Do You Have A Partially Completed Manuscript?

It’s been a while since I did a Random Rejection, so this week I thought I would reach into my giant file folder of writing correspondence and pull something out of it. But instead of either a rejection or an acceptance letter, I drew this instead:

Are you now or have you ever been an unknown writer?
Are you now or have you ever been an unknown writer?

Lack confidence in your unfinished project? Not sure if you should bother wasting time finishing it? Never fear! Here is an unsolicited advertisement from a literary agency offering to review what you have and tell you if it sucks or not. Let’s read more about this valuable service!

If you don’t know what literary agents do, it’s probably too soon to be looking for one.

Hmm, I haven’t submitted manuscripts to literary agents in quite some time, but I do remember this: I never had a manuscript returned unread. Why? Because either I first sent query letters, and only sent the manuscript upon request; or, when starting off by sending a manuscript, I only sent a partial, and only if the agency’s submission guidelines specifically said they accepted partials. This is basic research that any serious writer should do ahead of time, even back in the pre-Internet days to which this solicitation obviously dates. But this letter isn’t targeted at that kind of writer.

Tip of the week: If you are talented and persistent, you can succeed without going through a program like this.

At this point you may be wondering why I held onto a mailing for a service I had no intention of using. Simple enough: I held on to everything. I have form rejection slips in that file that I have no idea what story or book they were for, but they’re in there nevertheless.

Woo-hoo, Daisy Wheel Printer and Diskette references! And when you’re ready, you can submit your manuscript to a BBS at 300 baud using your acoustic modem!

Ah, for simpler, more analog times (I am guessing this dates back to around 1994).

As a writer who constantly heard “we have no idea how to categorize this” or “we have no idea how to market this”, I find this selection of overbroad categories amusingly short.

Of course the only thing more delightful than discovering new writers is collecting a hefty fee for doing so! If I had, for example, accepted this “invitation” for the original 400,000-word manuscript of Shards — which did exist in some form back in the 1994 era — it would have cost $750, or, in today’s dollars, about $1,200, for them to tell me the manuscript was unsalable (which it was) and perhaps even that it should be abandoned. The alternative, suggests the solicitation, would have been to send it out to other agencies without paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars and thus get it back in a box, unread, with no helpful suggestions or other feedback. But I guess no one told other agents that.






Thanks again, David H. Morgan, for giving me some of the best advice I ever received in a rejection letter. I did put Shards aside for close to twenty years while I toiled in the horror genre before dusting it off and rewriting it, but when I finally did, I kept all of your feedback in mind. The world’s trees thank you as well for twenty years of my printing proofing/editing copies on the backs of other pages.

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