The ‘Dear Agent’ Letter I Didn’t Send

Allison Nazarian There, I Said It

Dear Agent,

Thank you for taking the time to read my proposal and to send your detailed reply. I have been told that receiving any rejection, let alone a handwritten and/or detailed rejection, is to be taken as a compliment so WOO-HOO!!

I know I am not supposed to reply to you or ask you any questions or express my opinion about your opinion or stray from the strict “don’t mess with me” guidelines from your website. In general, I am a rule follower and follow directions well (as you likely know from your close read of my story and proposal). That is why I am posting this letter on my blog and in my space with no identifying information about you.

Really, I don’t disagree with anything you say about my proposal. I know it’s well-written and fully developed already. I know it is a story that women especially will relate to and connect with and be thankful for in its honesty (refreshing honesty, to use a cliché you likely read lots) and candor. On the other hand, I also know memoir and that weirdly-titled sub-genre of “divorce memoir” is crowded and historically, aside from some standouts, has not been full of blockbuster bestsellers. And, really, how many are clamoring to read about another woman in her 30s who gets divorced, has some decidely-non-suburban-mom adventures and ends up figuring life out?! I would read these books til the cows come home, but that’s just me, and I am strange and read way more than most people.

(I loved my “Eat Pray Love meets Desperate Housewives with your best girlfriend and a dash of Erma Bombeck mixed in for good measure” description — did you?!)

My platform is bigger than lots, but clearly not big enough. And even if it were, lots of fear and unknown in your world right about now: Borders filed for bankruptcy and the digital stuff is a big deal and no one actually reads and your colleagues are closing up their literary agencies and publishers are laying off and ….well, the list goes on, right?

So do I just accept that new authors have just a sliver of a chance of getting published the traditional way?

Do I stop wondering why the Snookis and Kardashians of the world end up with the deals and or why real people are considered a liability when it comes to sales projections?

Do I stop caring that at least half and likely way more of the books on the bestsellers’ lists are not even written by the person listed as the author?

Do I just go ahead and write it first? As in, the whole book? (Because I have a ton of free time, and I am just desperately trying to fill it with unpaid activities!)

Do I share the three or four other strong book ideas I have with agents? Oh, wait, I can’t, because I am not allowed to actually make a connection with you.

I get it. This is a business. You need to justify your job and you need to do things that will make you and your agency make money. You need editors to know that you are someone who is discerning and who would never waste their time. You need to worry about your reputation, your bottom line and your future. I totally get that. I respect that. I’m down with all of that.

The bottom line is that you are part of a sucky system that has one foot in the past and one foot still deciding where it will put itself down. In the meantime, it doesn’t seem all that great for those of us trying to get our own tiny little piece of it.

I know the stories of the would-be authors who kept going no matter what…sounds really idealistic and Woodstock-like. Let’s do it for love, man! But, alas, I’m kind of a practical girl (ya know, being a single mom with a mortgage and all, but you also knew that from my book proposal) so that kind of sucks for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I am NOT bitter. Discouraged? Yes. Uncertain how to proceed? Yes. Wondering about a system that seems to totally operate against the majority of authors (and readers and book buyers, by the way). Yes. Hell, yes. But not bitter.

I am not delusional enough to think that if the world does not have my story we will all spontaneously combust. (I think that is supposed to happen on its own in 2012, right?) I am not stupid enough to think that I am the only good writer with a good idea to ever be rejected. Didn’t J.K Rowling get rejected like 143 times while on welfare and with 16 kids?

I guess for me this means that this is just kind of the end of whatever little remaining sliver of innocence that had told me “Just do it and stuff will happen.” Thanks again for your time and the rejection. It meant a lot.

Maybe I need to go watch The Secret again.

Yours in love, reading and reality,

Alli