Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Rejection Project - The Official List

1. B.L. at Waxman Agency
"Lars is spot on about how good this proposal is. You have taken an incredibly difficult subject and handled it with a deft touch that demonstrates great reserves of talent throughout. In the end, though, I think it would just be too tough to find an editor who thought they could take a book about a suicide and find an audience for it. Given the quality of the proposal, I don't think it will take you long to find an agent for this. Thanks so much for the opportunity to consider it and best of luck."

Given the quality of the proposal, I don't think it will take you long to find an agent for this. That was in June. This was my first rejection. 

2. A.H. at David Black Agency
"I was incredibly moved by the subject matter you’ve taken on here—addiction, suicide, the many depths of grief, the possibility for forgiveness. The attention you’ve paid to a number of small details... made for an emotionally resonating read. However, in spite of the story’s strengths and profound impact, I did have some immediate concerns, particularly with identifying a broad audience for the book as well as the potential marketability to publishers of a story grounded in such a devastating, traumatic event as suicide. 
I appreciated the honesty...as well as the very humanizing insight you provided into the intricacies of grief and the many forms it takes. I’m afraid I have trouble seeing readers being able to move past the horror of this story to reach a real place of inspiration by the end. The material is incredibly visceral and it hits hard, which speaks to the strength of your writing. But it’s also a tough sell to the publishing houses with editors whom, these days, are increasingly hesitant to take on works for which they can’t immediately pinpoint the market and audience. And while we’ve seen books like The Year of Magical Thinking and A Widow’s Story, which both dealt with the aftermath of the death of a loved one, turn into best-sellers, I do think suicide is quite a different story altogether –  unfortunately much more taboo in our culture and as such, I just can’t see readers approaching and gravitating to this story. 
It is especially hard to pass on memoirs that are as emotionally honest and raw as this, but in such an increasingly difficult market, we are finding that we’re unable to take on as many titles as we have in the past. And while The Geography of You and Me addresses issues that are so central to the human condition, I’m afraid I do not see the market where we could successfully place it and as such, we’ll be unable to take it on."

3. D.V. at Vigliano Associates

"While your personal journey is at once harrowing and inspiring, I simply do not have the availability to take on any new clients at this time."

4. B.D. at DeFiore and Company
Requested proposal August 25. No further response.

5. E.C. at Trident Media Group
"Thank you for your query. I'm afraid your project is not right for my list, but I do wish you the best of luck."

6. T.W. at ICM Talent
"Thank you for your query, but I don't think I'd be the best match in this instance. I wish you luck finding the right home for your work."

7. Denise Shannon Agency
"Thank you for your recent query to the Denise Shannon Literary Agency.  Unfortunately, we do not feel your project is right for us, but we wish you the best of luck elsewhere."

8. C.M. at Doe Coover Agency
"Your writing voice is a lively one and it makes your scenes come alive.  But as a whole, I think the storyline is made up of scenes and not a cohesive narrative line.  This is a very subjective reaction and other readers may have a different opinion."

9. C at Aaron Priest
No response to query letter.

10. S.B., friend of a friend who is at HarperCollins 
"I thought it was well-written and extremely powerful. My concern is that it is small and she doesn’t really have a platform. That should not matter, but in the fiercely competitive world of publishing these days it does. I have passed it along to a really smart young editor, as well as the publisher and deputy publisher, so we will see what their thoughts are. Thanks for thinking of me and sending it my way."

Note: HarperCollins just paid a reported $4 million for a memoir by Amanda Knox. It's really too bad I haven't spent four years in an Italian prison and been featured on Today a bazillion times. 

11. E. at Emma Sweeney Agency
"Thank you so much for writing me about your memoir and for sending these ten pages. It's a powerful and heartrending story. I'd love to read the full proposal. If the material is not presently being read by another agent could we have an exclusive in exchange for a quick answer (within a week)."

That was November 4. No further response, quick or otherwise. 

12. A.S. at Harvey Klinger
"There's some good, smooth prose in these pages -   in fact, the quality of writing is far superior to most of the material that crosses my desk.  You make for a highly sympathetic protagonist and the memoir is at times heartbreaking and inspiring.  It's with real regret, then, that I must admit that I've got reservations about my ability to place the project.  I recently went out with a manuscript which, although different, does bear some marked similarities.  Unfortunately, I was unable to find it a home. What with my recent experience, I suspect I wouldn't be the best advocate for your project.  In spite of the book's strengths, I'd better bow out.  Amy, thanks so much for contacting me, and for giving me this opportunity. It is much appreciated, and I'm sorry to be passing. I hope another agent will have a better idea on how to see it successfully to market! Thanks again, and all the very best of luck on your road to publication." 

13. R.G., Sterling Lord Literistic Inc.
(through a third party)  "He was impressed with the story and construction but doesn't think he could sell it. But he didn't rule it out and said he might pass it to another one of their people that deal with boutique publishers that tend to take on controversial and sensitive subject matter."

14. Wales Lit
"Thank you for sending us your query. We are unable to ask to see your work as we can only review and take on a few new projects each year. We wish you all the best and thank you for thinking of us."

15. C.S. at Selectric Artists
No response to query letter. 

Et tu, George?
Just a few thoughts: 

  • I wish literary agents would not use totally made-up words in the names of their literary agencies.
  • This one hurt: "I have trouble seeing readers being able to move past the horror of this story to reach a real place of inspiration by the end." Readers can't move past the horror? How the hell do I even get out of bed every day. It's a mystery.  
  • Taboo. Controversial. Sensitive. I honestly had no idea any subject was still considered taboo. 
  • Platform is just an agent word for "How famous are you? How many people know you exist and would run out and buy your book?" I'm not famous at all. Twelve people read my blog. Twenty-five people will run out and buy my "small" book. What? You don't want 15 percent of that action?! You don't want a piece of this?
If you know of an agent who you think might like to tell me "This is great, but...", please feel free to pass along his or her contact information. 

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  1. Don't worry, Don Quixote was rejected by 60 literary agents before being published. But seriously, there is a common theme there. They all seem to think that you can write your ass off. If they really knew what would appeal to a broad audience, wouldn't they be best selling authors themselves? Keep on keeping on.

    1. Thanks. Sometimes I think it's so frustrating exactly because of the message that the writing is good! I hate learning this lesson that publishing is not really about the writing. (sigh) I guess I already knew that once I read about Snookie's multi-book deal. This world ain't right, man!

  2. What's your title? The reason Amanda Knox got the book deal is because her book has so many title options.

    1. How My School Year Killed In Italy This Summer.
    2. Living Alone In Italy. How I Got A Three Bedroom All To Myself and Other Budget Saving Options for Traveling in Italy.
    3. Murder on the Italian Riveria. (A Mystery starring Hercule Poirot)
    4. Crime and Prison in Italy. A Sociology Expose on the Italian Court and Penal System.(Well the last part is just from what I've heard about it).
    5. What Roommates?

    Amy, I hope you do get your book deal. And you know I'm kidding above. You deserve it and it will happen. Keep your head up. Keep the faith. Punch a Kardasian. Any Kardasian. Keep writing. Keep living. Love you cousin.

    1. Thanks. I think OJ Simpson should write another book, this time about the Amanda Knox case: "If I Did It...In Italy."

      Thanks for the support. I need it!

  3. You could probably spend four years in an Italian prison for the cost of a plane ticket. However, if you want to be on TV, you'll have to be creative about it :-)

    1. Perhaps I could get on the Today Show if I film myself shooting up Kate's laptop to teach her a lesson about respect. I'll have to take it one step further than that dumb dad who's already used that discipline method. I will also shave the heads of her Barbie dolls. Those bimbos better watch out.

      That's just good parenting.

    2. I am represented by one of the agents on the above list (I prefer not to say which one). My first novel received responses that were nearly identical to yours. Don't give up the good fight.


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