OK, people, seriously now. Just when I think blogs like this have finally eradicated the aspiring writer's urge to get "creative" with correspondence...something shows up in the mailbox to prove me wrong. This time, it was an invitation--to a funeral.
My assistant brought in my mail the other day, and handed me an envelope with elaborate calligraphy on it, and a kiss stamp on the flap (as opposed to a KISS stamp, which I suppose would actually be a tongue). It looked like a wedding invitation, but I think I'm finally out of friends who have yet to get married, so I couldn't imagine who it was from. Opening the envelope, I saw that inside was, indeed, a formal invitation, complete with engraving, RSVP card, even the little piece of tissue paper that comes with such things. This was nicer than my wedding invitations!
The invitation read as follows: " [Author's name redacted to protect the regrettable] invites you to attend the funeral for her failed novel [Title likewise]" and was followed by a date/time/place, and a website for more information. Reading the title, I realized that I knew this book...I had seen this book, and indeed, rejected it. But as I recalled, it hadn't come from the author, it had come from an agent, and I'd passed accordingly. So what was this? Was the author asking me to reconsider? Was there really a party? Did their agent come up with this idea?
I was perplexed and annoyed--why was I having to expend all this mental energy on something I'd already dealt with through traditional channels? What was the joke? So I caved--I clicked on the website. This author had designed an entire site (nicely done, I must admit) as a companion to her upcoming "funeral." It included information about the book, the author, and the party. It also pointed out that it had been rejected by sixteen different editors (rejections quoted on the site), and that the author did not intend to write another book--her vision of being a published author was declared dead, and we were invited (yes, she invited all the editors who rejected her) to celebrate.
I get that the author was trying to turn lemons into lemonade, and maybe to create a media event--perhaps if she built up some buzz, her book could get another shot. But oh my best beloveds, listen well. This author failed to understand her audience, and is paying the price for it. She thought, in sending these invitations to editors who'd already rejected her, that she was presenting herself as Tireless Self-Promoter, and thus might cause us to reconsider. But she came off to me as Loose Cannon--not someone I want to work with. And not only was she damaging her own reputation, but she risked tarnishing her agent's, as well. (As it happens, I called the agent and asked, "Um, did you know about this?" Turns out they'd parted company, surprise surprise.)
Look, if you want to take a depressing stack of rejections and have a bonfire party, that's great. Invite your friends, your family, a host of oiled men with palm fronds, whatever you want. But such a party is a personal, emotional event, and should be kept separate from business. To me, it's not cute, it's not funny--it's passive-aggressive. And it ensures that not only won't I reconsider this project, but I'll know better than to work with you in future. But hey, do whatever you want--it's your funeral.