The ABC’s of Agents and Rejection….

coast-head-shot1Two things happen when I hear the word “agent.”  I either picture an old-school real estate hack sportin’ a tweed jacket wanting to show you some “listings” or I conjure up images of some smarmy guy covered in gold chains looking to rob you blind and laugh all the way to the bank.  Yes, my agent philosophy isn’t exactly a positive one, but my brain is a strange place. 

I think my negative impression of agents dates back to an episode of “The Facts of Life” in which Blair gets taken for a ride by some flashy Hollywood player who just wants to feel her up.  ..Wait, hang on, it could have been Tootie, or even Mrs. Garrett, but either way, you get the picture. I’ve always thought agents were folks I wanted to avoid, and the idea of having one was just a ridiculous, pretentious notion.

 Then I got one. 

 I didn’t really want one, but my trusty “Publishing for Dummies” book said landing an agent was basically the only way to get a book deal, so I figured I had no choice.  I wrote a solid query letter, picked 50 literary agents in New York, LA, and Chicago and hoped for the best.  I wasn’t prepared for the rejection letters.  They were short, cruel, and heartless…kinda like when someone at your job gets fired and it’s extremely obvious by the chilly tone of the office memo. 

Dear Staff,

Samantha Parker is no longer part of the Rainblow Team.  We wish her well in her future endeavors.  Should Samantha choose to visit our offices, treat her as a guest and immediately call security.

Literary rejection letters are pretty much the same. Some agents are so heartless they actually send out rejection postcards.  On the front, it’s a picture of a dreamy waterfall, or some fresh flowers, and you think “How nice, one of my friends must have thought of me on vacation.”  Then you turn it over only to discover the horror of a “public rejection notice” for all the world to read. 

Dear Wannabe Writer,

We received your materials and they suck. 

Thanks for contacting us.  Never do it again.

Great,  even your postal carrier knows what a loser you are!

Just when I had lost all hope (and gained 22 pounds from stress-eating) I was driving home alone when my cell-phone rang and I noticed a 212 number.  I figured it was my husband calling from his job in the city, so I picked up and heard the words I will never forget:  “Hi Maria, this is Linda Konner.  I think your book is hilarious, and I’d love to represent you.”  I almost ran off the road, and I remember holding back tears as Linda explained the general publishing process.  I kept thinking it just wasn’t real, and I would wake up from my delusional dream. 

It’s been almost 4 years since Linda’s call, and I now consider her a good friend.  She’s tough when she needs to be, kind and compassionate when necessary, and has held my hand through this insane process..lots like a mom, but more like a big sister.  I’ve learned so much, and I’m so glad Linda picked me (God knows how much I’d weigh by now!)

Thanks Linda, you will always be my hero.

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Maria Garcia-Kalb

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7 thoughts on “The ABC’s of Agents and Rejection….

  1. Funny post, Maria. It’s so true: rejection notices can be awfully cruel. A sense of humor is key!

  2. I liked the part about your postal carrier knowing about the rejections. I always thought that too.

  3. Supposedly those rejection letters aren’t meant to be taken personally but they can still hurt. So glad THAT CALL didn’t hurt you…or the car! 😉

  4. I’m amazed she went straight for the phone call, without emailing first! She must have really wanted to pounce on you 🙂

    Getting the call while driving is bad enough, but it could have been worse…you could have been in a public restroom! *Yuck*

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