Authors Behaving Badly?
So, informal poll time — is this a spoof/satire, or a legitimate author blog?
She mentions having a novel coming out, but I can’t find any info on it, which suggests spoof to me. I’m not sure, though. Most authors are fairly reasonable about rejections, but Rejection Queen wouldn’t be the first to flip out and shoot her career in the foot. With a bazooka. Just see this post from agent Colleen Lindsay:
That second one is an interesting case, as the idiocy comes from someone who has actually published with major houses. But if you look at his published work, you notice that each book was with a different publisher. Makes you wonder … did he storm off, or did the publisher exercise their “No a**hole” clause on subsequent books?
While some authors whine and moan, others actually do the work without expecting things to be handed to them on a golden platter. See Rae Carson and Jenn Reese, both of whom recently landed awesome book deals. Huge congratulations to them both!
But you know what? Ask anyone who has accomplished what Rae and Jenn have, and they’ll probably tell you they got rejected plenty of times before reaching that point. It’s normal. Get over it.
You know what most successful authors don’t do?
April 23, 2010 @ 10:30 am
Well, y’know, agents and publishers are magical gatekeepers, not just ordinary folks trying to make a living. So when they don’t give writers their magic candy, of course they should get nasty responses!
Incidentally, I’m lying.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 10:43 am
Hmph. I’ve sold seven books to DAW, and they still won’t give me the magic candy.
April 23, 2010 @ 10:44 am
Pfft. They have no appreciation!
April 23, 2010 @ 11:15 am
I actually give Rejection Queen a pass and yes, I think it’s a real blog. She’s frustrated, trying to figure out what will work, and venting. Yes, if agents see it or she is sending this sort of thing to them directly, she’s shooting herself in the foot, but on the other hand, she’s at least trying to own her rejections and deal with them. She’s just on a lower rung of Jay Lake’s aspiring author mental state scale.
The thief guy is representative of the sort of abuse editors and agents usually receive. The notion that publishing people are crooks is widespread — due to actual conartists — and so while annoying is pretty much par for the course. And you’d kind of expect a former thief not to really trust someone who says they won’t steal from him. No doubt he’s hoping to sell the book to Hollywood too, which is another house of cards and probably why he’s obsessed about copyright.
But Patrick Roscoe’s behavior is just sad. He’s a mid-list Canadian author looking for an agent. He got pissed that an agent sent him a form rejection letter, and actually, he has a bit of a legitimate gripe there — if he let her know his publishing credits in the query letter, which it isn’t clear he did. But any mid-list author who claims publishing folk are losing out by not chasing him is not going to be taken very seriously in the industry. What isn’t clear to a lot of people trying to get published is that agents want authors they can work with, not just authors who can get a book sale.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 11:22 am
Yep. It was strange when I signed with JABberwocky. I had spent all of this time and energy hoping to find someone to represent my book. They made it very clear it was less about the book and more about the career. The book had to be good too, but most of the time, selling an author’s first book isn’t much of a moneymaker for the agent. It’s the long-term relationship that makes it profitable.
April 23, 2010 @ 11:43 am
It’s the bi-polar bear, it is. [sage nod]
If I were a CIA agent, I’d reject all of these writers too. But for different reasons. None of them can spell worth a gnat’s . If you’re going to bemoan some stranger’s cruel dismissal of your masterpiece, at least have the common decency to do so with intelligent, amusing rhetoric. With proper spelling, grammar, and for the love of Readers: humilitization!
I recall reading a blog post [link: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/004641.html%5D recently by Teresa Nielsen Hayden from back in ancient times–2004, actually–that talks about taking rejections personally. People like Mr. Roscoe and Her Heinous, The Reject’er Queen do, however, fill me full of joy and red ink. Now, even if they are better writers than I, they have more than likely removed themselves from the writing “gene pool”.
I do feel bad for the poor agents having to deal with several thousand slush e-mails per day, of which I’m sure a very limited percentage are presented in the structured language of their choice. I also feel bad for you, having read my diatribe of useless prattle.
I now release your attention back to your regularly scheduled blog.
April 23, 2010 @ 12:07 pm
Well, I was going to try and comment but apparently something in my diatribe triggered the “we’re not going to take it” flag.
But I agree: Roscoe and Rejection Queen bad. Silence golden. 🙂
April 23, 2010 @ 12:11 pm
I have no idea if the first one is legit or not but it would almost have to be, otherwise the person is collecting rejection letters from other people, posting them, and insulting the agents for no particular reason?
Probably she thinks it’s funny, or doesn’t think other agents interested in her work will actually look her up on the ‘net before contacting her. I’m guessing her first novel will be self-published, though she doesn’t actually say it, so it’s not as though agents are looking to represent a book that’s already guaranteed to sell.
The worst line in the blog is where she says “I always wait for two agents to say the same thing for me to change anything.”
That’s just a poor attitude. You may disagree with readers but they’re NEVER wrong when they tell you how they feel about something. If someone tells you that they got bored at a certain page, even if that page contains what you feel is the most exciting fight scene you’ve ever written, you owe it to yourself to give it a look over. You don’t HAVE to change anything, but understanding what it is about a page, paragraph, sentence, or word that had an effect other than the one you intended, even if it’s only different for one person, is one of the greatest tools in a writer’s kit.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 12:12 pm
Original comment has been approved. Sorry about that. The spam filter is about 99% accurate, but it’s not perfect.
April 23, 2010 @ 12:15 pm
I expected it was my use of greater-than and less-than signs. Which, of course, are also HTML tag references. And now I look like a wonky knob for not finishing my sentence about gnats. 🙂
April 23, 2010 @ 12:44 pm
Yeah, I buy that it’s real. Maybe not professional, but a lot of people missed that class in High School (probably because High Schools don’t have a class on acting professionally, though maybe they should). What really got me was the generally negative tone of the whole blog – it’s just not something that’s going to win readers. On my own blog, for instance, I try to maintain both a professional tone while talking about things that are exciting or interesting to me. Sometimes crap happens in your life, and maybe you want to blog about that, but I don’t think readers generally stick around for it week after week…
April 23, 2010 @ 12:51 pm
I’m going with real writer. Hmm, I wonder if they’ll figure out people in this business talk with each other?
My guess, first book is self-published. Hell, they whined about getting asked for a full manuscript? WTF?
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 1:06 pm
On LJ, the consensus is that she probably “sold” it to Publish America.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 1:08 pm
My guess is that the only audience she’s going to build over there is other angry, bitter, entitled writers. It’s definitely not the kind of conversations I like to surround myself with online.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 1:11 pm
I don’t know … I actually kind of agree with her on that line. Not completely, but I can see where that one’s coming from. If one agent or reader criticizes something about my writing, I’ll probably take a look and decide for myself if it’s something I want to change. If a majority of people give the same feedback, then there’s a problem. If it’s only one person, it might be a matter of taste.
No book is going to work for everyone. I’ve got people who throw my books across the room after one chapter, and others hail my stuff as the best books they’ve read in years. There’s a point at which you have to accept that some people simply won’t like your stuff, and that’s not necessarily a fault in your writing.
I understand what you’re saying that readers are never wrong, and I agree. But just because they’re never wrong, that doesn’t mean they’re right. If that makes any sense at all…
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 1:14 pm
“I’m sure a very limited percentage are presented in the structured language of their choice.”
Fortunately, I suspect that the over-the-top nastiness and rants like Rejection Queen’s are also very, very limited. The vast majority of writers I’ve encountered have a clue. (Not to mention having a grasp of the whole “act like a grown-up” idea.) But it only takes a few to make a lot of noise.
April 23, 2010 @ 1:28 pm
You made my case for me. You’ll take a look if someone mentions something and decide whether or not you agree or want to leave things as is, and that’s a good thing. The agent was being honest with her about what he read. In the minutes it took to write that blog post, she could have read through bits quickly to see if she saw what the agent saw. He was also thoughtful enough to tell her exactly what he disliked about it, it could very well be that some of the form rejections she’s received are due to the same issues as seen by other people. Instead of looking to see if he might be right, she counters with insults. That’s a poor attitude, but it goes along with the rest of the blog.
I also don’t buy her line of 3 chapters being insufficient to develop character. I write a lot of short stories, you can make someone feel how you want them to feel about a character in a very short amount of time. But I haven’t finished a novel yet, so what do I know?
April 23, 2010 @ 1:31 pm
Yeah, and frankly I don’t know that there are enough of those who will be interested in her book to form the basis of a burgeoning career…
April 23, 2010 @ 1:34 pm
I think you both make good points on the issue. At the end of the day, the author’s responsible for the book, and it up to him/her to figure out whether the critique s/he’s received is valid or not – or whether the critiquer is really part of his/her target audience.
Regardless, going off on the critiquer is bad form.
Jim C. Hines
April 23, 2010 @ 1:57 pm
You can start to develop character in one sentence. If you can’t do it in three chapters, there’s a problem.
April 23, 2010 @ 3:27 pm
Somewhere on her blog she notes that she gets rave reviews from Authonomy (though IIRC she misspelled it) so how could these other people reject her work?
One thing I don’t see much generally is calling out Authonomy and similar writers sites on being the false hope mutual appreciation societies that they are. Every time I’m tempted to check out something there, all I ever see is dreck dreck dreck with multiple comments (sometimes hundreds) praising how great that dreck really is.
Also, as a book blogger type I’ve started to get more review pitches from “authors” who don’t take my polite declines too well. Almost to a point where I’m going to add something to my review pitch page warning “authors” that I’m going to make fun of them publicly if they can’t take a polite no well.
April 23, 2010 @ 5:09 pm
Hey, thanks for the link to my blog, Jim. I wonder if the person who sent me that reply to their rejection and Ms. Rejection Queen are one in the same. I’ve learned over the years that it’s folly to underestimate the puerile drivel that emanate from the blowholes of those whose egos outshine their talents.
April 24, 2010 @ 2:39 pm
Well, in fiction, the book is more important than the author. If you don’t have what they think is special first, then they aren’t interested, because it’s your writing, characters and/or story that makes the long career possible, not how cute and cuddly you are. But for a literary agent who has to work extensively with you and advise you and would prefer not to be sued by you, if the book is interesting, then there is the question of whether the person is someone you can work with, because if the author is angry with you going into the gate, it’s not going to be possible for the agent and author to work as a team. So if you get past the really big gate of what have you got, what are you like does become an issue in a final decision to represent or keep representing you.
The big problem is that aspiring authors don’t get that things can change. That the agent or publisher who didn’t love one project you had and sent you a form rejection letter because they are swamped with submissions might potentially be the person you end up working with on another project down the road. And when it comes to SFFH fiction, there aren’t that many agents who do it and there aren’t that many publishers who publish it on any regular basis. And they do all talk to each other, not that they go out of their way to bash people who get upset at them. (Too many to bother counting.) And even if you’re not doing SFFH, it’s a small industry. And in any industry, small or not, making enemies deliberately is a poor business strategy.
Jim C. Hines
April 26, 2010 @ 9:09 am
I’m not familiar with the Authonomy site, but I’ve run into that dynamic before. The writing workshop where everything is wonderful, all praise all the time. Good for the ego, but no story is perfect, and if I’m not getting criticism, it’s not really helping. Either you’re not telling me about the problems, which doesn’t help me, or you’re not a skilled enough critiquer to see the problems, which doesn’t help me. Instead, you get a mutual admiration society going, like you said.
There’s nothing wrong with the occasional ego stroke, but … well, put it this way. It’s nice that your mom likes your book. That has absolutely no relevance to whether or not a professional editor will like it.
Jim C. Hines
April 26, 2010 @ 9:12 am
They don’t strike me as being the same person, but I couldn’t say for certain.
One of the things that pisses me off about Publish America and their ilk is that it’s exactly this sort of attitude that they feed on. They encourage it, and they push the writer to go out and blog and encourage others, and you end up with more responses like the one you posted…