Monday, September 20, 2004

GERARD JONES: GRUMPY OLD MAN

I've been looking for a literary agent for my work and going into Google and searching with relevant keywords, as you do. This popped up Everyone Who's Anyone in Adult Trade Publishing, so I started to take a look. At first glance, it's just a list of Literary Agents and their email addresses (which is amazing enough as it is) but deeper reading of the site reveals some absolutely medieval-style jousting gems. Gerard Jones is actively pitching books en masse to 2,000 agents at a time. He gets back these usually formulaic reponses that "we are not taking on new clients at this time" or "we do not deal with this sort of project", which is all well and good and most writers would take this as a big hint to do some research into their agency before submitting and try somebody more relevant but not this guy. Nope, he REPLIES to their form responses. He's wonderfully acerbic, too. I haven't done enough research on Gerard yet but I get the idea he's no spring chicken. In the UK we have this show called Grumpy Old Men and I absolutely love it! In that sort of vein, there are a number of exchanges between Gerard and these agents. At one point one of them goes... well, I'll find it and publish it, it's better that way. It's in the United States Literary Agents section, Part One here goes:

From Kristine Dahl
@icmtalent.com

Hi, What a pleasant surprise to get your note. I'll take a look at this and get right back to you. thanks, Kris

Dear Kris: Two weeks ago you sent me an e-mail saying you'd get right back to me. You probably think I'm someone else. I'm not. Let's start over. Here's a synopsis and the first chapter of a novel a million people will want to buy and which will win a bunch of prizes for literary excellence. It will be a tricky book to get published, however, partly because everybody's scared of offending Oprah Winfrey but mainly because it's good and agents and editors traffic primarily in schlock these days. Let me know if you want to take a look. Thanks. G.

You're right, I did mistake you for someone else named Gerald. In any case, I apologize for the tardy response especially since I am going to pass. I'm not taking on many new fiction clients right now and this novel just isn't a good fit for my list. Best wishes for finding the right home and thanks for the shot. k

Now that literally had me rolling about in tears, especially as I'd just read this one (I'm not gonna publish it all because it's a LONG corresondence but if you do Ctrl F "Find (on this page)" [Claudia Cross] you'll find it, begins:

Dear Mr. Jones: I would like to begin by complimenting you on a well-written effort. I think that with this manuscript you are off to a good start: you've established your voice and you've shown that you have a sense of humor, both of which are no mean feats...

But even after that, it just continues, page after page of jousting with literary agents. I imagine by now he's getting quite a reputation with these controllers of what is ever published and I'm not sure he should be sticking his neck THAT FAR over the fence. What a star this Gerard Jones is, his site is informative and funny and also sad in truly poignant way. Keep it real, Gerard.

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