Here is another group of Q and A type questions that a writer asked us to respond to. Thanks, Shelly.
Q: I don't understand why the issue (rejections posted online without their permission on blogs, writer sites or forums) is a problem.
A: You cannot publish someone else’s writing without their permission. Everything you write, even letters, belongs to the writer and is copyrighted according to copyright law. The person receiving your letter can only show it to others in its original form as it came to him/her, in other words, in the letter form. This does not give the person receiving the letter permission to publish it without the author’s consent, however.
Q: Why don't you want your correspondence posted?
A: We don’t really care if those who write us post our form rejection letter, although, technically, it is also copyrighted. It is, after all, just a form letter and contains nothing that would be embarrassing to us or its recipient. However, there are times when we do give advice or criticism to writers, and this information should be treated as confidential copyrighted information that is being shared between two business people. Writing of this nature should always have a disclaimer attached to it stating this fact. However, even if correspondence of this type does not contain the attached disclaimer, it should always be treated as confidential and should not be shared or posted. What kind of world would it be if EVERYTHING everyone said or wrote was posted everywhere? Oh, wait a minute…*SMILE*
Q: Have the "harsh responses" increased disproportionately?
A: Yes, they have, and there is an explanation for this. More and more people are writing and there are only so many clients each agent can represent and only so many open slots on each agent’s list. Unfortunately, this means that agents have the unsavory duty of rejecting writers—the more rejection, the more frustration that builds up in the writer community.
Most writers understand that rejection is part of trying to get published and do not take rejection as a personal insult. Some, however, take it personally and lash out at anyone who dares reject their work. Many feel that to get even they must comment on my responses, and some of these comments are very insulting and very nasty. One such writer even posted my advice on his blog and added an insulting remark about me for the world to see. Things like this do nothing to help the situation many writers find themselves in. It only makes it more difficult for all concerned. I’m sure, because of this, that individual will never find an agent. Why? Because he has demonstrated that he would be very difficult to work with, something that’s a must in any relationship. Your first response to rejection should not be lashing out or getting even. That simply isn’t considered professional in any business.
We have eliminated most of these comments by using a simple form rejection letter. However, every once in awhile, even though we know that anything but a canned response will generate a blast of frustration back at us, we give a personal comment. For instance, the weakness overcame me recently when I merely asked a gentleman to please reduce his verbiage so I could understand what he was trying to promote. For this I was told that I was the rudest, most unprofessional nincompoop that ever existed (not the exact wording used, by the way).
Q: Did the number of "harsh responses" coincide with your posting of "bad" query letters?
A: No, our receipt of “harsh” responses has not increased since we posted the “bad” query letter. Most of the time we only receive harsh comments if we offer advice on someone’s query or his/her writing. However, there have been times when we did receive a not-so-nice comment even though we only sent a standard reject. This, however, is a rare occurrence.