Tuesday, 24 February 2009


Another rejection today from an agent. Well, I assume it is a rejection. My submission came back exactly as I sent it with the addition of an illegible scrawl (some of it crossed out) across part of my covering letter. Hence the sigh. For all I know it could be an offer to represent me.

Now, this makes me cross. And it is not the first time I’ve had this in a long career of writing. It makes me cross because, as a writer, I am forever urged to be professional, to take great care over my submissions to agents and editors, to be clear and concise. That, I am forever being told, is the way to impress and the way to get on.


But tell me.

Why the hell should I play that game when some of the people I am contacting apparently don’t give a rat’s arse about their own presentation? What message does it send to authors and publishers?

Well, all that scrawl told me is that the agent who wrote it has treated me with contempt. If they did not like my work, fine. I am well aware of how subjective this game is, especially when it comes to fiction. But it wouldn’t cost more than a few pence per copy to type and run off an A5 letter. That and a signature would at least let me know the work had been rejected.

If that piece of scrawl is an acceptance… Well, sorry, but there is no way I would wish to be represented by someone who cannot make the effort to ensure their message is legible, who cannot be arsed to be clear, who cannot even make the same effort I did in approaching them.

I might be a ‘nobody’ (after all, I’ve only had ten books published – one of the novels with glowing praise from two of the world’s best sellers in the genre); they might be a ‘busy and important’ agent (possibly); but that is no excuse for not observing the common decencies of human communication.

This is pretty much the written equivalent of a conversation I once had with an agent. I phoned them to see if they were accepting submissions. The person I spoke to questioned me about my writing background and then asked me to tell them something about the book I intended to submit. Remember that. They asked me to tell them. So I did. Well. I started to tell them. I wasn’t long-winded. I didn’t have time. I’d been going for less than a minute (and wouldn’t gave gone on for much more), when they sighed very loudly and hung up on me.

Perhaps I have a lousy telephone manner. Perhaps I use the wrong kind of paper to print my submissions (and I know for sure my letter and synopsis could be better – those are things that can always be improved and I work on them all the time). But there are times I get heartily sick of the whole business, because whilst there are a lot of good people in publishing (most of them authors), it is riddled with arseholes – hence all the shit it produces.


ChrisH said...

Very sorry to hear about the rejections, but no, you don't want to be represented by Rudy Ruddison. Better luck next time.

BT said...

Jesus, how rude can some people get. I agree, there is NO excuse for not observing common curtesy. Better luck with the next try.