SHAUN MANNING

My Latest Rejection: A Response and Appreciation

blogShaun ManningComment

I get frustrated. I do.

I'm always pitching, and most of those pitches are rejected. I've got a ton of stories I'm really excited about, things I think would be awesome comics, novels, short plays, and so on. It bums me out.

But man, it would never even occur to me to publicly lash out out the people that said no. There's self-preservation, for one. And then there's basic human decency.

Look, there's always a reason behind rejection. It may be a story is a poor fit for an agent or publisher, it may be they're already working with something similar. It could be that it just doesn't fit with their schedule. 

It might just not be very good.

They might just not like you.

You might never know the reason for sure. If you know it, you might not agree. That's fine. Folks have different tastes.

Personal attacks are never ok. What does an agent's appearance or age matter in a prospective professional relationship? Or why mention that dance means something different to her? And what could you possibly hope to gain by complaining about standard industry and conference practices (which are very, very reasonable if you take even a second to consider the world through the agent's point of view) when trying make a good impression?

It comes down to power, of course. The writer of the original post has been made to feel weak, so he's going to reclaim his strength. He's older and wiser (and better dressed?) than these puny agents, he's not only gonna deliver the next Booker Prize-winning opus but by damn he's gonna restore some common sense to the whole publishing system. 

He's above it, he wants you to know. He's a published author, he knows how the game is played. Or should be played, and it's not the way these Millennials are doing it.

Which is rubbish, of course.

Nobody owes you a publishing deal. You do not have a right to an agent's representation, or any more of her time than she feels your pitch has earned you. 

Yeah, I get bummed out when things don't go my way, and that happens a lot. A LOT. Sometimes I wonder if I could have pitched it a different way, sometimes I wonder if my timing was off, or if I came off as annoying. Sometimes, yeah, I think the decision makes no goddamn sense. 

But I've been fortunate enough to work with some stellar editors, and to be on very good terms with others whom I haven't yet had the pleasure of working with. I have an agent for certain projects, and have been very happy both with our initial introductions and ongoing communications, as well as, of course, the work they're doing for me. I hope I give these good people reason to enjoy working with me, beyond my masterful control of imagination and language.

The O/P lays out a few "rules" for those who might be faced with so tawdry a task as meeting face to face with an agent or editor at a conference, but he misses out the most important:

Rule #1: Don't be a jackass.