“Satirical humor books have built success on very serious topics — Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson (mental illness), Shi*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (awkward relations) and Calypso by David Sedaris (alcoholism, suicide) — but no one has yet written anything funny about the arduous process of trying to snag a literary agent.
Rejections from a Literary Agent: Discouraging Writers, One Bad Query at a Time includes the fictional Ribbons Literary Agency website, twenty-three invented query letters, sample pages from hopeful authors and blunt responses from senior agent Marcie Ribbons.
Responding to queries for multiple genres and occasional bad querying etiquette, Ms. Ribbons shares her editorial wisdom with the impatience of a Judge Judy. Wounded aspirants sometimes write back after rejection and a story arc plays out.”
G. Randy Kasten is a former child actor, turned attorney. He’s also a wordsmith in multiple ways, writing fiction, non-fiction, songs, and plays. A long-time resident of the East Bay near San Francisco, Kasten relocated a few years ago to Northwestern Washington. For more, visit his website.
As the book’s description explains, this book is made up of a series of three things repeated over and over. First an author’s query to a fictional literary agency, then a sample of the book the author has written (or maybe is proposing to finish writing), and last the literary agent’s rejection of the proposal. Once I thought the agency was going to agree to represent the author, forgetting the first word in the book’s title is “Rejections” so … spoiler alert … that can’t happen.
My feelings about this book are conflicted in some ways. The author says he’s received a lot of rejections from agents over the years and, possibly needless to say, as far as I can tell no agent was responsible for the publishing of this book. An agent might be able to see the humor here. An author, published or not, or anyone who has some experience with or even just basic knowledge about the publishing business and the struggles an author goes through to get published the traditional way will definitely be chuckling as they read this. A typical reader might get the humor, even if it didn’t speak to them on the same level as it would to a wannabe author. But they might not.
As someone who claims not to be a writer, but who does write a lot of reviews for a book review blog, I found myself sympathizing with what is in essence the antagonist in this book, the agent. That was a strange feeling since my feelings about agents in the publishing process are mixed. But having rules for submission to be considered for a potential review myself, when the agent rejected a submission because the author didn’t follow the submission instructions it was all I could do to resist yelling “YOU GO GIRL” at the top of my lungs.
I also found myself cringing at typos and grammatical issues that I’d normally have flagged as issues, then realizing that, for example, when the fictional author refers to a small glass container as a vile it was an intentional mistake, which becomes apparent when the agent mentions it in her rejection. That I had a vial reaction (sorry, couldn’t resist) was maybe even what that author (the actual, non-fictional one) wanted.
If you’re looking for a light, humorous read and the description of this book draws you in, you’re probably the perfect reader for it. It’s a fun read for those who fit the target audience.
Lots of typos and grammatical issues, but as mentioned in the appraisal, the vast majority of them clearly are or easily could be on purpose.
Rating: **** Four Stars
Reviewed by: BigAl
Approximate word count: 60-65,000 words