I say this because we have been receiving a number of rejection letters from literary agents. These have come from agents of all size and stature - from uber agents and their minions; from small boutique agents specialising in that personal touch; from whey-faced interns fresh out of Oxbridge face down in a slush pile in a darkened basement. All of them as seemingly disconnected from the end-user as I was all those years ago as a dead-eyed processing clerk.
At least, that's how it feels. As part of our covering letter we mention that Karin has second-stage breast cancer. This seems a relevant fact to disclose, given that the novel itself is about terminal cancer. We also mention it because, in a somewhat ghoulish way, it makes the novel a more commercial proposition. Which makes us feel very grubby.
But here's the thing. The agents pen their daily pile of rejection letters or, more accurately, they copy and paste their normal fluff, which they've decided meets the right tone of supportive and realistic. How many of them thought, in this instance, it might be nice to add a small line of humanity? Maybe “I'm so sorry to hear of your situation...” or “I wish Karin all the best for the future.” Not a one. Not a fucking one.