Okay, I rarely blog, but even if I updated more often I doubt I would ever blog much about my slush pile in any specific way (other than how far behind I am on it). That is because while a lot of other agents frequently write about their query stats, and I know a lot of readers enjoy such posts, I personally find it... boring.

There, I've said it: I find reading about other people's slush boring, for the most part. That is absolutely not a criticism of agents who write about their slush or readers who like to read about it--I think these posts provide a valuable resource, and are often both hilarious and well written--but in and of itself it's just not that interesting to me, because I have my own slush pile and live with it every day, I talk about slush with the people in my life, etc. For me, reading posts about slush is like reading a book which draws on insider knowledge of a profession or world few readers have any personal knowledge of (high fashion, forensic investigation, deep sea diving, whatever): if I am one of the few who is familiar with the subject, there has to be something more there to draw my interest. and usually that's either the way the author writes about it, or some new-to-me information about my own area of knowledge.

All of which is a just long lead-in to my making an atypical post about slush, since I have recently had a completely new experience. I'm sure it isn't unique in the history of the submission process or the annals of publishing or anything--but where slush is concerned, it's the first thing to have happened to me in years that I've never seen before.

This past weekend, I received the following email [names removed]:

Dear Diana,

Per your request, please find attached chapters 4-6 of my ms.

Thank you for your interest!



From: Diana Fox [diana@foxliterary.com]

Sent: Monday 11-24-2008 17:35 AM
To: X [address redacted]

Subject: manuscript proposal

Dear X,

Please send three or four sample chapters that I can look over.



Now, you might think this was a perfectly normal exchange... except, I HAD NEVER EMAILED THIS AUTHOR. Or rather, I never sent him the email in question; I checked my records and found that I actually sent him a form rejection on November 18th. I then responded:

Dear X,

I can't understand why you would compose a fake request email from me as you have done below, but I didn't send out any requests on Monday, November 24th. It's also very clear that you have never received a request from me as I would never phrase it as you did, or ask for chapters 4-6 of a manuscript, or open a .doc attachment.

I concluded by asking him never to darken my virtual door again, but the thing that I can't understand is, what would possess an author to do something like that in the first place? The dude made up a FAKE REQUEST EMAIL from me after I rejected him! Did he think I request so many things that I would believe I'd somehow just forgotten I requested his manuscript? It takes a lot to surprise me, but seriously, what was he thinking?

It's not just the dishonesty of his tactics that I found so unpleasant, but I hate incompetence--after all, if he'd done his research and found this blog, he'd have known I always request full manuscripts to save time. Moral of the story: being dishonest is bad, being dishonest AND stupid is worse. (And also, of course, that aspiring authors should never do what this person did... but I can't believe any of my readers would need to be told that!)

Has anyone else either had this happen to them, or heard of it happening?
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From: [identity profile] fryadvocate.livejournal.com

... My only reaction is to laugh because WTF?

From: [identity profile] cathschaffstump.livejournal.com

Your experience is a first for me.

I guess the moral of the story is if you're going to perpetrate a ruse, do so with research upfront, so you aren't easily exposed. :)

Happy holidays,

ext_34809: (Default)

From: [identity profile] strangerface.livejournal.com

There is so much I don't understand about this that I don't even know where to start. Even if you did request partials, why would he send chapters 4-6?!

My head hurts.

From: [identity profile] chris-gerrib.livejournal.com

Those are the GOOD chapters! (Which probably means he started the book too early, but that appears to be the least of this fellow's problems.)

(no subject)

From: [personal profile] archangelbeth - Date: 2008-12-04 08:41 pm (UTC) - Expand

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] wikdsushi.livejournal.com - Date: 2008-12-06 03:32 pm (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] seanan-mcguire.livejournal.com

That is...a really impressive level of crazy. Points for the crazy.

I am awed.

From: [identity profile] bachsoprano.livejournal.com

Wow - that is really bizarre. Really, really bizarre....


(Also, hope all is well with you, strange slush encounters aside!)

From: [identity profile] fashionista-35.livejournal.com

I... wow.

That's just... yeah, wow.

Basically, I got nuthin'.

From: [identity profile] blistermyeye.livejournal.com

Well, at least he followed the rule about including the agent's original letter for reference! Er, except for the part about the agent's original letter being a fake.

Perhaps he thought you didn't keep records and received so many submissions that you'd assume you really had sent the original letter.

How dumb, in any case.

From: [identity profile] irysangel.livejournal.com

Bwahaha! Sorry. That is sad. Hilarious, but sad.

I also like how he/she/it sent chapters 4-6 instead of 1-3. DOUBLE FAIL! Two fails for the price of one!

From: [identity profile] rhienelleth.livejournal.com


It's baffling that this guy was inventive enough to lie and go to all the trouble to invent a fake request, but too lazy to do any of the actual research that would tell him a partial is always the first chapters of a manuscript, not chapter 4-6. Um, even the most rudimentary research into how to send partials would have yielded that information, much less researching what you as an agent usually request.

Epic fail.

From: [identity profile] brian-ohio.livejournal.com

If he does this to every agent... he's bound to sneak one through considering how busy you guys are. Maybe. ;-)

From: [identity profile] marklafon.livejournal.com

It is also remotely possible that the writer was the butt of a rather cruel joke. Someone may have faked your email address and sent him the request. Stupid, cruel and childish but I have known people who would think this was the epitome of wit.

But I think that you are right and it was most likely an effort to slip past your slush shield.

From: [identity profile] dianafox.livejournal.com

I hadn't even thought of that... if so, poor guy! Or maybe someone is doing a psychological experiment on agents to see how we respond and I'm playing right into their hands, you never know.

From: [identity profile] ecmyers.livejournal.com

Just when you think you've seen everything...

From: [identity profile] susubelle.livejournal.com

As Ron White says, "You can't fix stupid."
gwynnega: (Default)

From: [personal profile] gwynnega

Wow. I am boggling. Sending chapters 4-6 adds an extra dollop of stupid...

From: [identity profile] dianafox.livejournal.com

The more I think about it, the stupider the whole thing gets. (Also, hi!)

From: [identity profile] jmeadows.livejournal.com

I'm laughing. Not too hard, because there is a cat on my lap and I would hate to disturb her, but...I am laughing.

Really, there's only so much you can do about these things. "Dear Author: NO."

And then post about it on the internet.

I think you've got it covered. ;)

This is the first I've heard of it happening. Mostly I just get the stupid annoying things, like people not keeping records and sending me their query three times in two days, or writing back to insist I can't tell if their book is any good by the query letter. Whatevs.

That was a mighty nice and restrained letter you sent back.

From: [identity profile] dianafox.livejournal.com

That was a mighty nice and restrained letter you sent back.

I am much less restrained in private.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] jmeadows.livejournal.com - Date: 2008-12-04 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] domynoe.livejournal.com

The closest I can come is a submission from when we first opened. The author sent something like a half dozen chapters from somewhere in the middle of her book in .doc format. I emailed a rejection based on not following our guidelines. Three months later, she sent me revised chapters...from where her first submission left off.

Um, HUH?

Sent another rejection, and have been expecting another batch of chapters since. Haven't shown up yet, but that doesn't mean they won't....

From: [identity profile] dianafox.livejournal.com

Haven't shown up yet, but that doesn't mean they won't....

Something to live for...

From: [identity profile] thunderemerald.livejournal.com

Oh goodness. I work for an agent, and a couple of weeks ago something similar happened: a full ms landed on my desk, neatly packaged in a FedEx box, with a quick note to my boss saying, "As requested, here is my book. Enjoy!" Neither my boss nor I had ever spoken to this guy before.

I emailed him to ask if maybe he'd crossed his lines somewhere (because, you know, FedExing something costs money and he ought to know if he made a mistake), but it turned out he was just another slush author. Took quite a while to get him to admit it though.

But fabricating an email exchange? That's something new. What a crazy.

From: [identity profile] dianafox.livejournal.com

Yeah, I've totally seen the "as requested, here is my book" ploy tried before too--I thought I had seen (or at least heard about) pretty much everything before, but the fake request was a new twist. I guess the fact that there are still new crazy things I haven't come across yet keeps life interesting, though.

From: [identity profile] green-knight.livejournal.com

Well, you have to give him full points for inventiveness...

The mind, she boggles. I have to admit that I feel uneasy about agents who solely use the query as a sorting tool, because one person's fantastic query is another person's meh, even if both end up liking the book. The moment an agent allows several pages of writing, however, I'm cool with being rejected - I do not *like* it (who does) - but it's the same sort of decision I make while browsing in bookstores - do I like the sound of the project as a whole (back/query blurb), do I like the writing. Hard to complain about that, really.

From: [identity profile] jennifer-brozek.livejournal.com

There must be something in the water. Last night I posted a "how not to withdraw your story from a publication" entry based on an email that Amanda Pillar and I received after requesting an update on story edits for a story accepted to our anthology Grants Pass.

The story withdrawal included this line: "I especially don't feel comfortable attaching my name or ideas to your butchered excuse for prose."

Well. It is his right to withdraw his story if he doesn't want to do the edits but I will remember his name for the future.

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] dbara.livejournal.com - Date: 2008-12-08 06:13 am (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] snow-white904.livejournal.com

Classic. I think this is an agent blog post that shall echo through the ages.


From: [identity profile] mmegaera.livejournal.com

I can fully understand the level of frustration that would lead someone to do something like this, but I'd be even more frustrated knowing I'd shot myself in the foot by doing it.

From: [identity profile] nadia-lee.livejournal.com

I've heard of people doing this kind of stuff, but wow. I'm not sure why they think they can get away with it. *shaking head*

From: [identity profile] foresthouse.livejournal.com

(here via [livejournal.com profile] cleolinda's links)

OK, I have to admit I laughed. Laughed at the sheer boldness of people who apparently think lying is the way to go when submitting work. I have not heard of that particular thing before, but it sure wouldn't surprise me to know it has happened to others. Wow.

I'm glad you realized it was fake and responded as you did.

From: [personal profile] octette

HHHAHAHAHA that is awesome.

ps, i wish you'd picked up your phone tonight b/c shira and i were at yaffa for two hours and you could have been too! <3
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