CONFESSIONS OF A LAPSED
Oh, my goodness ... these are so old! They date back to 2001. But people tell me they're entertaining so I'll leave them up for now.
Here are six examples, each and every one absolutely true, taken from my years with the Ricia Mainhardt Agency and the Pacific NW Literary Associates. Let them be a stern warning to those who truly never want an agent! Number six is my favorite. All names and identifying titles have been omitted to protect the guilty. Punctuation and spelling left as is in all its horrible glory.
1. The Demanding Approach
"Dear Agent,As announced in my email from July 13, I send to you today the short email-version of my Book: The XXXXXXXX-Xxxxx. Pleas make a printout of the 9 pages and read it. This Book will easily sell 1 million copies worldwide! Please make a decision, if you want to have it. I want to close the Publishing contract as soon as possible. You can send me your offer by Fax or by Email."
(Oh yeah, that's going to make me just rush out and sign you up!)
2. The Tantrum
(The following is a classic. I used to try and help writers by taking the time to give them some feedback. For some reason because it was by e-mail, writers had no compunction in throwing a fit of temper and sending me this like this:)
"Dear agent:Thank you for reviewing my work. Fortunately your comments show that you know nothing about literary fiction and that you did not read my manuscript, so I am pleased with your rejection. I did read your boiler plate comments; unfortunately they reveal more about your lack of attention to my manuscript than about the manuscript itself!"
(Thanks, you're so sweet.)
3. The Arrogant Asshole
(Here's a cutie. This guy has the flashiest website, the best PR, and most intriguing query letter. Unfortunately, it seems the bigger the 'sell', the worse the writing. This was his response to our rejection.)
"You sound like you need to spend a few more years in play school and grow up, Lizzy -- you don't know what in hell you're talking about. How old are, 16, 19 20…"
(He queried again about a year later and when again rejected, he wrote this to my colleague:)
"What kind of asshole are you son, you must still be in short pants. Time to grow up…"
(He really is obsessed with age, isn't he…?)
4. The Badger
(This writer kept e-mailing us to ask the status of his manuscript. That's not necessarily a problem, except he began writing a week after we received his work and continued to follow up every couple of days! I politely asked him to be patient.)
"I'm not impatient. I'm a self educated dyslexic who waited 43 years to write. I didn't get where I am today for someone to be rude toward my efforts Damn you and your establishment!"
(If I had a dollar for every time I've been damned…)
5. The Racist
(On a more serious and rather sad note, even racism was claimed by a rejected writer.)
"I knew none of the literary agents I queried would be interested in my work, even though many of them specified that they accepted 'ethnic fiction'. Well, it does not matter -- I have an agent (have had this agent, from the Xxxxx Xxxx/Xxxxx Xxxxx since before Christmas), and she understands the needs, problems, and racism affecting Black American Writers today. Not only that, but my first novel, Xxxxxxxx xx Xxxx, was published last month. I believe Ms. Xxxxx-Xxxxx will get my novel, XXXX, into the hands of Editors who will read the work and realize what a bestseller they hold in their pale hands, and I know that my novel will make lots of money for this agency, as well as the publisher who is fortunate -- and wise-- enough to accept it. I have decided to remain true to my race and not change things to please the Head Honchos. I thank you for your response, and I am glad you aren't my agent. I would probably have to rewrite my entire novel and make it about some white chick if you were."
(I had my colleague and best friend, an African-American, answer that one. We hadn't asked her to change a thing.)
6. The Psycho
(If you're offended by foul language and distasteful subjects, scroll down past this one. This psycho's attitude displays how bad it can be out there.)
"Dear expert, my sincere and honest feelings for you are pity. To think that you are someone who dares to make judgement on the statements of your peers and betters. You sad pathetic little bitch. Oh dear, someone said the word 'fuck' to you. How do you expect to ever get in touch with any serious thinker alive today when you can not accept the word 'fuck'. I bet you're a little uptight frigid whore whose never seen a good size dick in her life. You are a little parasite who feeds off the stock of the creative types of this world. I wish your mother had had an abortion and saved the world the waste of space that your pathetic ugly little body occupies. Get out of my sight you fucking little slag. I bet you're ugly aren't you."
(Nice guy! His query letter was this: "I'm fucking bored--let's sell my work." Just the kind of person I've waited my whole life to work with.) ;-)