What do searching for an agent, and online dating have in common? More than you think.

After emailing with a good friend (I’ll call her “Jane”) about her latest fiascos with men she had met online, I soon received an email from an agent I had queried a few months ago. I took a deep breath and double clicked the message. The word “unfortunately” leapt out at me; no request for a manuscript includes that word.

Not being a stranger to literary rejection, I filed the form letter in my email Submissions folder. After a moment, I opened it back up and read it again.

Hmm, Jane should send this to that guy she went out with last night.
I hit the FWD key and made a few revisions (in bold) before sending it to her:

“Thanks so much for being in touch. You have a fun concept here. Unfortunately, it is you are a bit too similar to a few of our other projects men I have dated, and I am unable to offer you representation another date at this time. Best of luck finding the right home for your work woman. Best wishes, Jane”

Jane emailed back that she had already blocked him because of his bad behavior. Still, she appreciated the sentiment—especially since I was the one who dragged her onto the dating website.

Later that month, I received a few more rejection letters…and Jane met a few more incompatible men. I recycled each agent’s response, and sent them off to Jane with a smile:

“Thank you for sharing your work profile with me. Unfortunately, I feel that in today’s market, I cannot take on projects date men unless I feel strongly about them. I’m sorry to say that it didn’t happen with this one. This, of course, is just my opinion and others may feel differently. I wish you the best of luck with all your publishing dating endeavors. Sincerely, Jane”

And:

“I am sorry not to invite you to submit your manuscript phone number or to offer to represent date you. The material just didn’t grab me, and you deserve an unequivocally enthusiastic agent woman as your advocate mate. I wish you the best of luck elsewhere. Regards, Jane”

I had a feeling of accomplishment, and a sense of satisfaction for my work (albeit not much work was needed). I dug into my Submissions folder, and took out letters I had received before the advent of Jane’s online dating.

What a wealth of material! Jane would never have to sit, thumbs frozen in position over her phone, wondering what in the world to text and not hurt someone’s feelings. I had an unending source of “It’s not you—it’s me” just waiting to be used.

Imagine my delight when I found these gems and promptly shot them off to Jane when one guy hadn’t asked her a single thing about herself until she put on her coat to leave after an hour of conversation:

“Best of luck with this project women and all your endeavors. Due to the volume of queries matches and submissions emails I receive, I’m unable to provide a personal evaluation of your query behavior and/or further explanation of my decision. Warmly, Jane”

And:

“There was much to enjoy and admire in your fantasy adventure, however at the end of the day I didn’t find myself falling in love with your stories in the way that I had hoped and would ultimately need in order to take this on date you. Most cordially, Jane”

When Jane had a man send her a nasty email because she had been busy with work and had not been communicating constantly after one date, I flexed my typing fingers and sent her these snippets from my stash:

“Thank you for thinking of me, but this isn’t quite right for my list. I’ll step aside and wish you the best as you submit to other agents unsuspecting women. Best of luck, Jane”

And

“My opinion is entirely subjective and other agents inexperienced women may feel differently. I encourage you to query date widely, as you never know who will feel that ‘spark’ for your book personality as is currently stands. Jane”

Please note that I am not poking fun at agents. Quite the opposite. I would much rather be a writer sending out queries than an agent getting fifty or more emails a day (with the majority being addressed to “Dear Agent”) from writers who didn’t bother to note that the agent doesn’t rep erotica, but children’s stories.

So for those of us querying agents / dating online / job hunting / (and this is Nashville so I can’t forget trying to get a record deal)—hang in there. Have fun with it. Know that the right agent / soul mate / employer / record label is out there. It just isn’t the right time yet. But if we keep improving our craft / resume / personal hygiene, it will happen.

On that note, I leave you with one last bit of (borrowed) advice:

“Because this business is so subjective and opinions vary widely, we recommend that you pursue other agents / boy or girlfriends / employers / etc. After all, it just takes one ‘yes’ to find the right match.”

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Written on February 7th, 2014 , Uncategorized Tags: , , , ,
Debbie Emory

Making Magic Out of Everyday Moments