I received a very brief note from Jennie Dunham of Dunham Literary, Inc. telling me that she is not going to represent me with my memoir manuscript. She characterized my book as “too quiet” for her. And, thus ended 11 weeks of waiting for a response that was promised happen in about six to eight weeks. She advertised on her web site that she would make exclusive submissions a priority, so I made my submission exclusive. Now, I wonder how long it would have taken if mine had not been exclusive – 6 months, a year, whatever?
I find that Jennie Dunham’s behavior was rude and self-serving. It’s as though she is only in it for how much money she can make from trying to sell a book rather than furthering the career of a writer and getting an important book out to the public. Like my friend Maree said: agents – the soul of the gnats!
I played by all of her rules, not even bugging her when she took way longer than her promised response time, and all I got back was a few lines in a letter. After all, her website also says she will read, but not critique – that's not her job, not what she does. And I’m afraid this is how I’ll have to play it with the rest of the agents I send my manuscript to.
But I’ll not let this stop me. I already have an offer from friends to contact an agent for me, and I have a list of a few others. The question now is should I submit to one at a time or to several. Perhaps I’ll send to two or three. It will still take time no matter what – exclusive or not.
Right now I haven’t let myself feel the disappointment. But I did send out an email to some folks I knew were interested, and I sure got an outpouring of don’t give up advice.
Jack Grapes, one of my writing gurus, gave me the best advice of all. While the pot is boiling – i.e., while I’m sending the manuscript out – keep busy on other writing projects – even if it’s only journaling. Well, I’m doing that and more – writing regularly on my blog and writing a poem once in a while. I think he’s absolutely right. Another person said the “quiet” bit could be a laughable topic while I’m on the talk show circuit!!!
So, instead of going into a deep funk I need to get a query letter ready to ship out again and again. Whether my manuscript is “quiet” or not, I think I have something that will resonate with a lot of people. My book needs to be out there, and I’m determined that it will be.