Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Rejection Rarely Riles Me...

...but I made an exception in this agent's case. The letter he had his assistant send demonstrated a total disregard for reality, I had to reply it. The book commemorates the 30th anniversary of what arguably is one of the biggest news stories of the last century. Interest in Jonestown and cults has never been higher since the massacre occurred in 1978.

If the agent sent me a run-of-the mill rejection (i.e. too busy, not right for us, not the type of book we represent, not taking on any new clients right now,, etc.) I wouldn't have minded. But this?

Dear Mr. Brailey,
Thank you for letting us have a look at your proposal for THE GHOSTS OF NOVEMBER. Unfortunately, we here at XYZ Literary just didn’t feel there would be space in the market for another book on this topic right now, but we wish you the best of luck with it.
All best,
Xxxxxx Xxxxxx
XYZ Literary Management

I had to respond to this clueless agent and here is what I said:

Ms. Xxxxxx,

I am going to respectfully disagree with XYZ's assessment of my book. There is no other book that describes what happened in Jonestown after the massacre. Interest in this subject is as high as its ever been, evidenced by the hits I am receiving on my blogsite (http://novemberghosts.blogspot,com) and the emails I get on a regular basis from scholars and conspiracy buffs and all kinds of people in between.

I self-published the book in 1998 and did very well marketing the 5000 copies printed on radio talk shows. If I have to do it again, I will. I am committed to the success of my book and will do what I need to to get the revision published.

Thank you for your reply. I am confident Mr. Z. will wish he represented me next year when I hit the speaking trail with other members of the Jonestown Institute's speakers bureau. I usually don't reply to the replies of agents, but you are so very wrong about the market for my book I was compelled to in this case.


Jeff Brailey

I originally sent the following query letter along with my book proposal, which you can find on another page of this blog:

Dear Mr. Zzzzzzzzzz:
November 18, 2008 is the 30th anniversary of the Jonestown Massacre. I was there.
As senior medic of the joint humanitarian task force sent to Guyana to return the remains of the 914 Americans who died there, I was able to observe the grueling and grotesque job performed by the men and women of the force. The Ghosts of November is the only book written by a member of the task force and the only one that describes the nine days we spent in Jonestown.
Originally self-published in 1998 for the 20th anniversary, the revised book is more than 50% new material and has been professionally edited. It has footnotes, photos and a map the first edition lacked. I sold almost 5000 copies of the book in 1998 through radio talk shows and book signings.
If you doubt the continued curiosity and building interest in the Jonestown Massacre, please check out my Ghosts of November blog at

My book proposal follows. I do have two more nonfiction book ideas to pitch to publishers. One is a memoir of my life as a derelict and the other a nonfiction narrative about cults in the 21st century.
Jeff Brailey

What do you think dear blog reader? Did I do the right thing or should I have left the clueless agent alone?

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