There cannot be many lines of work where you spend thousands of hours researching and producing a fine product, paying for it to be checked and polished, but not get paid for it for years — if ever. Not only that, you have to present your crafted work to people who service it (agents and publishers) who maybe are not writers, but who are compelled to reject the vast majority of writers’ work presented to them. I’m not making accusations, just atempting to state the situation. Writers, agents, pubishers, printers, distributers and booksellers all have a valuable part to play in this process. But it seems the writer gets the rough end of the deal – they’re the ones with walls papered with reject slips. These days e-walls with reject e-mails, mostly. Today I had the fastest reject I’ve ever had. I’d found an US agent whose website said they accepted e-mail subs and were actively looking for SF. I submitted this morning, not with any great expectations – just as well. Within the hour I had this reply:
“Thanks for your interest in our agency. As you may know, I run a very small business and unfortunately there are periods when the time that I have to consider new material is very limited. Unfortunately you’ve caught me during one of those periods. Since I can not offer to consider your work in a timely manner I must pass with the hope that you will find an agent who can offer the attention that this deserves.”
Politely written – but probably a standard response, maybe an auto-response. I know agents can get very busy. But come on. This is saying I am too busy to read your pitch letter and definitely too busy to read a page of your novel. I should be grateful I had a response at all. I have a database of my submissions and responses, and there are several with no response at all for 2 years.
On a brighter note I had friendly e-chats today with successful author Sarah Prineas, who writes children’s fantasy for HarperCollins, Jaine Fenn, who writes SF/F in London, and Gary Hicks who writes SF in Co. Galway. Oh, and a few chats with Neil Marr in France – senior editor at BeWrite, Daniel Abelman in Israel who writes clever stuff soon to be published at BeWrite, Beverley Eley in Australia who writes and looks after her horses on 20 acres and via a forum, Gladys Hobson of Ulverston and John Silkstone also of the UK. Good grief, no wonder I hardly wrote much today. Oh and I haven’t mentioned Ed at Cafe Doom, and…