The Subtle Difference Between Professional and Psychotic Hosebag
Posted on May 4, 2008 Posted by John Scalzi 17 Comments
La Gringa with a sample letter from someone who apparently doesn’t want an agent as much as he thinks he does.
Folks, this is simple. As far as writers go, the difference between a professional and a psychotic hosebag is not that psychotic hosebags take rejection personally and professionals don’t. The difference is that even when the professionals take rejection personally, they’re smart enough not to lash out about it. The best revenge is not to write a letter that pegs you as a psychotic hosebag, it’s to keep at it, become successful, and then know that the people who rejected you are kicking themselves nightly that they let you slip through their fingers. Yes, yes. That revenge is sweet indeed.
Voice of (satisfied) experience?
Maybe a little, but not horribly so. After I got an offer for OMW, I approached an agency about representing me, and after some consideration, they decided to pass, which led to me being with my current agent. Later, after I had been nominated for the Hugo for OMW, I was at a party relating my early agentorial troubles when an agent I was friendly with asked why I hadn’t queried her agency. I had to tell her that hers was indeed the agency in question. She appeared vexed at the news. That made me smile.
That said, this particular agent is a real gem of a human, who has a number of my good writer friends as clients. It wasn’t her fault her agency didn’t pick me up as a client.
Looks like somebody’s walking on the wrong side of Psycho Street.
Holy crap. This writer sounds like someone whose work you wouldn’t want to represent, even if he was good, just because he must be a real pain to work with; nothing the agent or editor could do would ever be good enough.
I think John pegged it; living well is the best revenge. Become successful so you can encounter these people later and drive them to swoon over your graciousness and good will. It doesn’t matter if you’re (silently) thinking, “Nice pass, moron.”
I like the part in the hate-mail where the author is proud of having cut “the non-believers” out of their work.
And then goes on to rant about not being believed in.
I also like the part where they queried an agent, and then get upset that they’re talking to an agent instead of an artist.
What I really loved was that this guy didn’t even send a writing sample with his query letter like he was supposed to. So the agent was just supposed to overlook this and recognize this guy’s ‘talent’ on the basis of nothing?
My bibliography would be SO much more impressive if I included all the unpublished, unsent and even unfinished works I have ever produced. On the other hand, none of that matters. (grin) Anyone who doesn’t understand the difference is doomed to failure — thank god.
I do predict, however, that this GENIUS writer of SIGNIFICANT WORKS OF GENIUS may be well on the way to making some vanity press people have some nice paydays.
… and thanks for playing our home game, sucker.
I don’t know, I’d say it’s okay to write a psychotic letter, it helps to get the bile out. It’s mailing the damn thing that marks you as someone unhinged.
As far as I’m concerned, they can just keep doing that. It makes ME look like the soul of reason.
Of course, I am the soul of reason when dealing on a professional level with editors, whining on LJ under a f-lock notwithstanding. But seriously, the most I’ve ever done is write back thanking them for their time. And if an editor gives me crit, that’s just a BONUS, man. Even if I don’t agree with it, I’d never send a nasty letter back, because that would be unprofessional.
Who raised these people?
I haven’t queried an agent in four years or so (save for once–very, very flippantly) but then when you write horror fiction, it’s a waste of time to do so. Who needs the bother. Not I. Yes, I have an attitude problem, one which will only be remedied by my demise…
As for writing scathing replies to rejections, that’s not only professional, it’s a waste of energy and … silly. If an agent does not want to represent, it’s most certainly because–bottom-lining it–they are not confident that they can sell it. Why would I want an agent representing a work that, by their own admission, they haven’t a clue what to do with. There are limits to my masochism.
I meant to write: As for writing scathing replies, that’s not only UN-professional…
That’s what I get for leaving a comment before an adequate dose of caffeine and mind-goosing artificial sweeteners…
The most psycho writer I ever dealt with was so naive, he thought “sure, send us a proposal” was a formal contract for publication. Things went south from there. Ultimately, he decided that the threat of lawsuits (for breach of nonexistent contracts) would be the way to get us to publish his stuff.
He was wrong.
Patrick Price, editor of AMAZING STORIES, used to have a file of responses to rejection. Some of them called down very inventive curses on his head for failing to recognize the writers’ great genius.
I would hope that professional hosebags could write better flames than that!
See, that poor writer is just doing it wrong. Here’s how it’s done:
I just love it when you stir the pot…
Ya Can’t Fix Stupid….
I’ve read some great “rejection blues” stories. Channeling that frustration into writing seems like it could be lucrative as well as therapeutic.