This has only happened a few times to me personally, but this is the email I hate getting the most from a writer who I’ve rejected:
Dear Idiot (they usually use my name but this is the subtext),
I just want you to know that I got offered representation for the project you so viciously rejected and my new agent just sold it for big bucks.
HA HA HA! Go cry now, you sad little agent. (Again, usually implied instead of stated outright.)
Suzi B. Writer
I just don’t understand this impulse. Sure, I rejected the project. Sure, that probably didn’t feel good to the writer on the other end of the email, but look! They found someone who loves it! They found someone who was able to sell it in this challenging marketplace! Congratulations!
Every book sale is good news to me because that means editors and publishers are still acquiring new talent. That doesn’t mean there’s one less book sale available for me to grab, that means there’s one more book hitting shelves, one more editor gainfully employed, one more publisher making an investment. That’s great news!
Suzi B. Writer, in the example above, is laboring under the false notion that I’ll… what? Fall to my knees and curse myself for rejecting her? No. I reject most things because they’re not a fit for me. Because I don’t see how to position the project in the marketplace. Because I can’t get through it once, let alone imagine how I’ll read it three, four, five times, or even more than that, while the writer works on revisions. And I reject things, always, with the caveat that the next agent might completely fall in love with them. And that’s great for everyone involved, me included. What else does the writer hope to accomplish? Me seeing the error of my ways and begging to represent them? No. The book’s already been sold. And besides, I’ll stand by my rejection and think that the project still wasn’t a fit for me, personally, because I give everything that comes into my slush careful consideration.
So I just don’t get it. Instead of celebrating the success of your project and your dreams coming true, why sit around and rub your book sale in other people’s faces? In publishing, it helps to have a good, grateful and generous attitude about everything, even if things don’t always go your way. It’s very much a difficult and emotionally draining business and there’s already enough negative energy about it, what, with rejections going around all day long. Don’t add to the pile by being anything less than kind and positive in your dealings with other writers and publishing professionals… especially if you’re going to be stepping up to the plate as a published author soon!