the collective, propoganda, politics, collective

Agents of the world: whip me harder... I love it.

This is a big one, for writers. Most of us are about as objective with our work as a first-time parent is with their little snookie-wookums. Most of us know what we're trying to say, and if the reader doesn't get it, then there must be something wrong with them, right?

Not right. There's a problem--a disconnect, if you will--but it isn't on their side.

We don't get to really understand that until someone stands up in front of us, and tells us in the most tactless way possible. That's why I love agents.

Agents go through hundreds of queries each day.  I've been in that situation myself, and let me tell you, you get very good at prioritizing your time. You can speed-read an email and get the gist of it in 10 seconds flat. After that, your knee-jerk reaction is almost always the right one. I learned very quickly to respond to emails with one of two answers: "NFW" (you figure out what that anagram means), or "K". After that, if there were any questions, we could work them out after I got through my 500/day email habit that had to be completed in an hour or less.

So, when I get an actual rejection from an agent, it is a VICTORY. Someone who doesn't know me from Adam is willing to tell me, to my virtual face, that there is something wrong with what I sent them. It doesn't matter that they're responding to a query. It didn't excite them, and it didn't make them want to read further. That's enough, in this marketplace, to warrant the response. Like an amazing editor, a good agent will make you feel like a worthless piece of filth, and simultaneously make you want to knock their socks off. I've had the distinct honor of working with one of these people (Monica Speca--hire her for your work). Now I'm looking for an agent, too.

For this book at least, I must thank the following wonderful agents for being both willing to do their jobs, but also to tell me I suck. If I ever have anything that you might be interested in, I'll be back.

Jennifer Jackson, with the Donald Maass Literary Agency--Thank you for the quick beating. I'm building my stamina up.
Jennifer Bent, with the Bent Agency--Wow, that is the nicest rejection I think I've ever gotten. Use more follow-through with the whip. We squeal, but we love it.
Maria Vicente, with D4EO agency--even though you are an assistant, next time I'll send it to you. Thank you for your dismissal.

I would like to make a special note of Elizabeth Griffin. Although I have not heard back from you, yet, I want to say that I appreciate the auto-response that you received the query. The simple acknowledgement that you received it set you head and shoulders above the rest, so far. Yes, I know that your email system did it automatically. I don't care. It's the little touches that matter, and it didn't cost you a thing to do it.

All of these responses mean that FROM A BROKEN LAND is alive, and fighting. Like its main character, it just wants to find a decent home and forget about the struggle. Like its main character, it will not be allowed to do so, until the job is finished. Finally, like the main character, each rejection, conflict, or struggle helps to define its future. Rejection is a part of the process.

If you're a writer, get good with it. Quietly thank each agent for their rejection (but only quietly... don't double their email). Each one is a reaffirmation of the life of your project, or a quiet hint that the project was never breathing to begin with. Take the rejection and use it to drive your rewrites. Wear the scars with pride.

Not everyone has what it takes to be cut.