Romance writer Elizabeth Boyce (some agent needs to NAB this girl, she's great!) posts the most interesting ideas on her blog, and I slow down to take a moment to read each one. Just included her on my recent webinar with Writer's Digest, Platform the Backdoor Way, where I try to explain to people how to start their platform from scratch, before they have that novel or portfolio full of clips. Elizabeth is the perfect example of becoming an expert in her genre before she lands her contract. I know her well enough to know she only wants to publish traditionally, and there's no doubt in my mind she's of the calibre to do it . . . and will ultimately do so.
Anyway, I digress. In her most recent post on Bluestocking Ball, entitled Speak No Evil, Or; Learning When to Shut Your Mouth, Elizabeth speaks about bashing. One involves writing online about all those nasty editors and agents who reject and don't respond or accept something you think is less in quality than your own. I'm all about that . . . not bashing and not identifying people online in a condescending manner. You become remembered in that light. There are some people who post on a couple of list groups I belong to, who can be negative and have snubbed me for being novice. I'll never bash them using their names, but I will never promote them, use word-of-mouth to help their sales, or buy their books. They are done in my eyes . . . there are just too many other authors out there, working just as hard, who have manners.
But the other bashing Elizabeth mentions is one I never thought of. In the hurry to appease the pain of a fellow writer who's been rejected, we often slight the agent, editor or publisher, as if they were complete idiots in their profession. True, we're trying to stroke the ego and feelings of a friend, but does that really help the friend? Chances are the manuscript needed rejecting, and why put down someone simply doing his/her job?
When responding to a despondent writer who's been painfully rejected, consider comments like:
1. So sorry to hear that. Keep trying with other agents/editors. Sometimes it just takes the right timing and the right match.
2. How many rejections? Why not back off the rejections and go over the manuscript one more time? I'd be happy to help.
3. Why don't you rewrite the query letter from scratch and give it a fresh look? Maybe it needs more flavor. I'd be happy to help.
But don't say the editor or agent was a jerk. While there are yucky souls in every profession, to include the publishing industry, doing the dirty task of rejecting those manuscripts that are less than stellar or a poor match at the moment doesn't reflect on the rejector's character. And you might be doing your friend a disservice giving him an excuse from going back and making his writing better.