Random Rejection: Sandra Dijkstra Agency, 1994

So one of the things I used to spend a lot of time on was trying to get a literary agent.  (I’ve had a grand total of three over the years, and none of them ever sold a single thing.  But that’s a different post …)

Here’s an exchange that’s pretty typical of how my interaction with a literary agent would go.  First I would send a query (possibly including sample chapters), and then I would get back something like this:

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Hey, wow, cool, they want to see more!  So I would package up whatever they asked for (in this case, 50 pages) and ship it out and then wait … and wait … and wait … and then finally I would get back something like this:

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Curses!  Foiled again!  I had all the books that they would recommend for finding literary agents … a new copy of Writer’s Market every year … a new copy of literary agent listings every year … and what did I end up with?  A collection of outdated reference books.  *SIGH*  Now we have the Internets, of course, so I can find literary agents quickly and easily online without sacrificing any shelf space, which makes the whole process of getting rejected go a lot faster.  (Or it would, if I were still looking for an agent.  Which I’m not.)

You may be curious as to what book was under consideration here.  To be honest I can’t remember.  From the time frame (early 1994) it was most likely either Night Watchman or Long Before Dawn.

Interesting side note:  I now live only about twenty-five miles from where this agency is located.  If I were a client, I could drop by for lunch from time to time.  But, oh well.  They’ll have to buy their own pizza, I guess.

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4 Comments

  1. Bummer! Good attitude on your part though.

    Jim says: Thanks … rejection letters are always disappointing, but if I took them each to heart I would never have been able to keep plugging away for this long.

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  2. What a crappy form letter ….. enjoy the pizza & beer with your lovely wife.

    My first thought was back to a scene from Legends of the Fall where Anthony Hopkins after having a stroke manages to lift his middle finger and slurs out “screw’em”!

    Yeah! That’s the ticket.

    Jim says: It’s a very successful agency (one of their clients is Amy Tan) so the fact that I elicited any interest from them at all is pretty good, I guess … Anyway, you get used to form letters when you start submitting!

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  3. I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked that agency anyway. They sound cold somehow. I know they get tons of requests though. There is politics in everything, isn’t there?

    Jim says: There sure is! This exchange is fairly typical, though. It’s all business, and once they’ve decided not to work with you, any time they spend on you is just overhead.

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  4. I think the agencies really aren’t looking for anything other than justifying their jobs. They will stick with their roster for the most part. But we will all try anyway…I guess… If not the independent publisher revolution moves on…

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