The Mail I Get: Rejection Edition

How to never sell your book…

We received a submission at Brash Books, the small publishing company I co-founded six years ago with Joel Goldman. After reading the submission, we decided to pass. This is the entirety of the rejection letter we wrote to the author:

Thank you for thinking of Brash for XYZ. Unfortunately, it’s not a fit for us. We wish you the very best finding the right home for the book.

His reply:

Keep printing The same redundant shit Arrogant ass, just remember the title of this book, u will see it on the best sellers list asshole.

And I’m sure he wonders why he hasn’t sold a book yet. (BTW, his submission was awful). So I decided to respond:

I sincerely doubt it… and I say that as a novelist who has actually been at the top of the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller lists multiple times. To be a successful author, you not only need to write well, and tell a good story… you also need to have some decent people skills. If I lashed out and called every publisher who politely rejected my work an arrogant asshole, I wouldn’t have achieved my success. How do I know? Because I ultimately ended being published by two of the publishers who’d rejected my previous work. You are clearly the biggest obstacle to your success. You might want to rethink your strategy.

He responded a short time later. 

 
This book has a very complex plot and vivid characterization that you couldn’t have possibly ascertain in the brief time you review my story. is a very complex plot, and profound characterization. This story is very unique, and has major shocking twists at the end! A PHD from Western Kentucky, who was a professor for 38 years is editing it, and compared it to Silence of the Lambs. It is very, very unique story, and intertwines orwellian themes, which compare to today’s political and social upheaval. I DO APOLOGIZE FOR LASHING OUT, NOT PROFESSIONAL AT ALL, sorry just have my heart and soul in this book, and you rejected it in record time, this is not my first rodeo, again I do apologize!

Still a little crazy, but at least he apologized. I guess that’s progress.

The Mail I Get: For the Weatherman Edition

There is are a lot of Lee Goldbergs out there. One of them is a popular weatherman at WABC in New York…and I get a lot of emails meant for him. I always reply and politely tell them they have the wrong Lee Goldberg (which you’d think would be obvious from the face on my website). By the same token, Lee the Weatherman also gets a lot of emails about my books. We met a few years ago and he invited me on his show. It was a lot of fun.

Here is just a tiny sampling of the mail I get for him:

Dear Lee,

Please be advised that Clason Point in the Bronx is pronounced CLAW-son and not CLAY-son.

And another:

Hi Lee it was nice you mentioned the Moon and Jupiter tonight but Saturn was there too.

If its clear tomorrow in fact you might want to mention in your forecast that the crescent Moon, Saturn and Jupiter are gathered even closer together.

And another:

What type of meter is on the wall in your home above the computer monitor?
While watching you broadcast from your home (I assume it is your home) there is a device with many numbers on it in red.
Is that something I can purchase?
Thanks

And another:

Thank you for thinking of Toms River Ocean County NJ. Other channels don’t talk about Toms River. You are the only one who speaks about Ocean County NJ. Thank you, thank you, thank you. BTW, I’m from Toms River.

And another:

Hi Lee- it’s a great idea to tell your viewers the reason for the nightly colors. However, please do it at 5 and 6 pm for the many viewers who are fast asleep at 11:20pm especially kids and my Nursing Home residents. Thanks – please reply if you get this request.

And another:

Hello, Lee!
Could I be of any assistance in reporting weather conditions/readings for the northeast Bronx – Pelham Bay Park/City Island?i.e.Rain, snow, flooding, temperature, barometric pressure, etc.
Basically.. just another set of eyes for this outer area of New York City.

And another:

I worked in landscaping for 43 years. Outside work 6 days a week, plus drove an oil delivery truck in the winter. Always out in the weather. In the last 3 years the wind, especially out of the northwest has been relentless! The only calm is early AM and in summer Bermuda high when dew points and humidity are raging. I’m on LI. so the proximity to ocean and sound and peconic bay, but REALLY…… what’s going on?

When I responded to this guy, and told him he had the wrong Lee Goldberg, he actually replied:

Sorry. I thought that was a little too easy.

The Mail I Get: Recommend Me Edition

Two weeks ago, the same day that my new novel BONE CANYON came out, a complete stranger sent me an email on Facebook asking me to recommend him to my agent:

Hi Lee: Need to ask a question. Do you have an agent, order you publish yourself? If you have an agent, can you refer me to him/her. I have completed a novel, 60,000 words. If I send a cold-call query to an agent, I get a polite response. If I send a query to an agent with a recommendation, I get feedback. So far, feedback has said my manuscript is “well written.” But that doesn’t mean they will represent it. Asking for your input and a recommendation to your agent. Thank you, Ben

I didn’t reply…because I was very busy promoting my book and I really didn’t want to deal with his request. Two days later, I got another note.

I sent you the above message. Would love to get a response.

I didn’t reply to that one, either. The next day, I got an email through my website:

I left you a message on your Facebook page but never heard back from you. Can you read it and respond?”

This time I responded. I said: “I am represented by an agent and no, I will not recommend you to her. What an outrageous and inappropriate request to make of a complete stranger. Why would I do that? I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. And no, I don’t want to read your book. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject.”

He wrote back on Facebook:

You’re an asshole.

Then he followed up with an email saying:

What an asshole you are. I won’t expand because I don’t want to hear your pompous diatribe. So I’ll leave it at that.

I responded:

From screenwriter Josh Olson who, in his great 2009 piece in The Village Voice, said it best when dealing with a person like you:

“At this point, you should walk away, firm in your conviction that I’m a dick. But if you’re interested in growing as a human being and recognizing that it is, in fact, you who are the dick in this situation, please read on. Yes. That’s right. I called you a dick. Because you created this situation. You put me in this spot where my only option is to acquiesce to your demands or be the bad guy. That, my friend, is the very definition of a dick move.”

Here’s the rest of his wonderful essay on guys like you:https://www.villagevoice.com/…/i-will-not-read-your…/

Your emails to me make it very clear why you’ve had no success finding an agent or getting published. You might want to rethink your approach going forward. Good luck!

Ben responded immediately:

You are still an asshole.

A bad guy.

A dick.

A jerk.

I am very secure in my writing. Based on past experiences, I am very secure calling you the above names. You made your position know. I get it. But you are pretty insecure otherwise it seems. Now asshole just walk away. Take a frickin hike.

Regards,

Me

Five minutes later, he added:

Response 2

From now on, just send me or people like me a one or two sentence response saying you are in no position to read a manuscript and offer recommednations. That’s all you need to do. But you make an asshole case out of it trying to shame people. It shows you are pretty insecure or at least very petty. You need to rethink your approach to dealing with well-intended writers.

Now I’d had enough. Here’s what I wrote:

Wow, are you full of yourself. Let’s recap, Ben. You sent a note on Facebook to an author you don’t know (or, apparently, don’t know anything about). You began by asking this question:


” Do you have an agent, order you publish yourself? ” 

If you’d done even the most basic research about me, you’d know the answer to that question, that I am a #1 New York Times bestselling author who has been published by Penguin Putnam, St. Martin’s Press, Random House, etc. But that was too much work for you. And if you’d ever opened one of my books, which I’m sure you haven’t, not only would you know if I have an agent or not, you’d also know their names, since I thank them in my acknowledgments. So, strike #1 for laziness, poor research and a complete lack of professionalism. (Add poor-proofreading: “order” instead of “or do” in your dashed-off, “cold call” email)


You went on to ask: “If you have an agent, can you refer me to him/her.”

You are now asking a complete stranger to make a personal recommendation, leveraging their hard-earned reputation and hard-won personal relationships, on your behalf… a huge ask, even for someone who actually knows me or even, at the minimum, my work.  But you don’t acknowledge that. You think it’s nothing. So, strike #2 for ignorance and rudeness. (Add poor proofreading: you forgot to add a question mark to the end of your question, which again underscores the unprofessional, dashed-off nature of your “cold call”).


You go on to say: “If I send a cold-call query to an agent, I get a polite response. If I send a query to an agent with a recommendation, I get feedback. “


So, you’re saying  I should do this for someone I don’t know because my relationship with the agent will help get you feedback. In other words, you’ll get more attention from the agent because she feels a responsibility to me, the person who recommended you. 


And you’re making that request with no acknowledgment whatsoever of the significance of what you are asking. And you don’t even ask politely. So, strike #3…for presumptuousness, ignorance and rudeness.


You go on to say: “Asking for your input and a recommendation to your agent.”

Now you are asking an author you don’t know, or even know anything about, to not only recommend you to his agent (twice, I might add), but now you also want him to give you feedback…another big ask. So, strike #4 for nagging, ignorance and rudeness. 

And there wasn’t a single “please” in your entire cold-call email, a big strike #4, for having no common courtesy.  

But you didn’t stop there. When I didn’t answer you immediately, because really, what could possibly be more important in my life than responding to a complete stranger, you asked me two days later to respond. When I didn’t, you then prodded me again, a day later, through my website:

“I left you a message on your Facebook page but never heard back from you. Can you read it and respond? Thank you”

You not only hit up a complete stranger for a big favor, you now had the chutzpah to insist on an immediate response… and to complain when you didn’t get one (and, once again, the word “please” seems to be missing entirely from your vocabulary…because the whole world owes you their time and attention). 


I’m sure you have no idea how rude and inappropriate that is, but we’ll set that aside. This may come as a shock, but I have a few other things going on in my life (for example, if you’d done any research on me, you’d know I had a new book come out last week and have been busy doing scores of interviews every day). I have no obligation to you… certainly not to drop everything to engage with you. 


But no, in your mind, there is nothing more important, more time-critical, than you and your needs…even to someone you don’t know and know nothing about.


And when I did respond, (“I am represented by an agent and no, I will not recommend you to her. What an outrageous and inappropriate request to make of a complete stranger. Why would I do that? I don’t know you and I don’t know your work. And no, I don’t want to read your book. Here’s a blog post I wrote on the subject…), your reply was:


“You’re an asshole.”


Amazing. And you have the gall to try to school me on how to behave? Your arrogance and cluelessness are astounding. You aren’t a “well-intended writer,” but you’re certainly an ill-prepared, impolite, and self-defeating one. You asked me for feedback. Well, now I’ll give some to you. 


The proper response from you to my reply would have been an apology, an acknowledgement that what you were asking was out of line and ill-considered, and that you now realize that it was a foolish way to approach an author for advice…especially one you don’t know…and that now you know no better. That you don’t blame me for being irritated, you would be, too. 


That might have led to something productive. Instead, you doubled down on ignorance and arrogance…and responded with a crude, childish insult that proved me right: You aren’t someone who deserves my help…or *any* successful author’s help. 


No, Ben, I am not an asshole. What I am is a successful author, screenwriter, TV producer and publisher who is very busy…and doesn’t have much free time. Even so, over the last thirty years, I’ve taught and mentored writers across the United States and all over the world…in classrooms, in seminars, at conferences, and on-the-job. The difference between those writers and you is that they’re smarter, more professional, more polite, and a lot less full of themselves.


You’ve made many dumb, cringe-worthy mistakes in your interaction with me…and instead of responding now by telling me that I’m an ugly, smelly, talentless, creepy, petty, vindictive, Godless asshole, shithead, bastard, prick and overall terrible person, don’t respond to me at all. Instead, think of this as a learning experience and rethink your deeply flawed strategy of “cold calling” authors you don’t know (or know anything about) for help. You need a new approach….because your current one sucks…and works against you. 

Lee

His reply was entirely predictable:

You really took all that time to write this. Wow I must have really got on your nerves. You are sick. You need help. Ask your therapist if this is logical. 
As I said a simple two sentence reply at the beginning would have sufficed. 
I’m not even going to read this
I’m just going to delete it
Good night

I don’t think Ben, with his attitude, is going to have much luck finding an agent or getting his book published.

The time I met George Clooney

Thinking about Sean Connery got me thinking about the Bahamas… which got me thinking about the time I met George Clooney in Nassau.


My wife Valerie and I had just finished spending a week or so vacationing in Nassau and were the only passengers in a rickety van to the airport that stopped at several hotels along the way. At the last hotel stop, Clooney, Richard Kind and some other guys climbed aboard. Clooney was wearing a big sun hat and was very gregarious. I believe he was on SISTERS at the time. I introduced myself and told him how much I enjoyed his co-starring role in a busted pilot that my friend, and mentor, Michael Gleason wrote and produced (a series I would have worked on if it had been picked up). Clooney said he loved working with Michael and we all got into a nice conversation, first about the pilot, then into other things that had nothing to do with the business, like what we’d seen and done in Nassau, etc.


Suddenly there was a loud bang, the van lurched and veered, and the female driver pulled over to the side of the road. A tire on the van had blown out…it was shredded… and she had no spare… and wasn’t able to, or was having difficulty, reaching her dispatcher. I think we were stuck there for 45 minutes or an hour… I don’t recall. We all knew were all going to miss our flights.


None of us were upset about it, these things happen, but with each passing minute, she got more and more freaked out, eventually breaking into tears of frustration. Which was odd, because none of us was blaming her or expressing any anger. So Clooney gave her a hug, reassured her that everything was fine, nobody was mad at her, and insisted that she take his hat. Which she did, with a great, big smile on her face, and she stopped crying. I was immediately wowed by what a nice guy he was.


A few years later, when Clooney was a big star on E.R., Valerie and I ran into him again at a restaurant in the valley. He was at the next table with Miquel Ferrer. I said hello to Clooney and reminded him that we met in the Bahamas on a van to the airport. He vividly remembered the experience, introduced us to Ferrer, explained to us how they were related to one another, and then proceeded to tell the whole van story to him. We chatted for a little while and then went back to our meals. I was amazed and pleased that fame hadn’t changed him. He was still a nice, easy-going guy. I hope that’s still true.

The Time I Met Sean Connery

I’m a huge James Bond fan. I have all the Bond posters. I’ve interviewed just about everyone who wrote a Bond film between 1962 and 1987, the producers, a few of the directors, and every actor who’d played Bond up to that point…except Sean Connery. But I did encounter him once, in the early 1980s.

I went to the Plitt, a movie theatre that once existed in Century City, to see an early show of ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA. I was getting popcorn when I realized the man standing next to me was Sean Connery. I was speechless. The first thing that struck me was, holy shit, that’s Sean Connery. The second thing that struck me was that he looked so, well, ordinary. He was wearing one of those sweat suits with the stripe down the sleeves and pant legs. My grandfather had one like it. And because he appeared so ordinary, I decided not to bother him by saying anything, to treat him as I would anybody else. I gave him a polite smile, he smiled at me in return, and I took my popcorn & Coke and went into the theater.


And, as it turned out, he and his wife sat right behind me. For a while, I was frozen. OH MY GOD. SEAN CONNERY IS SITTING RIGHT BEHIND ME. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to do with my head or my body.


The movie started… and his wife wouldn’t stop talking. It really began to get on my nerves. I stopped thinking about SEAN CONNERY. I started thinking about that woman who was ruining the movie for me. I was about to turn around and ask her, Mrs. Sean Freaking Connery, to please lower her voice when Sean Connery turned to her and said:


“Would you please shut up? I can listen to you any time. I came here to listen to Jimmy Woods.”

It was an epiiphany for me. Sean Connery looked like an ordinary guy because he was… he just happened to be one who made his living as an actor rather than, say, a contractor or mechanic. And from that moment on, I was never intimidated or uncomfortable around a celebrity again, which has been a big benefit in my career.

He will always be, at least for me, the one and only true James Bond.

Mission Accomplished: Hardman is Back

I can’t believe this day has finally come — all 12 of Ralph Dennis’ HARDMAN novels are back in print in new ebook and paperback editions (and in audio for the first 4 titles) If I’d known how much time it would take, and how much money it would cost, I’m not sure that I would have embarked on the quest.
 
But I am so glad that I did. Not just because the books are back in print, but for the journey itself. If not for Hardman, I never would have launched Brash Books five years ago with my good friend Joel Goldman (with the invaluable day-to-day guidance of Denise M. Fields), and I never would have experienced the honor & joy of publishiing amazing new novels by Phillip Thompson, Leo W. Banks, Robert E. Dunn Phoef Sutton, Robin Burcell, Mark Rogers, Craig Faustus Buck, Michael Genelin, Warren Ripley, Gerald Duff, Jack Bunker, and Patrick E. McLean…as well as bringing back-into-print 80 other crime novels by some of the most talented and acclaimed authors in the business.
 
It’s a big day for me, but I’m just getting started. There are more of Ralph’s novels coming soon…and a lot more reprints and never-before-published new books representing “the best crime novels in existence.” It a brash claim, and one I hope to keep making for a long time to come.
 
 

LOST HILLS is coming!

I’m so excited about this! Yesterday KILLER THRILLER launched and today my novel LOST HILLS, the first in a new series, is now available for preorder on Amazon.
 
Here are just some of the pre-release blurbs:
 
Lost Hills is what you get when you polish the police procedural to a shine: a gripping premise, a great twist, fresh spins and knowing winks to the genre conventions, and all the smart, snappy ease of an expert at work.” Tana French, New York Times bestselling author of the Edgar, Anthony, Barry and Macavity award-winning Into The Woods and a winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.
 
Lost Hills is a tense, pacy read from one of America’s greatest crime and thriller writers. We have a sense of real characters doing real police work, not snatching answers out of the air.” — Garry Disher, the Ned Kelly Award-winning, international bestselling author of the Inspector Challis series
 
“Thrills and chills! Lost Hills is the perfect combination of action and suspense, not to mention Eve Ronin is one of the best new female characters in ages. You will race through the pages!” — Lisa Gardner, New York Times bestselling author
 
Lost Hills is a top-notch procedural that shines like a true gem.” —Craig Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of the Walt Longmire mysteries, the basis of Netflix’s Longmire
 
“A winner. Packed with procedure, forensics, vivid descriptions, and the right amount of humor. Fervent fans of Connelly and Crais, this is your next read.” —Kendra Elliot, Wall Street Journal bestselling author of A Merciful Secret
 
“Brilliant! Eve Ronin rocks! With a baffling and brutal case, tight plotting, and a fascinating look at police procedure, Lost Hills is a stunning start to a new detective series. A must-read for crime fiction fans. –-Melinda Leigh, Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon Charts Bestselling author
 
 

Lee Discounted

To celebrate the upcoming release of KILLER THRILLER on 2/12, Amazon Publishing has dramatically slashed the prices on everything I’ve ever written for them. Here’s the rundown…

THE BIG DISCOUNTS:

The ebook edition of TRUE FICTION is only $1.99 and the print editions are 50% off.

“Thriller fiction at its absolute finest—and it could happen for real. But not to me, I hope.” —Lee Child

“This may be the most fun you’ll ever have reading a thriller. It’s a breathtaking rush of suspense, intrigue, and laughter that only Lee Goldberg could pull off. I loved it.” —Janet Evanovich

King City by Lee Goldberg book coverThe ebook edition of KING CITY is only 99 cents…and the print edition is 20% off.

“I could tell you that Lee Goldberg’s King City is one of the best reads of the year or that Lee is one of my favorite writers for so many reasons—plotting, character, or his incredible sense of humor—but that might ruin the surprise of reading King City for yourself. Suffice to say that Goldberg is one infinitely readable master of crime fiction, and King Cityis Lee at his best.” —Craig Johnson

The seven volumes of THE DEAD MAN series, each one containing three action/adventure/horror novellas, are only 99 cents each…and the print editions are 25% off. You can find the entire series here.

“Buckle up! THE DEAD MAN starts at full-speed and never lets up. This is big-ticket horror with characters you care about who are driven to the very edge. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry

The Dead Man Series

 

The Thrilling Big Thrill Interview

The Big Thrill, the magazine of the International Thriller Writers, has published a detailed interview with me about KILLER THRILLER, how I write, the traits I share with my characters, and how many goats I sacrifice for each book. You can find it here. In the meantime, here’s an excerpt:

Killer Thriller by Lee GoldbergThe character of “Ian Ludlow” is based on your first pen name. If you were writing your own story, would it read like these novels?

Not at all. My life isn’t as exciting as his…

I lead a very normal, domestic home life. I’m your average husband and father…I walk the dog (and pick up poop), I go shopping at Costco, I grill a lot of meat, I buy clothes at the outlet mall, I embarrass my daughter, I exasperate my wife—nothing very glamorous or exciting. And I love every minute of it. The only difference between me and a million other dads out there is that I get paid to make stuff up.

What Ian and I share in common is our physical build, the way we dress, and what we do for a living. And, like him, I’m creeped out by how much of the stuff that I make up to entertain people is coming true.