from the Korean Army to being published

the blog of an "ex-patriot" writer in Korea

Rejection #6: The Longest So Far

with 2 comments

When I woke this morning, I had a reply from an agent waiting in my inbox.

Dear Mr. Beck,

My name is [assistant name], and I’m [agent name]’s assistant at [agency name]. Thank you very much for your query and patience–we sincerely apologize for not responding sooner, but due to the sheer volume of queries we receive, we find it difficult to get to all of them in a timely manner.

We just reviewed your submission, and after conferring with senior members of the agency, I regret to inform you we are going to have to pass on The Accidental Citizen Soldier. We read your query with interest, but we’re afraid your project does not fit our current list, as [agent name] isn’t looking to acquire any memoir titles at the moment. Please do not despair–we are confident that with your talents and some perseverance, your book will find a home with the right agent.

Of course, our opinions are entirely subjective and other agencies may feel differently. I encourage you to query widely, as you never know who will feel that “spark” for your book as it currently stands. We appreciate the opportunity to consider your work and wish you the best of luck finding representation.


[assistant name]

[assistant name], Assistant

[agency name]

After I read the rejection in full, I wasn’t even upset. So what if the rejection is three months late? So what if the agent’s website said she was looking for memoir? It feels like there was a lot of effort taken in writing this e-mail, perhaps more effort than I put in my queries.

It’s possible that this is the assistant’s standard form rejection, and if it is, this guy (lady? The assistant’s name is gender-ambiguous) is a fucking genius. If this was a sincerely written reply by an earnest young assistant, I would tell him (her?) to go ahead and use it for a standard form rejection. All it would take is replace my name and title of my book with whomever the agent was rejecting at the moment.

Yes, I’d rather get a lengthy standard rejection like this that seems sincere than a short, seven-word rejection that is clearly sincere. Why? Because the agent-writer dynamic in the query process is severely skewed toward the agent. The agent doesn’t have to write a polite rejection. The agent doesn’t have to write a rejection at all. At least the former tells the writer the agent has manners. The latter tells the writer that this book that you’ve worked years on is only worth seven of my words.

[Hospital update] I’m still in the hospital. Week 12. I’ve started writing again, mostly out of sheer boredom. But I’ve also started smoking and having my daily coffee and sneaking shots of whisky at night, all of which help my creative process.


2 Responses

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  1. Sorry to hear it, but yes, it’s a good, civil response.

    How’s the healing coming along? Any timetable for when you’re finally outta there?

    Kevin Kim

    March 14, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    • I haven’t had an x-ray in a while but I think it’s coming along okay. They haven’t told me when I’ll be able to go home, but at the same time, they haven’t kicked me out, either. The cast comes off in a couple weeks so I’m guessing I’ll be out of here around then.


      March 17, 2014 at 2:25 pm

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