Some say that offal smells sweet. I say it just smells awful–as does rejection. I should know, after collecting more rejection letters this week from literary agents.
Some of the more heinous and famous rejection letters include this one for Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.” Or the San Francisco Examiner said to Rudyard Kipling, “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” Most writers just bear up under these notices, though in the 1986 film Betty Blue, Betty stabs an agent with a fork after he rejects her boyfriend’s manuscript.
My rejections this week weren’t so dramatic. Mostly, I get things like this: “We’ve read your material and I’m sorry to say that we don’t think it is right for the specific talents of the people working at our company at this time.” It just sounds like we shouldn’t go on a date. I even recently thanked an agent for sending this message: “Ha! I just returned from Venice, so your timing is good. However, the publishers for this are very specific. I don’t do travel books, so I’m probably not the right agent for this.” At least she laughed, in a pleasant sort of way instead of a you suck sort of way.
Usually, I’d be pleased to not just receive a form letter. But this week I got a more personal note that read, “Truth be told, I’m afraid these pages just didn’t draw me in as much as I had hoped.” Ones like this, that say my work just isn’t good enough, well, they hurt. Especially since I know they’re not true. I’ve read nearly every guidebook on Venice, from the 1907 Venice on Foot to 2010’s Secret Venice. Seductive Venice IS good–and better than many–I just need to find the right agent or publisher to support it.
Bob the cartographer fell from the sky into this book. I’m waiting for it to start raining publishers, and I just bought a new umbrella.
(Thanks goes to http://susiesmith13.tripod.com/id12.html for the rejection quotes, where you can find even more.)