. There's a decent amount of writers out there who send to agents before their manuscript is finished, send to agents before it's polished, and send grammar/typo-filled queries to agents. If you believe in your story, you'll work to the bone so it can one day see the light. As for the Oscar talk, I wouldn't be surprised to see it get the nod. In fact, I'm expecting it will.

Libbie
08-23-2011, 05:38 PM
60 agents rejected The Help by Kathryn Stockett, calling it dull, boring, uninteresting.

As it happens, I agree with all 60 of them. I didn't care for the book at all. Just goes to show that you can't account for taste, and an agent needs to at least like a book, if not love it, in order to sell it well. All 60 of those agents are just fine with their choice, I am sure, because they would not have been the right agents to sell that book and make it into the success it became.

shaldna
08-23-2011, 06:14 PM
And in my opinion, those who are trying to tear down this amazing message of hope are just plain jealous.
.


Well you get five points for the 'you is all jus jellus!!!!!!11!!' sentiment, but seriously, no one here has tried to tear down any 'amazing message of hope' and if you think they have then perhaps you are reading something that the rest of us aren't.

What was pointed out, politely and calmly, is that taste is subjective and agents and editors have many reasons for passing on a book.

blacbird
08-23-2011, 09:47 PM
What struck me about her story, beyond the persistence angle, is that she seems to have simply sent the entire manuscript around, blindly, to agents. I didn't see the word "query" anywhere in it. So how many of those "rejections" were simply because the agent targeted didn't accept unsolicited manuscripts?

caw

Filigree
08-23-2011, 10:29 PM
That's what I suspect, blacbird. She probably didn't do much agent research, or she would have known NOT to send the whole mms around.
In her case, the book was reasonable, so she got lucky. The only real fodder for inspiration here is 'do your homework.'

Cassandra Blizzard
08-24-2011, 02:03 AM
No offense to the agents and editors, but they probably never even looked at it, just sent the standard form letter rejection. Most famous people had a long line of people telling them its stupid, can't or shouldn't be done. It's whether they chose to listen to them or not.

I am not saying you shouldn't listen and take what is useful from it, but its easy to let them stop you from succeeding. Keep going!

Cassandra Blizzard
08-24-2011, 02:05 AM
As it happens, I agree with all 60 of them. I didn't care for the book at all. Just goes to show that you can't account for taste, and an agent needs to at least like a book, if not love it, in order to sell it well. All 60 of those agents are just fine with their choice, I am sure, because they would not have been the right agents to sell that book and make it into the success it became.


Didn't care for it either by the way.

Shadow_Ferret
08-24-2011, 02:22 AM
And in my opinion, those who are trying to tear down this amazing message of hope are just plain jealous.


I have no interest in tearing down an amazing message of hope. It's wonderful that 61 was a charm. It does give many of us a silver lining to look for in the dark cloud of rejection.

I just dislike the anti-agent message that seems to be coming across as if they're the enemy and I want to make it clear that agents are not automatons who magically can prognosticate if something will be successful. They are individuals with individual tastes. And they have to love the book if they're going to do any good representing it. 60 agents didn't love this book. A few might even have hated it. That's how opinions work.

And personally, I'd have sided with those 60, too.

Alexandra Little
08-24-2011, 04:40 AM
I tried to read it, but didn't like it much.

Tromboli
08-24-2011, 05:38 AM
I was at a conference this past winter in which an agent commented about this (not this story in particular but the idea).

She said something along the lines of "I hate it when I reject a novel and it ends up a best seller sold by Donald Maass!" (another agent who was at the panel.) She said it jokingly mind you.
They then went on to say that there will always be novels that do well that no one expected. It's just how it goes.

I personally like stories like this because I think it makes Agents less prone to make not-so-nice comments about novels. It might end up a best seller! Because you never can tell, truthfully.

blacbird
08-24-2011, 07:46 AM
So if this interpretation is correct, the next question is Why the hell would anybody go through the soul-shredding query process?

caw

Chicago Expat
08-24-2011, 08:20 AM
So if this interpretation is correct, the next question is Why the hell would anybody go through the soul-shredding query process?

caw

Self-hate.

Namatu
08-24-2011, 06:08 PM
No offense to the agents and editors, but they probably never even looked at it, just sent the standard form letter rejection.Books are unlikely to ever get published that way. Many of those rejections may have been on the basis of the query letter alone, but as comments in this thread show, a lot of like/dislike is subjective and that has a bigger role to play in agent/editor decisions than read/not read.

blacbird
08-24-2011, 09:21 PM
Books are unlikely to ever get published that way. Many of those rejections may have been on the basis of the query letter alone

To reiterate what I said before, she doesn't seem to have sent query letters. The article basically says she just mailed out the full manuscript, over and over and over. It would be nice to have this point clarified, as it really does affect those rejection numbers and the reasons for them.

caw

blacbird
08-24-2011, 09:24 PM
Every agent I have dealt with has been polite and professional, even in rejections.

Evidently you haven't encountered the one who lost his allegedly positive response to my query/partial on "his assistant's desk" for eighteen months, after which he decided he decided he didn't want to see the manuscript.

caw

Marian Perera
08-24-2011, 09:31 PM
I wonder how many of those 60 agents are now eating ice cream and sobbing into their computers?

I wonder how many of those 60 agents are so busy negotiating foreign rights, movie deals, etc. for the bestsellers they did handle that they have no time to cry into their ice cream?

Rejecting one manuscript that later becomes a bestseller doesn't mean dismal failure in other aspects of your work.

2011's dreamer
08-24-2011, 10:56 PM
The article basically says she just mailed out the full manuscript, over and over and over.


lmao, we should all just start doin that.