Saturday, March 6, 2010

Joys of Hell, III

My novel is a worm (and who doesn't like worms?) dangling on a hook (i.e., the "query") in a big lake (i.e., the "publishing industry') of big fish (i.e., agents and editors), and every once in awhile the tip of my pole quivers (i.e., I get a reply) and I seize the rod (with HOPE!) and yank out another pair of fish lips (reel in an empty hook, dripping with cruel REJECTION).

I feel like the proverbial one-arm fisherman who, when asked how big the fish was that got away, holds up his one arm and says, "This big, at least!" Okay, enough with the allegory!

So, here are my two most recent rejections: Michael, at Dystel & Goderich Lit. Agency, who I queried 2/26/10, responded very politely on 3/4/10: “Thanks so much for letting me take a look at your materials and please forgive me for responding with a form letter. The volume of submissions I receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally. Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit my list at this time. I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work and I thank you, once again, for letting me consider your materials.”

Wow! That's a well-phrased, courteous and professional "form" way of saying "fuck off and drop dead." No, actually I'm not that bitter. Honest. I understand completely: I do not "suit" his "list." I mean, if back in the day when I was dating, had I asked a girl for a date, she could have merely said the volume of submissions she had to deal with was overwhelming, and that I didn't suit her list, and then she would have thanked me for letting her consider my materials. I simply would have said, "No prob!" and then drowned my sorrows with another beer, wondering how in the hell she could have checked out my "materials."

Over the years between then and now, nothing much has changed, I guess, in how I deal with rejection, except perhaps wine is now my drowning drug of choice.

Here's the second one: Scott, at Trident Media Group, LLC, in his 3/4 response to my 3/4 query [pretty quick reply, huh?] says, "I respect the time and effort that you have put into your project, which is why I regret to tell you that it just does not feel right for my list. I read every query that is sent to me via e-mail and because the volume of these queries is so huge I am forced to be extremely selective about what I ask to see.” I like his employment of alliteration, with "respect" and "regret."

I'd throw "rejection" into the mix, too. But, okay, I can see a two-fold "theme" emerging: (1) all these people are busy with "volume" and (2), they have a "list." There's not much I can do about "volume," except perhaps begin a terror campaign directed at novelists across the country. Hmmm, not a bad idea, but how can I manage to get them all aboard the same airplane and airborne at 30,000 feet?

Yeah, I know, that's not funny.

But what about this "list" thing? Do I have any control over it? I do my research, or what I call "research." It consists of reading an agent's bio, his/her (more her's than his's--by far, it seems) description of current projects and preferences, the house's list of published works, etc. If I see the words "literary fiction" anywhere, [Are you ready for another bad dose of allegory?] I'll deem him/her an appropriate "big fish" in that "big lake" and bait my hook and cast and hope for a bite.

Ahhh, to one day say, "Baby, they're bitin' like bulldogs!"

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