Every once in a while someone gets really mad at us when we reject him/her and delivers a screed against the publishing world in general and agents’ ignorance, stupidity and lack of humanity in particular. Usually, these rants come via e-mail or US post; sometimes, via an overlong voice mail message. They invariably end with “When I’m selling more books than James Patterson, you’ll be sorry!”
Recently, Jim McCarthy received a response to one of his rejections in Latin. The gist of it was “Pearls before swine.” We guessed that the swine in question was the agent who threw this pearl away “richer than all his tribe.”
When those of us who work on this side of the business start out, we’re genuinely hurt and angered by these attacks (after all, these people placed their work before us and asked us for our opinion). As we become more experienced, however, we tend to (sometimes a bit callously) be more amused by the name calling and invective than outraged.
But, you know what? We are not above some name calling ourselves when something we think is exceptional, that we’ve helped the author develop and have lovingly shepherded to the point where we think it’s ready to be unleashed on the world, is unceremoniously rejected by an editor. Perhaps it’s because we’ve all been there and all felt the impulse to take our marbles elsewhere, but not before spewing some venom in the general direction of the power brokers, that I found this Swiftian piece by Anis Shivani so entertaining. Really, though, how practical is it to break all the rules?
Have you ever sent an irate “you done me wrong” e-mail or letter?