Wednesday, February 17, 2010

So You're Telling Me There's A Chance.

I stub my ego enough in my everyday life that hearing "no" from the publishing world has actually been a welcomed little twist. True, they're not interested. But they deliver that unfortunate news in such a delightful way!

My agent wrote me last night with the rejections from some of the editors that currently have my manuscript. The rejections she sent were in "digest form"--her words-- probably meaning, "I took all the marshmallow charms out of the box for you, leaving all of crappy oat-like bits behind. You're welcome."

So here are my first official editor rejections!

From Quirk:
Jason Rekulak asked me to field OPEN-EYED SNEEZE—as it’s definitely more of a Margaret book than a Jason book—and it cracked me up! So many of Jessica’s stories hit close to home. (I seriously considered joining Jazzercize post-college. And, gosh, my mom would be thrilled if I worked for Riverdance instead of Quirk Books! Sigh…) Following the success of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, we are considering more and more quirky fiction, but memoirs are still pretty far outside our comfort zone. Please send me anything else you think might be appropriate for our list, especially funny, oddball stuff like this project. Best of luck finding a good home for it! 

From St. Martin’s:
Many thanks for sending OPEN-EYED SNEEZE by Jessica Martin, which I’ve now had a chance to read.  There’s a lot to like in here.  Martin offers plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and an endearing kind of self-deprecation.  There are good episodes, among them the story surrounding her time in England when she suffered a bout of, let’s say, immobility.  Like David Sedaris, the author is at her best when she’s digressing—something she does naturally and often.  But I’m afraid I had a hard time seeing this as book.  While I enjoyed that meandering quality, the stories eventually began to feel a bit toodirectionless.  The chapters seemed self-contained, not contributing to a bigger narrative arc the way I’d hoped. That’s all to say that I just didn’t fall in love with this one.  I’m afraid I’m going to have to bow out.  But I was glad to have the chance to consider it!  

Thanks so much for thinking of me for for  Jessica Martin's  hilarious memoir. I did read this  last night, and while I thought her writing  was incredibly frank and witty,  and her insights so keenly observed,  in the end I felt like her experiences  weren't quite unique or  singular enough to convince me we could get enough  attention for this.  On one hand, part of the appeal of her writing is that she  is so  relatable, as so many of us have had experienced this sort of   frustration over what to do with our lives, but given how crowded the  memoir  is, ultimately I felt this just didn't have that hook to make  it really stand  out. She's a great writer, no question, but  unfortunately the story itself  just didn't grab me as much as I'd  hoped.

thanks for sending me OPEN-EYED SNEEZE.  I did get a chance to read the manuscript, and I found it funny and charming.  However, I don't know if there's a market for this.  Job-seekers and recent graduates totally need someone to relate to, but I think that they'd be drawn more to straight-out advice than a memoir.  

I actually did dip into the manuscript last night. Jessica is a good writer and I laughed out loud in several parts, but ultimately her negative tone was off-putting to me. She seemed to be trying too hard to make her experience moving home appear horribly pathetic, when in fact, her family sounds quite nice and supportive if a little annoying sometimes-- but whose family isn't? As you know, memoirs can be tough and I'm afraid this one just didn't speak to me enough to take it on. But I'm sure you'll find a good home for it.
That last one is probably the worst, but when I called to tell my mother about it she goes, "Oh, they thought our family was nice! That's nice to hear!"


Sabrina said...

Those are seriously the nicest rejections I've ever heard!! You made so many people laugh out loud, Jess! Super cool! I think this is all a strong indication that you have a great writing career ahead of you. And that you should go easier on your family. :)

Their criticism is thoughtful and I think you can use (some of) it to shape your next works. And I still have high hopes that a publisher out there will recognize soon that this IS the right project for them. Keep it up! This is such an exciting ride! xoxo

Macnabbs said...

These are the most enthusiastic and positive rejection letters I’ve ever seen. Usually they are along the lines of: ‘after reading your execrable effort I was compelled to stand atop a Welsh mountain in the lashing rain, self-harming with a badger and screaming ‘why God why?’ at the tempestuous heavens until I passed out’.

Fictional proprietor of the fictional ‘Black Books’ bookshop, Bernard Black, takes the unusual step of writing a letter back to a publisher who rejects his manuscript. He acknowledges that ‘it’s not the done thing’ to write a reply to a rejection letter, then goes on to explain that his next novel will begin: ‘Bernard’s many friends knew that as well as being incredibly handsome and popular, he was also a man capable of great feats of violence. It came as no surprise to them to learn of what he did to the publisher who rejected his novel, but all agreed the twist that elevated the crime to a work of genius was the use of a flugelhorn as the murder weapon’.

Jess said...

Cheers guys!

Macnabbs-I've never seen an episode of Black Books (although one of my favorite guitar solos ever is in a Nils Lofgren song called "Black Books") but Bernard's response seems waaaay too heavy for me.

When dealing with rejection, I usually just turn to this classic bit of dialogue from Full House:
Little Michelle: Uncle Jesse locked me out!
Joey: Now why would Uncle Jesse do something like that?
Little Michelle: I don't know, I'm a fun girl.

It's actually very helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jess, I pulled this off a website about authors who were rejected many times:

According to one publisher, The Diary of Anne Frank was scarcely worth reading:

"The girl doesn't, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the 'curiosity' level."

15 publishers (other than this dope) also rejected The Diary of Anne Frank.

I'm not trying to say that your memoir is like Anne Frank's in any way, but it just goes to show that many publishers end up kicking themselves in the ass when they miss out on the opportunity another took.

I agree with the others that it all sounds very positive! Good luck!

Matt T.

Jess said...

Hey thanks, Matt.

Pretty bummed you didn't say, "Shot Down!"
Would have been perfect.

Miss you lots. Hey to Amanda.

Anonymous said...

Damn, that would have been a great thing to say! I totally forgot about it... thanks for keeping the glory days alive ;) Hey, did you ever get my email?


Jess said...

I did. Sorry for the complete lack of response. I'll get at you this week, promise.

Anonymous said...

It's Matt again. It's ok, I just wanted to make sure you got it. Also I was hoping you have been busy and not offended or anything. I'm an a at times and know it :)

Maybe I should just post everything on here? Then again, maybe not because I'll just be written off as the a who posts inappropriate comments on your blog.

Hmm, well I was going to finish with a funny one liner...but I don't have anything. Instead, I'll just trail...