Of course I paid for the privilege of this rejection, providing as I did both the self-addressed envelope and the stamp, like a submissive pupil handing the birch rod to the head mistress.
My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring me to hold a skein of thread: while she was winding it, she talked to me from time to time, asking whether I had ever been at school before, whether I could mark, stitch, knit, &c.; till she dismissed me, I could not pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd’s movements. When I returned to my seat, that lady was just delivering an order of which I did not catch the import; but Burns immediately left the class, and going into the small inner room where the books were kept, returned in half a minute, carrying in her hand a bundle of twigs tied together at one end. This ominous tool she presented to Miss Scatcherd with a respectful curtesy; then she quietly, and without being told, unloosed her pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a tear rose to Burns’ eye; and, while I paused from my sewing, because my fingers quivered at this spectacle with a sentiment of unavailing and impotent anger, not a feature of her pensive face altered its ordinary expression.
“Hardened girl!” exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; “nothing can correct you of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away.”
Yes, like that.
April 24, 2012VIA EMAILDear Emily Butler:
Thank you for your material for TUDOR SPRING, which I found to be an engaging read.
Yet, I’m afraid that I don’t feel sufficiently enthused to feel as if I’m the right agent to represent this project on your behalf.
Publishing is a subjective business and another agent might very well feel differently. I wish you all the best with your work.
[name redacted to protect the guilty]
All signs indicate that this agent is superb, and we enjoy being rejected by the finest. Nevertheless, we draw your attention to the second paragraph, which needs a re-write pretty desperately.
First of all, I’d like to start with an apology for not being able to offer individual feedbackas a response to your query. I really wish I could offer each person who takes the time and the emotional energy to send me a query a personalized response, but if I did, I wouldn’t have the time to properly represent my current clients. As you’ve probably guessed by this point, we’ve determined that, unfortunately, we don’t believe Folio is the right agency to represent your work right now. If you queried about a nonfiction project, the most likely reason we decided not to take it on was because as an author, your platform isn’t big enough yet. (If you’d like to learn more about platform, why it’s so important, and what you can do to build yours, the best place to start is to watch the video on Folio’s website here: http://foliolit.com/
nytimesbestseller/) Once you’ve watched that, click on the link below the video for more free training on platform building from Folio client Brendon Burchard. If you queried about a novel, then the most likely reason we’ve decided to pass is that you didn’t tell us enough about what the book is actually ABOUT. (That’s probably why we pass on 20% of fiction queries.) For the other 80%, though, the old cliche holds true– it’s not you, it’s us. The decision to represent fiction is highly subjective, and for whatever reason, the subject about which you’re writing just didn’t inspire that aha! moment an agent needs to take on a novel. Given market trends, we’ve had to become extraordinarily selective with first fiction. As either a novelist or a nonfiction author, though, if you’re getting form letter rejects from most or all of the agents you’re querying (or if they’re just not responding at all) there’s actually some good news: chances are the problem is with your query letter itself, and not the underlying book. For some tips on how to improve your query letter, click here: http://foliolit.com/ submissions/basic-information-Again, though, I’d like to thank you so much for the opportunity to consider representing your book. Stories can change the world, and every one of us has an important one to tell. I wish you all the best in finding the right home for your story. on-query-letters/
See you on the bestseller list,
P.S. If you’ve received a duplicate of this email, I apologize. Our query system is still relatively new, and we’re still working out all of the kinks.
this is utterly lame. it’s so lame it’s almost sweet–as if this agent were entreating me to simultaneously reject him on the grounds of his utter lameness. which I have done, per his explicit invitation.