Q4U: Your Turn to Rant

Okay, I admit it. Sometimes I get snarky on this blog (some call me haughty) and I can go nuts ranting about the dumbest things. Why do you think I have a blog in the first place??!! A girl needs SOMEPLACE to rant, doesn’t she? Saves my hubby and kids a lot of grief, lemme tell ya.

Anyway, I’m thinking it’s your turn to rant. Complain all you want. What really bugs you about this business? What are your frustrations? And since I’m always giving you tips and “guidelines” for working with me, why don’t you give me some tips for working with YOU?

Go for it. Rant or ramble away. I’m all ears.

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Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Timothy Fish on May 8, 2008 at 6:15 AM

    >My rant about the publishing industry is that it seems like our discussions are backwards. We writers write something and assume that it is good, then we spend our time discussing what we need to do to get it published. The only time we actually talk about the craft of writing is when we bow to the “expert” knowledge of someone who happens to have gotten published. It should be the other way around. The people who have a contract are experts on getting a contract, but the subjective nature of writing makes it so that writing style is open for debate and will always be open for debate. What people like today may not be what they will like next year. Only through an open discussion that includes the opinions of both the old guard and fresh voices can we hope to move toward what people want to read.

  2. Patty on May 8, 2008 at 12:38 AM

    >Your timing yesterday was uncanny. I’m teaching my kids about writing satire. Some of what we looked at was too subtle for them to understand. So, we turned to your blog and -Voila!- they jotted off a couple of scathing pieces of satire that echo your sarcasm. I enjoy your rants, but then, I’m a tongue in cheek kind of person.

    My biggest frustration with the business? Today?

    I don’t know how to make the step from good writer to great. There’s an intangible quality to art that separates good from excellent and I yearn to discover it and apply it. I’m sure there’s a lot to be said for practice and dogged determination, but there’s also a magic that makes some writing sparkle. Where can I get me some of that pixie dust?

  3. Catherine Downen on May 7, 2008 at 10:19 PM

    >Rachelle, I so appreciate that you take the time to educate and encourage aspiring writers, and I don’t care what method of delivery you use. It was obvious to me that your tone was humorous, and I didn’t find it at all offensive. Anyone who has been reading your blog for a while knows better. I’m grateful for the tips. Who else would tell us these things? Could it be that writers are an unusually sensitive bunch? For crying out loud, people, an AGENT is offering you key inside information. Stop whining and start learning!

  4. Marla Taviano on May 7, 2008 at 9:10 PM

    >Wow, Rachelle. I’m trying to picture you sitting at your desk, reading through all these. You’re either crying, laughing, or shaking your head back and forth and back and forth.

    Don’t cry. It’s not worth it. You aren’t a counselor who’s getting paid to make insecure people feel okay about themselves. You’re a literary agent.

    And you’re doing a spanking fine job.

  5. josette on May 7, 2008 at 8:55 PM

    >I wish someone would just tell if I should stop submitting the manuscript or keep submitting.

  6. Debbie on May 7, 2008 at 7:35 PM


    Finding time to read the professional literature and sites necessary to keep abreast of the business. It’s the old “not enough time in the day” problem. Not one that can be solved by an editor or agent … or any of us for that matter. Just bugs me.

    A Kind-of-Rant: Technology Splutters.

    This is more of a concern, but I’m going to list it anyway. Perhaps others have had to deal with this dilemma. I recently realized e-mails were not coming through to one of my accounts (the one most travelled). Nor were they ending up in my junk mail. When I called my tech guy, we found they were “archived” in his box, but only for a day, then the system deleted them! Now … and you know where I’m going with this, don’tcha. I’m concerned that an important e-mail, say from, um, an agent, could have gotten lost in the cyber shuffle. I have two e-mail addys. For future correspondence, would it be considered inappropriate to request that a response be carboned to the second address as a “just-in-case” precaution, or would that be a huge faux pas?

    A real rant:

    That major bookstores have such limited shelf space for Christian Lit.

    One more:

    Egg shell factors. I don’t like feeling like I have to walk on egg shells with anyone. It makes for an all-around uncomfortable situation. I like to believe that as adults, we are all etiquette savvy. I suspect one of the reasons your blog is helpful is b/c you don’t pull punches. You don’t walk on egg shells and you don’t expect your blog readers/participants to do so either. Your post today is a perfect example. You ASKED for rants. You’ve invited your readers to share concerns in the past and post questions that we might otherwise not have an opportunity to ask. You seem to genuinely care what your readers are thinking. I find that a blessing … and this reader appreciates it.


  7. Catherine West on May 7, 2008 at 7:01 PM

    >Holy smack! That’s a lot of ranting.
    Where’s Dr.Phil when you need him?
    I have nothing intelligent to say really.
    I just wanted to be the 50th person to comment.

  8. NIcole on May 7, 2008 at 6:28 PM

    >A sidenote on the self-publishing or custom-publishing business. The more reputable of these (i.e. WinePress Publishing Group, Pleasant Word, POD division) require an editor to assess the work, have skilled cover designers who can produce a cover second to none, go through the typesetting and copy-editing processes until the errors are eliminated, and ultimately present a polished product. Considering all the typos and errors I’ve found in the last several novels I’ve read from CBA, they can’t brag about the final products being superior to anyone’s. And as far as writing goes, it ain’t perfect in CBA or ABA either.

  9. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 5:50 PM

    >Should an editor receive a snarky response to a rejection, the author should anticipate not only never being able to deal with that editor again, but that editor’s company, and any professional contacts that editor may have (which could very well consist of the publishing industry at large).

    Hence the reason that more than a few of us have opted to remain anonymous. A floor being opened to ranting is a good thing and I applaud Rachelle for doing it, but at the same time, one must be aware that other agents/publishers could be watching and take offence.

    I commented earlier about POD and ePublishing not being considered good enough by the industry. I want to clarify I was not talking about PA. I wouldn’t touch them with a barge pole, but there are plenty of smaller companies out there who pay royalties and treat authors with professionalism and respect and who also are POD or ePublishing companies and the way the rest of the industry looks down it’s long and snide nose at them just makes me sick.

    The article that sparked all of this was good and I totally took it as tongue in cheek, Rachelle and was not offended by it.

    I don’t write for the Christian market, but I do read this blog because it is one of the best I have seen as far as advice for aspiring writers goes.


  10. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 5:30 PM

    >My rant is self published print on demand folks saying they are published without making a distinction. It’s just not the same.

  11. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 5:28 PM

    >Gosh, so much good stuff and almost all of it too painful to read. I’d have to agree with Mary DeMuth and Kathryn Harris, although they spoke on different subjects.

    Platform is fast becoming a four-letter word for me. One I don’t even like to utter in mixed company.

    And then again, I agree with Nicole. If it’s beautiful, it will get published.


    I’m not saying CBA doesn’t have some beautiful stuff. I’d just like to see more. I’d like to pick up a book that I want to read, all the way through. In fact, I want a book that consumes me, that I CAN’T put down, that makes me lose sleep.

  12. Myra Johnson on May 7, 2008 at 5:19 PM

    >Kathryn Harris wrote: “My rant: The ever-increasing sacredness of Platform.”

    That hit a nerve with me! I’ll never forget being told at a conference appointment last year that the editor couldn’t seriously consider taking on an unpublished writer who didn’t have a platform of at least 5000 names.

    How in the world are you supposed to develop that kind of following before your novel makes it off your computer and into the bookstores?

  13. D. Gudger on May 7, 2008 at 4:43 PM

    >Love the sarcasm! If you can’t laugh about this business, you’ll be consumed by depression.

    My rant is this:

    Breaking in.

    Not being considered “published” if I don’t have a novel on some shelf.

    Published articles on the web are brushed off as not “real” clips.

    Agents and editors only accepting submission from proven authors.

    How does one get their word creds if no one is willing to publish them?

    CBA feels closed to new voices and is at least three years behind current readership trends (Young Adult and Sci-Fi are exploding in the ABA market, yet CBA shies away)!

    First time novelist hopefuls are expected to write better than the seasoned pros. And figure out how to do so on their own unless they are rolling in the bucks.

    But I can’t help myself. I’m a bookaholic. I can’t NOT write. So, I hang in, hope and pray God knows what He’s doing with my life.

  14. Nicole on May 7, 2008 at 4:41 PM

    >One of my favorite lines in the old series JAG was given by “Mac” in the never ending UST between Harm and her: “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” Loved it.

    So . . . in regard to this comment which eliminates all recognition of subjectivity, marketing theory, and specific agent/publisher needs at the time, “The good stuff gets through. Promise.”, I repeat: “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep.” Or back up with any reasonable statistics. And I mean no offense to you personally.

  15. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 4:38 PM

    >I’m in agreement with the self-publish rant. You see them at conferences, smug on their thrones, selling their tomes of cute things their dog said, and waiting for people to ask for their autographs.

    The whole thing just cheapens actual publishing.

    I wish they realized it’s about what’s ON the pages inside, not about their name being displayed on the cover! That’s not a published work, it’s an ego-trip.

    Whew, I do feel better.

  16. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 4:21 PM

    >It must be difficult to be the first stop for those who aspire to write. I can’t imagine the frustration in playing that role, especially when you’re passionate about the written word.

    That said:

    I wish were more dialogue between the aspiring writer and the publishing world about the writer’s experience in the creative process. It seems those writers who try to open that line of communication in query form are mocked, not by you Rachelle, but by other agents and editors.

    To me there’s a world of difference between the writer who dabbles and the writer who pounds out work after work, with varying results, but must write or die trying. In other artistic endeavors, passion matters. Heart matters. But in writing, it seems we take that huge experience and compress it into a business letter: the query.

    I know: no one enjoys writing the query, but we all must pay our dues. But what if I could instead write a sparkling personal letter to an agent addressing my work, my heart, my committment, my passion and my willingness to do whatever it takes, if I can only keep writing?

    Thanks for the opportunity to get that said. I will write queries because I must, and now I will keep my bellyaching to a minimum.

  17. Kathryn Harris on May 7, 2008 at 3:30 PM

    >My rant: The ever-increasing sacredness of Platform.

    I understand the concept, but it just smacks of the old saying: “You have to spend money to make money.”

    It seems the publishing industry has changed it to: “You have to have attention to get attention.”

    Just a thought…

  18. Tanja on May 7, 2008 at 3:14 PM

    >Sometimes as budding authors it is hard to hear, that in our effort to desperately pursue our dream, we have annoyed the one we were trying to woo in the first place. But life is all about learning and for certain there are always two sides to the pancake. Onward and forward. God bless you Rachelle, He is still on the throne!

  19. Rebecca LuElla Miller on May 7, 2008 at 2:55 PM

    >Rachelle, you said: So I changed it, upped the sarcasm, and tried to write it all with a HUGE tongue-in-cheek so people will get the fact that I’m SMILING while writing it, not growling!

    I thought your tongue-firmly-in-cheek came across in the post. Yes, you were saying what writers needed to hear, but you were doing it in a humorous way, not a mean way.

    May we all be as gracious as you’ve been, while also telling the truth.

    And no, I don’t have a query on your desk, nor am I one of your clients. I arrived here at your blog with the intent to scope your guidelines only to discover you were no longer taking submissions for fantasy. My loss.

    And my rant?

    Someone earlier said it: editors (it would apply to agents also, but I haven’t experience this) who don’t answer queries. At all. Nothing. No acknowledgment that the writer even exists. I’ve even had this happen with requested material. And the follow-up email has gone unanswered.

    I don’t take it personally. Obviously we’re in a buyer’s (publisher’s) market. And notoriously editors in CBA are overworked, with hundreds of manuscripts to slug through.

    But I’ve seen a degree of professionalism (read courteous treatment of authors) from some ABA organizations that I think could serve as models for CBA folks.


  20. Kathi Lipp on May 7, 2008 at 2:22 PM

    >In engineering there is an old saying:

    You can have it faster
    You can have it cheaper
    You can have it better
    You can only have two out of three.

    So do you want agents to get back to you in an expedient manner?

    Do you want thoughtful (meaning a few sentences) critiques (and let’s say that only those who have followed the rules and are submittiing things that have been through a critique group and a paid critique for fiction deserve this…)?

    Or do you want to pay someone to do it?

    When we are criticizing people for not living up to our own expectation, let’s just remember, Rachelle is not exchanging her duties as an agent for watching TV and eating bon-bons. She stops work every once in a while to indulge in things like sleep and feeding her children.

    The good stuff gets through. Promise.

  21. Joseph L. Selby on May 7, 2008 at 1:51 PM

    >I’ve only been reading your blog for a few weeks. Kristin Nelson recommended your blog, so I stopped by. I’m atheist. I’ll never write or attempt to sell in the Christian market, but I think you offer a lot of good advice for writers of every genre, and I appreciate that you take the time to do so. It takes a lot to do this every day and we thank you for it.

    I had thought about responding to yesterday’s post yesterday, but felt it wasn’t that big a deal that warranted me being a downer. It was only because you opened the floor to rants that I took this opportunity to say something.

    Now I’ll offer a rant that isn’t a rebuttal, but a genuine peeve of mine. I dislike people who go around telling others they’re a published author only to find out their work was printed by Publish America. I dislike the tone of authority they use in their opinions of the publishing industry from PP&B costs to reprints, etc. PA has proven time and again that they will publish anything. To suggest that you have some authority in the interest or that your opinions should be better considered because of that offends me.

  22. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 1:47 PM

    >The imbalance of power.

    Specifically with regards to “bad days.”

    It seems to me that if an agent or editor has a bad day and sends a snarky rejection, they get to smile apologetically and promise to do five Hail Mary’s and all will be well. They should be forgiven. After all, they’re human.

    Yet the same courtesy is not extended to authors who have had a bad day. Should an editor receive a snarky response to a rejection, the author should anticipate not only never being able to deal with that editor again, but that editor’s company, and any professional contacts that editor may have (which could very well consist of the publishing industry at large).

    I’m not saying that it should be excusable. I agree that a lack of professionalism is absolutely inexcusable. I just think it should be inexcusable on both sides.

    It won’t, of course. This is just the result of a buyer’s market. But you asked what was on our minds 🙂

  23. Yvonne on May 7, 2008 at 1:31 PM

    >My rants:

    Publishers that don’t reply at all.

    “Poems” that are no more than random phrases or chopped sentences.

    Signs with poor spelling and grammar.

    The lack of reading in our society.


  24. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 1:22 PM

    >I guess the only “rant” I have is sometimes when you’re the “expert” on the topic it can be frustrating when an editor from a publishing house that has no experience with the topic you’re writing about asks you to change an aspect of content because they may not see the value of that specific insight. I want to scream its my method! You can’t change my method!

    but, I’ve had quite a different and completely unique experience. It’s hard to understand the “normal” process of being published because I had a unique situation. I’ve never been to a conference or a critque and haven’t had a project inevitablity denied. So this blog has been so interesting.

    I was asked to write a book by an amazing agent, teamed up with an equally amazing editor and they’ve kinda done the rest. I turn in the manuscript, we edit together, I get the checks and the publicity opportunities. My agent deals with any bumps and I dont even think half of them make it to my ears.

    It seems from what i’ve read that non fiction books don’t have half as much hassle and creative fiction ones.

    I know my situation is quite bizarre and am thankful that I was able to bypass the “process”. I dont think I could have made it any other way!

    Kudos to all the writers. I love reading the blogs and contest entries!!

    Thanks for sharing.

  25. Nicole on May 7, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    >Okay. I’m ready. None of these apply directly to a specific individual in the biz.

    1.Publishers HIRE marketing teams. Why can’t they do their jobs effectively regardless of the allotted funds? They expect authors to come up with things/money, but they can’t? Ridiculous.

    2.Why in the world can’t we see some longer novels in the CBA world besides in thrillers/some fantasy/spec-fic/some historicals? The ABA doesn’t seem to have a problem with size. I know the costs of producing a novel, having custom-published two of them. So don’t give me the “too expensive” plea or the ADD or ADHT excuses for the reading public. Not valid. There are all kinds of readers, all ages, who appreciate “real” books.

    3.”Rules of Writing” aka “the Cloning Process” aka “Formulaic Novels” Too too many on the market. Styles, variety, formats–there are all kinds of readers I repeat.

    4.The nauseating mantra “The great writing will make it into publishing.” If that were so, all the current offerings would be bestsellers.

    5.Finally, I think :), what Mary (De Muth) said, although I would modify it to say “sells to CBA publishers” without proof that it will sell to the masses with a few exceptions. (I don’t think CBA knows how to market it, Mary. And let’s face it, by their own admissions, they only truly market the bestsellers.)

  26. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 12:49 PM

    >CBA Pet Peeve Number Two:

    2. The politics within publishing companies. The stuff writers never see and rarely hear about. The fact that some editors can “sell” better than others, so even if editor A loves your book, she still might not be able to convince the rest of the staff.


  27. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 12:44 PM

    >CBA Pet Peeve Number One:

    1. Blog tours where the bloggers slam the books they are reviewing. Interesting to note, a quick scan of the writing done by this same group of bloggers will reveal that their own stuff would warrant scathing reviews and will probably never get published.


  28. Anne L.B. on May 7, 2008 at 11:56 AM

    >If I’d have known how difficult this process would be I wonder how I’d have had the courage to dream!

    Kate, I’m with you on #2. I once worked an entire summer without an income, borrowing money to pay rent, because I was great at my work but couldn’t bring myself to be the high-pressure salesman it took to competitively sell that work. I HATE having to market myself at all. I feel like I’m walking a tightrope between what I believe God’s called me to do and what I believe God’s called me to be.

    On the other hand, the pressure of presenting my work gives me a more critical eye toward it. This is certain to improve the skill of my craft, and I hope it will make me more humble in the struggle.

    God knew all along what was going to be involved in this adventure. I can feel the Potter shaping me through it. I truly belive that the Lord uses everything for good. It seems like the more pain the greater the potential gain. Which keeps me optimistic about where all this will end — even if the ending doesn’t include getting published.

    I’m truly grateful for those gems in publishing (like Rachelle) who have a heart to encourage us and cheer us along on such a steep and rocky climb.

  29. Katy McKenna on May 7, 2008 at 11:37 AM

    >I guess I do have another small rant: It frustrates me that many (most?) wannabe published writers consider writing a great way to make a quick buck. I mean, there’s NO investment required at all, right? These days, all communications are handled by email, so no expense for paper and ink. And everyone’s got a computer already, so why not give writing a whirl?

    The truth is, it’s important for the unpublished in today’s market to be networking with other writers, agents, and editors at conferences, which can cost plenty. The number of publishers who will consider material without first having an agent or making personal contact at a conference is rapidly dwindling.

    If you know someone who’s recently succeeded in this business without any relationships developed at least in part at conferences, I’d love to hear about it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE ACFW and the other conferences I’ve attended. I’ve made friends to last a lifetime and received invitations to submit to publishers. All I’m saying is that breaking into publishing in NOT free–or even cheap. Just the opposite.

  30. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 11:36 AM

    >After reading all the rants, I rant not, all my rants were covered. I can relate to a lot of what was said. It is a fustrating busy but….we have to keep the faith.

    Rhonda (Rkh)

  31. Kate H on May 7, 2008 at 10:57 AM

    >1) I didn’t really mind yesterday’s blog. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you have to be nicey-nice ALL the time. And it WAS funny.

    2) It’s frustrating to me that although I’ve been through workshops, critique groups, etc., polished my novel till it squeaks, and everyone–including the agents who reject me–tells me my writing is excellent, I still can’t get an agent, and I can’t get anyone to tell me what it is about my novel (or my query, since that’s all most of them see) that doesn’t work. I can’t afford to hire an editor, and if I could, it would still only be one more person’s opinion. I’ve spent more on conferences and classes than I’d be likely to earn as a first-novel advance, and I don’t seem to be a single step closer to getting published.

    2) The personality it takes to be a great writer and the personality it takes to be a great marketer of one’s work are not often found in the same person–certainly not in me. If I ever do get published, my books probably won’t sell just because I’m constitutionally incapable of blowing my own horn. I want to go back to the old days when the publisher actually did the marketing.

    3) I also want to go back to the old days when a novel didn’t have to have blockbuster potential to get published, because potential blockbusters are not what I’m interested in writing.

    4) Thanks for the opportunity to rant. And I don’t begrudge the same to you.

  32. Ulysses on May 7, 2008 at 10:57 AM

    >My rant, my complaint?
    Either I don’t have one, or I have so many they’re bottlenecked.

    – That people aren’t kinder to each other.

    – That everything moves and changes so quickly there’s no time to enjoy it.

    – That my children are going to grow up in a world with more dirt and less wonder than I did.

    – That my meager efforts don’t seem to affect these things.

    Oh, and that I have yet to produce a work of sufficient brilliance and beauty as to merit publication.

  33. Pam Halter on May 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM

    >I join others in wondering why, with email so fast and so easy, do editors/agents say, “if you don’t hear anything in 3 months, we’re not interested.” Come on, if we do the right thing and follow the guidelines exactly, shouldn’t we get a response? Email isn’t perfect and I’ve had things lost in cyberspace. A quick and simple, thank you, we recieved your submission in the beginning and another response of either yes or no, thank you, is only common courtasy. I think attitudes of writers would improve vastly if this basic act of kindness were observed.

    And it happens. I was asked for a full manuscript. I sent it and an hour later, I got an email that simply said “thank you.” I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I was to know my manuscript arrived and the editor thought enough of me to acknowledge it.

    Of course, I’m waiting to see what happens and, of course, it’s taking too long. HA!

  34. Catherine West on May 7, 2008 at 10:11 AM

    >David, I’m going to jump in here because I totally understand where you are coming from. I’ve felt the same way, and I have paid the money that I probably shouldn’t have because what I got back in return wasn’t worth it. However, Rachelle has posted a list on the right hand side of the blog here, of Freelance Editors she recommends. I think you’ll find most of them offer reasonable rates. I highly recommend Susan May Warren.
    Keep at it!!

  35. Susy on May 7, 2008 at 10:08 AM


    CBA has some brilliant, talented, hardworking writers who struggle to survive on the paltry paychecks. When you have a book published, people not in the business assume you’ve made a ton of money. You haven’t. The quickest way to a clinical depression is to figure out how much you’re actually earning an hour. Ouch!

    I blame it on a semi-illiterate culture of people who’d rather sponsor a misogynistic rap music industry or a steroid imbibing sports industry for billions of dollars.

  36. David A. Todd on May 7, 2008 at 9:57 AM

    >That there is no way to find out if your work is good enough to keep going on. Critique groups don’t work–of maybe I have just had the lousey-est of luck with the ones available to me. Having a paid critique of a chapter through a writers conference doesn’t work–the critiquers spend a few minutes on your stuff and do a critique from a checklist. I know this from the meetings I have with them, when they know nothing about the chapter and obviously haven’t read the whole things. Beta readers don’t work–beta readers who are consumers don’t give you critique; beta readers who are fellow writers don’t read as consumers would.

    The only way to obtain honest feedback is to plunk down a bunch of money and have an editor/agent read more than a paragraph of your stuff.

    “Is my writing craft good enough to justify the time to write?”
    “Pay me $1000 and I’ll let you know.”

  37. Nancy I. Sanders on May 7, 2008 at 9:54 AM

    >Dear Rachelle,

    Thank you. I truly appreciate you doing this. To be honest, after yesterday’s blog, I almost deleted your blog from the ones I read. Ouch. It hurt. I’ve done exactly what you described without ever intending it to be the “wrong” thing to do. So I appreciate you taking the time to share why you wrote it and give us time to respond. You see, my number one rant is how so many published writers/editors/agents seem to forget what it’s like to be a brand new writer. Scared when you attend a writer’s conference and hoping beyond hope that you can just TALK with an agent or editor and that they will answer your dreams and even take time to read your manuscript on the spot. All of this is totally wrong, as I’ve learned over the years and now that I sit in the other side of the chair and people come up to me at conferences and stuff their manuscript in my hands and beg me to read it…well, that was me so long ago so I totally still can feel the raw need…and so I read it (oh, sure, I don’t dissect it but just read over the pages in about 2 minutes) and I give them a hug and I try to encourage them to just hang in there and be brave in the journey God has called them to take as a scribe. The whole thing takes about 8 minutes of my time but is life-changing for them. I know because they send comments back to the folks who run the conference telling them so.

    And since you’re offering me ranting space (Smile) my other top rant is this: Why won’t Christian agents jump in and join the amazingly lucrative field of children’s publishing in the secular market? I’m a successful children’s book author and I have an established career. I have secular agents interested in representing me, but I’m just not sure if I can commit myself to their principles…there’s some big houses out there who offer advances for a children’s picture book starting at $40,000 but I have yet to find a Christian agent who works with them on a regular basis.

    So, thanks for being open to making mistakes and thanks for being open to our “rants” too and thanks for “allowing” both of us to be human.

  38. Catherine West on May 7, 2008 at 9:52 AM

    >”I’d like to teach the world to sing – in three part harmony…”

    Okay you caught me on a good day. I’m pretty happy right now. I may come back tomorrow.

    If I had to complain, I’d echo those who have mentioned rejection letters that tell you nothing – form rejections. As a new writer those were frustrating as heck and they made me feel like crap. However, I’ve noticed something.
    Since I’ve worked hard to actually improve my craft and take advice given to me, the rejections have been more helpful. As in, if you want to take my advice and revise this, (suggestions given for said revision) I’ll take another look.
    I might be going out on a limb here, but I’d venture to say that a little humility and a lot hard work do go a long way.
    I too wonder why the publishing business moves so slowly, but given the volume of manuscripts coming in the doors I can understand it. It’s not easy to be patient though when you’re waiting to hear back from someone.
    I also find it very interesting that the majority of these invited rants have been written anonymously.

  39. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 9:50 AM

    >Okay, here’s my rant – I just don’t get why people are so up in arms about yesterday’s post. You are quick to pour accolades on Rachelle for her honesty, her transparency and her authenticity…except when that presents itself in a form you don’t particularly like? Would you prefer she erase her personality and her sense of humor and her frustrations from the blog altogether? What kind of authenticity is that?

    This is a rare blog, folks. Not only do you get valuable publishing advice here, but you also get insight into the mind of an experienced publishing professional – the thoughts and dreams and, yes, frustrations that fill her days. It would seem to me that such insights – for the savvy blog-reader, anyway – are far more valuable than the dry alternative.

    I for one hope Rachelle doesn’t change her spots in response to the complaints about her sarcasm or snarkiness or snarkasm or whatever you want to call it.

    If I just want to learn the facts of publishing, I’ll go buy a book at Barnes & Noble. But if I want to learn about the heart of publishing, I’ll keep coming back here to Rants & Ramblings (remember the title of the blog, it’s not “happy, pretty thoughts all tied up in pink bows”).

    Oh yeah…and one more thing. Whatever happened to grace?

  40. Matthew C Jones on May 7, 2008 at 9:43 AM

    >I gotta say it. My rant is towards people who will post criticism and not sign their name at the end.

    Cowboy up, people.

    Matt Jones
    Jenks OK

  41. Mary DeMuth on May 7, 2008 at 9:42 AM

    >Mon petit rant: That which tickles the ears sells, and deeper spiritual, theologically sound, authentically raw prose has a much harder time.

  42. Richard Mabry on May 7, 2008 at 9:28 AM

    I appreciate the writing tips you give, even when couched in “Kids, don’t let me catch you doing this” terms. Some of your posts remind me of the late-lamented agent, “Miss Snark,” whose blog was totally sarcastic and negative, but everyone understood that. Maybe you need a “Snark Alert” icon to add to the times when you can’t get your tongue out of your cheek fast enough for folks to tell the difference.
    Meanwhile, post on. I’m being entertained and educated every time I open your blog.

  43. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 9:19 AM

    >I don’t think that in order not to be boring or ‘dry’, one must be sarcastic, or that one must use sarcasm to convey personality. I thought Joseph made very good points. I do like humor, and I did grin, at first, reading yesterday’s blog. But I thought it was ‘over the top’. I just didn’t see it as light or tongue-in-cheek. Maybe once we go down the road of sarcasm, it’s hard to stop, or maybe that really is a better glimpse of personality.

    I do read this blog and others, and I think this kind of humor is exhibited all too often. Sometimes I just get tired of it, and find it incredibly patronizing. There are other ways to make people laugh (see my manuscript). I like a friend’s rule on sarcasm: if he wouldn’t say it that way to his wife in front of her mother, he won’t say it. But that’s just him, I guess.

  44. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 9:06 AM

    >Rejection letters that don’t tell you anything. Now, don’t get me wrong. I know you get hundreds of them and you’re not a critique service. But think about it. If there’s something wrong with the material I sent and nobody tells me, how am I going to fix it before I send it to the next agent–or for that matter, before I write my next novel and query you again? If an author gets 10 rejects and they all tell him that he’s sent to an agent that doesn’t rep sci fi, maybe he’ll get a clue and start doing some research before he sends he queries. If he sents to 20 agents and 15 of them say he needs more training, maybe he’ll actually do it. In the long run, spending a little (and I do mean A LITTLE) more time with the rejection letters MIGHT reduce agents’ workload in the long run.

  45. Katy McKenna on May 7, 2008 at 8:59 AM

    >Some years ago, I had a couple of non-fiction proposals in play. My beef is having not one but two publishing houses tell me by phone that “we are sending your book proposal to committee and you will be hearing back from us no later than next week…” and then not EVER hearing a WORD, in spite of me attempting to make contact after waiting a reasonable length of time (which is, of course, one week plus one minute). 🙂 I think I’ve recovered from the trauma, but then again, now I have an agent to bear some of the angst on my behalf! (Thanks, Rachelle….)

  46. Josephine Damian on May 7, 2008 at 8:58 AM

    >Successful, bestselling authors who b*tch about getting a bad review, especially when they deserve it.

    A mid-list author who complains about the state of the business, especially the low advances and lack of publicity they received – nobody held a gun to their head and made them sign their contract.

    E-submissions of an kind, query or short stories – and never hearing back – I’d rather get a rejection than ever wonder if they even got it, and if they replied, my never knowing becaue it got lost along the way. I know it’s important to save the tress, but I rather do a paper submission over an e-submission. US mail I trust – spam filters and ISP or Mac/Windows incompatability I do not trust.

  47. Rachelle on May 7, 2008 at 8:47 AM

    I can certainly understand your non-appreciation of the tone. What I haven’t told anyone is that the post started out as a nice, simple, sweet list of “tips” for writers, just giving them (you) some perspective on how things look from this side of the desk. It was totally non-sarcastic, non-snarky, and boring as all get-out. Sometimes I try to be entertaining or else we will all fall asleep reading my blog. So I changed it, upped the sarcasm, and tried to write it all with a HUGE tongue-in-cheek so people will get the fact that I’m SMILING while writing it, not growling! Obviously, as I mentioned yesterday, to some it didn’t come thru as funny but as sarcastic, mean, etc. Sorry about that. But seriously, wouldn’t you all be bored out of your minds if I just said everything with no personality at all? I don’t know how long you’ve been reading my blog, but everything is in context. I’m not a saint by any means but I try to convey my true nature through the blog which is to be an encourager. Yesterday I hoped to make people grin a little and lighten up. I honestly don’t think that’s a bad thing. Sorry if it came off wrong.

  48. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 8:45 AM

    >The stuffy insistence that epublishing and pod publishing is somehow not good enough. I have heard it until I am sick to death of hearing it.

    Self-publishing, I can understand, but if a writer has been published by a royalty paying publisher who assigned an editor to work with the author, and polish the work and made it the best it can be, how is that any different to a ‘main stream’ publisher?

    I find it snobbish, elitist and annoying that just because someone has not had a novel or two or more published by a so called ‘real’ publisher, he or she is not good enough somehow. That attitude stinks and it really leaves a bad taste in my mouth and a desire to not be associated with elitists!

  49. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 8:43 AM

    >As for tips for working with me, mine is: Work with me, and treat me with the same respect you ask of me.
    Do carefully consider my project, and tell me what you find intriguing about my work: voice, plot, characterization, whatever…and what you thought were my weaknesses. Don’t fear that by doing this I will keep after you. (I know that is the agent’s response to a request for feedback.) I know that a ‘no’ is a ‘no’. Just give me something tangible to take away, and don’t dismiss me easily unless you must.
    In other words, you ask me to put myself in your place, so please put yourself in my place for a moment.

  50. Joseph L. Selby on May 7, 2008 at 8:19 AM

    >Yours is not the only agent’s blog I read and venting is a common occurrence. I frequently hang my head in shame of the stupid things prospective authors do. When reading multiple blogs, the frequency of ranting obviously increases, but I found the manner in which you vented your frustrations yesterday to be particularly mean-spirited. Regardless the endeavor, the first time you attempt something, you are nervous and anxious and convince yourself that the most boneheaded idea is a good one. Once you get some experience, you might slap your forehead and ask, “What was I doing?” But the answer is easy, you were new and had no idea what you were doing. Certainly there is a wealth of information for new authors to learn about the business, what to do, what not to do, so it’s frustrating when you have to deal with their stupid. I don’t disagree with anything you said yesterday and I empathize with your frustrations. I did not like the manner in which you phrased it, though.

  51. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 8:09 AM

    >I agree with anonymous above, but that didn’t come from me.

    I have a problem with the sarcasm that you sometimes find coming from agents. I hate sarcasm and don’t tolerate it in my house, and I don’t think it is ever funny. Maybe that’s because I grew up with it and it was often mean-spirited, so I don’t see it as anything but that.

    I also have a problem when people talk about writers wasting ‘their time’, as if their time is more valuable. Everybody’s ‘time’ is valuable, and more than that, it isn’t even ‘ours’ – it doesn’t ‘belong’ to us. Our time is really a gift to us from God, and I believe it belongs to Him. We get caught up in our schedules and what we need and want to accomplish, and sometimes we lose sight of the fact that it – our ‘time’ – is not assured to us. Anyway, I try to use ‘my time’ wisely and I know we all do, and when others act like my job is to save them ‘their time’, it doesn’t feel like they are too concerned about others, including me.
    Sorry for the rant, but you asked.

  52. Ariel Allison Lawhon on May 7, 2008 at 8:07 AM

    >The length of time between a publisher making an offer on your book and when you actually hold the contract in your hands. But ultimately a great problem to have.

  53. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 8:00 AM

    >OK, you asked for it …

    THE GLACIAL PACE OF THIS INDUSTRY. Honestly, it’s ridiculous, and any other industry that operated this slowly would have been consigned to the dust-bin of failed capitalistic projects a long time ago.

    I’ve been an editor at a publishing company, and I know it’s perfectly possible to write, design, produce and print a 4-color, 300-page coffee table book in 18 months. So why does it take that long for a FINISHED two-color novel to be released?

    Similarly, the length of waiting at various steps of the process (querying, manuscript, revision letter, copy editing, ARCs) is obscene. I’m not blaming agents and editors necessarily, but I think the structure of US publishing is definitely a problem. The whole business model is screwy, from the crazy lead times to the insane return policies that mulch a million trees.


  54. Amy on May 7, 2008 at 7:31 AM

    >The fact that I live in the UK, and the genre I want to write – fantasy – is almost excluively based in the US. Almost no UK agents take fantasy, and even if they did, they’re not the ones I want.

    I’m going to try to get a US agent when I’m ready to submit, but obviously living abroad is going to make that difficult. It’s frustrating.

  55. Anonymous on May 7, 2008 at 6:18 AM

    >The often stated desire by agents to help shape a manuscript yet the manuscript must be completed before an agent looks at it. Something seems to be wrong here.