Awkward Elevator Moments: Literary Agent Edition

It’s an especially auspicious start to your day at your office job when you run into a literary agent who rejected you on the elevator.

When introduced, hope he does not recognize your name, smile, and say simply, “It’s nice to meet you.” Do not say, “Why didn’t you give my novel a chance?” or “What’s wrong with me?” or “You made me cry.”

If you are lucky, the literary agent who rejected you won’t care who you are one way or the other. He will smile and nod and get off on the floor he’s visiting (which also happens to be your floor) without further conversation.

If you are not lucky, the literary agent who rejected you will remember your name, even though he rejected you at least two years ago. He will say, “Oh, yes. We corresponded.” And that verb, seeming so veiled and personal at the same time, will shoot straight to your heart. You will remember that the correspondence in question was only you sending him pages because his client recommended you do so, and him having his assistant send a “Dear Writer” form letter back. Technically, you would not call this correspondence, but it’s better not to argue with a literary agent who rejected you, especially in person, on an elevator, first thing in the morning. All you can do is nod. There is nothing more to say, really.

Expect many an awkward moment to follow. If you are lucky, the elevator will reach your floor safely. Be pleased when the doors do open. If you are not lucky, you could be trapped in an elevator with a literary agent who rejected you, a story that could not end happily, no matter who writes it.

When the elevator ride is over, the literary agent who rejected you will step off the elevator with a wave. Keep it together. Do not run after the agent. Do not ask for another chance. Feel free to walk to your desk, wondering how your life might have turned out if the so-called correspondence ended some other way. It is okay to breathe now. There is a good chance you will not run into another literary agent who rejected you for at least the rest of the day.

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Have you had an awkward moment with a literary agent lately? Do share…


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