Tuesday, 13 December 2011

"No, I am sorry but your son may not read

the rest of my book."
Yesterday I had another rejection from an agent. They are a common event in a writer's life, especially for a new writer trying to break in to the world of fiction for children. They are so common that they are barely worth commenting on. It seems the world is full of frustrated writers papering the walls with their rejection slips. I do not comment on mine - or did not until now. I will comment on this one.
This was a standard, impersonal rejection "letter". Yes, better than not getting a reply at all. I do acknowledge that. But, I wonder would I even have got that?
Underneath there was a note, "My 10yr old son would like to read the rest of the story. Please can you send as e-mail attachment."
To say that I was taken aback does not really describe how I felt. As an action it could scarcely be less professional. Well, I suppose she did say please but.... Here was someone who had just rejected my work asking for a free copy so her son could finish reading the story?
Now, my manuscript has travelled. I know it may have to travel further. It is robust. It can manage the journey. It is currently with another two agents and a publisher. The publisher offered to look at it but I rather doubt she will find the time. I do not intend to demand an answer when it was an offer to help. The other agents have not yet responded. If they turn it down I will have to spend a considerable sum of money sending the first three chapters by mail to other agents who do not read things as e-mail attachments. I accept all that. It is the way these things work. If I believe in what I have written I will do these things.
I will keep trying because the feedback I have had suggests it is not an entirely hopeless case. I can even look at this rejection and say to myself, "Well her son likes it even if she doesn't!"
What I do know is that the person who wrote this e-mail could have asked for the full manuscript and then rejected it. That way her son could have read the entire story. I feel sorry for her son. Should I do it for him?


Redleg said...

Don't forget, Cat: Harry Potter got published because the publisher's daughter wanted to read it.

Melinda Szymanik said...

This has put you in an awkward spot you should never have been put in. You do not want to disappoint a ten year old boy but you should not have to. The agent's behaviour is inappropriate. I would want to discuss it over the phone with the agent.

Anonymous said...

No, do not do it. We all know the Harry Potter story but this has already been rejected. Even if she accepted it after he read it you would always wonder whether she was going to do the best for you. As for the child, yes hard to disappoint the child but, it is his mother who has disappointed him, not you. Like his mother he has to learn that this is not the way things are done. Bob C-S

jeanfromcornwall said...

I'm struck speechless, almost. What she asked for is wrong in so many ways. I feel sorry for the boy. What has he learned about proper behaviour?

JO said...

Yes - but send it with a careful email, pointing out her contradictions in putting you in this position, but you don't want to disappoint her son since your priority is always children etc. You might just shame her into reading the whole thing herself.

widdershins said...

That is outrageous!



Did I mention unprofessional?

... Tell her that when you find a publisher you will certainly send her son an autographed copy.

What a bloody nerve!

Don't you dare!

I will now indulge in indignant spluttering, not only on your behalf, but for all the authors who've had the misfortune to query this person. And on behalf of her son!


frances thomas said...

unprofessional and strangely insulting to you. I'd say no

Allison said...

I like Widdershins suggestion -- that you'll send an autographed copy when it's published.

Above and beyond the unprofessional, manipulative, etc behavior, I find it very contradictory that the agent has no interest in representing a childrens book that the resident child obviously wants to read.

Does she only represent childrens books aimed at adults? (Which is NOT to say that I thought the book was childish because it was not.)

I am so disappointed on your behalf I could spit.

Katherine Langrish said...

Not at all professional, Cat. Would you want a relationship with this person? If she's setting you a test, I don't think much of it. If it's not a test, it's incredibly rude and naive. Up to you, but perhaps you could ask her to get her son to write you a brief note himself, explaining what he liked about the book and why he wants to read more of it... if he does, you might feel more inclined to oblige - and it might make her think.

catdownunder said...

Thankyou everyone for your support. It does make me feel better!
I have sent a very polite message to her saying that I think it would be inappropriate when she is not representing to me. I have added a note for her to pass on to her son. In that I have told him I am sorry I cannot let him read the rest of it until it becomes a proper book but I do think it is very nice that he wants to read it.
Now I just have to hope she does not hold the refusal against me!