15 January 2007

I Read Them With Interest

Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 4:09 pm

So I’m getting ready to send my book proposal for The Seven Creations around to some literary agents. One possibility I’m looking at is the Brandt & Hochman Agency in New York. So and I’m looking for info about this agency on the internet and I come across a discussion on WritersNet. Somebody says this about Brandt & Hochman:

One of its agent wrote me a rejection, thus:

Thank you for sending the pages to your novel. I read them with interest. But I must admit I was not fully drawn to the material. My personal feeling is that the storytelling seemed weaker than I usually like, and to my mind the characters felt underdeveloped. I never really felt I knew them. Without being passionate and with so many personal reservations I would not have the right instincts for selling it. I'm sorry I can't help more. I hope you will get other readings and I wish you success with your writing.



Brandt & Hochman

A courteous enough reply, I thought. Then comes the next comment in the string:

Thank you so much for that! Just last night I received the identical, word-for-word rejection from you-know-who! This really helps me in my understanding of these rejections, because I thought that the wording applied directly to my novel - and I did find it hard to believe that he found my storytelling weak, which is usually what I get most praised on. Jeez, I thought I could tell whether I was getting a form letter or not, but this time, they really pulled the wool over my eyes! As usual, I'm grateful to Writers Net - and all you wonderful folks! Thanks!

Then, awhile later, the first guy again:

And my writer friend, quoted above, send him a non-fiction proposal, and she got the same identical rejection, which caused her to laugh. It's amazing how they attempt to masquerade in such lazy fashion!

A third commenter summarizes his thoughts on the matter:

Well, I guess they feel that if a form letter works, why not work it? LOL Maybe they want to be seen as benevolent and pro-writer but don't want to take the time to actually read the material so they crank out a standard form letter and never stop to think that any two rejectees might compare notes.

Finally there’s a fourth guy, who got a personalized rejection letter from B&H:

Whether a rejection is personal or form, all rejection letters are REAL rejections. I wasn't flattered that it was a personal letter. Bottom line it's yes or no, you're thrilled or pissed or whatever.

So, in dealing with a literary agency would I rather: (a) get no reply at all; (b) have them tell me my book sucks in very specific ways; or (c) get a form rejection letter tempered with encouragement that’s automatically generated without anyone ever having read what I sent them? (BTW, I’m not sending my stuff to Brandt & Hochman.)




  1. Maybe God is telling you to self-publish.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 15 January 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  2. Maybe God should start a publishing house that puts out only really good books. Then he could give the buying public eyes to see that his books really good, so all God’s titles get snapped up off the shelves. He’d make a fortune!

    Or, maybe God could start some sort of distribution scheme for self-published authors.


    Comment by ktismatics — 15 January 2007 @ 8:34 pm

  3. Actually, God has already done this. He published 66 books. Over time they were consolidated into a kind of anthology of sorts – a canon, if you will. From what I hear it was the best seller of all time. After all, there is something for everyone: legal texts, good stories, moving poetry, violence, class warfare, betrayal, and of course lots of stuff about sex.


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 15 January 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  4. Sorry about that last one….i guess i just couldn’t resist….


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 15 January 2007 @ 11:38 pm

  5. On a more serious note…

    I think that your post continues to confirm how disenfranchised one can get with the big business of publishing.

    From what I have seen it really isn’t all that much to print books. But distribution is a bitch….


    Comment by Jonathan Erdman — 15 January 2007 @ 11:40 pm

  6. On the publishing tour too; I’m reading Jenna Glatzer’s(http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums) free advice on the non-fiction publishing process.
    I know Dutch writers who do POD and sell their own books on internet. If you don’t need editing and have a niche book, Jenna suggests considering self-publishing. There is a difference between self-publishing and POD. Self-publishing means self-investing in the book and advancing the costs of printing. POD requires no to little advance. But POD books are more expensive and this means you have to sell them at a higher price. Advantages are: no storage, little investment, distribution. Disadvantage: price for the custommer, awaiting printing takes a week (about). Whatever way you publish, publicity is always for the author. There are a few authors that say they were banned by publishers after POD, but this was not the case in the Netherlands. I’m not sure it is the same for non-fiction and fiction alike. Also consider Amazon if your audience is worldwide.


    Comment by Odile — 17 January 2007 @ 1:52 pm

  7. Thanks for the link. I read the free brochure — it still seems fairly expensive. If the publishing house charges 5 euros per book and the minimum retail price is 11 euros and the bookstore gets 40%, the writer gets about 2 euros per book. It would take a few hundred books to break even. I think if I had some way to get the book in front of potential buyers I’d consider it. But I’ve got no knack for sales and marketing. I had a big chunk of my book posted on this blog, and offered to email the rest of it to anyone who asked. As far as I can tell, no one ever read the part I posted, and certainly no one asked for me to email the rest.

    How about you? Do you think you could get your book seen by potential buyers? How might you go about it?


    Comment by ktismatics — 18 January 2007 @ 9:58 am

  8. First of all, your book appeals to a market, and it is very important to define this market. Your market might be English speaking intelligent well educated people who are interested in religion, ethics and philosophy. What are they reading, (advertisements) what do they watch? One good point of your market is that they spend money on books. One difficult point is that they might be difficult to reach. One way for you would be speaking engagements at big Universities in Europe to reach students, where they teach humanities. (I learned this by reading what publishers want you to have done to be interesting to them). A radio appearance might work, but it might only sell a few…

    When I think of your book, I think at the chemin des Cathares. I see people climbing up to the castles, finding your book in a bookshop at Rennes les Bains or Carcassone and reading it.

    Bookshop keepers in your own village sell your books when you offer to sign them and tell them you live there. (I have read this…)

    Speaking engagements are the best way (say agents). But I also hear that people sell them through internet.

    Also Amazon sells books to an international audience. But I’m told it is best to try to find a publisher first. When the book does not sell in bookshops, Amazon is a next step.
    Finding the best agent or publisher is done by going to the bookstore and picking up a copy of the book that comes close to your book and looking for the name of the agent that the author gives thanks to. Then google should help to find the adress or website of the agent. I don’t live next to the American bookshop.

    I’m going to search for the site with lists of agents tomorrow…


    Comment by Odile — 22 January 2007 @ 12:07 am

  9. Now for my book. There are two groups that are interested in my book now. One is people who recognize themselves in my book, the other is the parents of the subject of my book. I noticed this because I visit a site in the Netherlands that is a forum that is a bit more open than mensa. I have a few of those waiting for my book to come out, and of course family and friends will buy a few. If I sell it from my blog, I will have to do some selling story (not my best either). I typically don’t have many readers, but many readers come back. Some will want to buy my book. I was thinking of buying yours rather than reading it on your blog once it comes out. (I did read part of it) I think I can sell some to a few writers too.
    If the publisher that didn’t come back to me yet says yes, I would have access to their website and the children’s reading story that I wrote could be featured on their site to attract parents to my book. Once they would read the story and would decide it is what best describes their child, and especially if the child responds well to the story, they will want to know more about it, and maybe they will like to own the book.


    Comment by Odile — 22 January 2007 @ 12:26 am

  10. People are very interested in their children’s learning and success. Hopefully the publisher will say yes and you can get started with your book promotion plan.


    Comment by ktismatics — 23 January 2007 @ 1:08 pm

  11. A week ago tomorrow I mailed out four proposals to agents in the States. They must have arrived already, because I already got my first reply:

    Dear John Doyle,

    Thank you for thinking of us for your book project, but I am afraid we don’t have the kind of enthusiasm necessary to want to pursue it with you. Thus, we are going to pass. We wish you the best of luck with it.

    Yours sincerely,


    Comment by ktismatics — 24 January 2007 @ 4:44 am

  12. At least they didn’t say it was terrible and not worth answering to… It seems they even give you a tip here. You need to find an energetic agent that feels passionate about this subject. There must be one there…

    Have you considered the dutch market? In the Netherlands there are many people who believe, but are attracted to science too or vice versa.

    I want to tell you about the two new buttons that I have on my blog. One makes it easy for visitors to add your blog to their online favourites, one button for all. Another shows me how many blogrolls or how many blogs link to my blog.


    Comment by Odile — 6 February 2007 @ 2:59 pm

  13. I suspect that the agent didn’t even have the necessary enthusiasm to read anything in my proposal.

    Last night I dreamed that an agent sent me a letter saying that he really liked the parts of my novel that I sent and would be pleased to read the rest. Maybe I should let the Genesis book work its way through the agents I’ve submitted it to, and resume my efforts to find an agent for my two novels.

    I visit your blog frequently, so the next time I will look for the buttons you describe.


    Comment by ktismatics — 6 February 2007 @ 3:19 pm

  14. This post used to name names. I just got a comment from one of the named victims of this agency…

    Dear Ktismatics:

    As much as I enjoy seeing this here, I’m wondering if you can remove it. (Or at least remove my name.) It’s a funny post, but I wrote that several years ago on Writers Net about my first novel. Now it shows up on Google, and literary agents who Google me are going to think it’s about my current novel, which it isn’t. It’s a little embarrassing to me and doesn’t look encouraging about the novel I’m currently pitching, which has been getting great feedback. If you could remove it, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks!

    Done. Sorry for adding further annoyance to a process that’s frustrating enough as it is. And if Odile or anyone else ever comes back to this post, I’m 0 for 5 on submitting my Genesis 1 book to agents.


    Comment by ktismatics — 12 March 2007 @ 4:20 am

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