Random Rejection: L. Perkins Agency

This week we have another one of those lovely impersonal rejection letters from a literary agency, in this case, L. Perkins Associates:

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This one is so totally impersonal that I can’t even say anything clever about it.  Nor do I know what I submitted, or when.  In fact all I know for sure is that they didn’t take it.  In fact I probably shouldn’t even have posted this one, as I can’t really elaborate on it with any facts whatsoever; but my policy is that whatever letter I pull out of my accordion file of rejections (and a few acceptances) gets scanned and put online, so, there you have it.

Wow, that was dull.  Here, let me do a little dance to make up for wasting your time.  And a one and a two and a one two three …….

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10 Comments

  1. That last paragraph sucks. In the letter, I mean. It’s kind of like he’s saying there contradicts the first paragraph. To wit:

    Par. 1: “Don’t take this rejection as a reflection on your writing, because it isn’t mean to be.”

    No? Then, what do you mean by this – included in your letter of rejection, or, your “I don’t want your book” letter?

    Par. 2: “What I’m looking for are extremely well-written, blah blah blah, of hardcover quality.”

    (Unsaid: Your book does not meet these criteria. = This IS a reflection on your writing, but I’m not telling you how because I’m very busy.)

    I understand the need for form letters, truly. As well as the right to a preference. I’m really just picking on the writing of the letter.

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  2. I don’t know but I get the feeling that they did not even look at it.
    Like sometimes when we are so far behind on our blog reading we just mark all as “read”.. you know 😉

    I think it is a very sucky rejection letter also! I don’t even know whether you would want to deal with someone like that 🙂 hehe

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  3. I cannot imagine when you received this, as Peter Rubie and I have not worked together since 2000.

    He has since started the Peter Rubie Literary Agency, which has reinvented it self as Fine Print.

    This has nothing to do with my agency now.

    Lori Perkins
    lperkinsagency@yahoo.com

    Jim says: Neither can I, since there’s no date on the letter. If I were still running Windows I could consult my old manuscript tracking database and find out, but I’m not. Given that I’ve been submitting novels to agents since about 1992, it could have been anywhere between 1992 and the time Mr. Rubie left your agency. I guess that doesn’t narrow it down very much.

    I’ve been wondering for a while if the source of any of my random rejections would stumble across them, and what their reaction would be; it looks like you’re the first (although you didn’t actually write this rejection, so perhaps it doesn’t count).

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  4. With a number of published books under my belt now (including fiction and nonfiction) I think it fair to say I genuinely understand both sides of the equation here. The best rejection I ever got was a handwritten note from George Scithers of Amazing Stories: it kept me going for ages and renewed my belief in myself that I could write publishable fiction. The worst was a typewritten note that told me I was a loser and couldn’t write and the story I’d submitted was the worst the editor had ever read. I get it.

    No one likes to be rejected, that’s just part of the human condition. However, it is a part of my job that is unavoidable, and so, of course, an antagonistic situation is created whether one likes it or not. Parsing the letter (one I haven’t used for many years and I tried, obviously utterly unsuccessfully, to make as much about my needs as the writer’s submitted project, and which is way pre-millenia! — hey anyone got rejection letters from Max Perkins too?)seems frankly to be a bit of a waste of everyone’s energy. It’s like obsessing over why the cute cheerleader will happily chat with you in class but just won’t go out with you on a date. Does it really matter why? Go on with getting your act together and finding the girl who WILL go out on a date with you. Perhaps rejection is an opportunity for some self examination of THAT particular PROJECT, rather than continually believing ALL those others must be wrong.

    Yes, I read everything, even now after 20 years in the business. Are there good writers with crappy ideas out there I won’t take on? Absolutely. Are there crappy wriers with fantastic ideas out there, true too. What I look for in general is a strong voice on the page, and strong emotional content in the material (as opposed to sentiment or melodrama which is often confused with it). This is extremely difficult to find, believe it or not and everyone’s opinion is different which is a blessing. For example, I think Elvis Costello has never met a note he coudn’t strangle, though his wife actually is a pretty good singer. Thankfully for Elvis — and alas for me — many thousands of others utterly disagree with me, and forcefully so as well.

    It’s about what catches our interest and also fits with what we feel is commercial enough to thrive in the market place, which currently sucks — in a word. The last point I think you should all bear in mind is that over the course of a year we get literally THOUSANDS of queries and manuscripts and if we crafted a personal rejection for each one — and critiquing what I get is not part of my job, I might add — I would never get any work done, and then the writer amongst you who was my client would quite rightly start getting very pissed off that I was spending all my time dealing with books I couldn’t do anything for, and very little time dealing with books I DO think I can do something for, namely his.

    Jim says: I’d like to thank Peter for taking the time to write this lengthy comment on an old rejection letter. Part of Writing 101 is learning to accept that for the most part, you’re going to be rejected, and that, also for the most part, the rejections are going to look like this one. I would never, however, suggest that one abandon a project on the basis of such a rejection.

    For those who are new to this blog, the “Random Rejection” feature is where I reach into my filing cabinet (which contains every rejection [and every acceptance] I ever received), pull a letter out, scan it, and post it. It doesn’t matter how old, how boring, how impersonal, or how helpful (which some of them are) it turns out to be; whatever I grab is what goes up. I don’t do this because I feel wounded by old rejections; I do it because people seem to find them interesting, and because they give me the opportunity to make snarky remarks, and because it’s not easy coming up with new material every week. As my blog tends to be haunted by people on the writer side of the fence, the comments generally skew in the direction that you see here.

    Anyway, for the record, this is hardly the most impersonal or least useful rejection I ever received. Those honors are still held by rejection slips from “The New Yorker”.

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  5. Pingback: It Had To Happen Someday « James Viscosi’s Scribblings

  6. I have discovered that writer-types regularly like to Google themselves. This is no doubt how both of these folks found your post. I’ve had the same thing happen on my blog, and it always surprises me. Try writing a book review and you’re very likely to get a response from the author!

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