Last night, got back from NYC around 7pm, ate dinner and then read 107 queries — 65 letter ones and 43 unsolicited packages (including one that said it was solicited, but which I’m not counting since they “called my office” and our assistant would not have told them to send more than a query). I actually got a couple which are going in my keeper file for letters that exemplify to me how not to encourage my attention — well, the good kind anyway.
One of them I actually considered somewhat, um…full of attitude. Yeah, that’s a good way to describe it with such lovely thoughts as: “…I’m hoping my writing skills will outweigh your predilection to convention.” I could not help but be insulted by the implication. Especially since it made it obvious to me that he had no idea of the makeup of my client list. Anne Bishop conventional? Elizabeth Bear? I don’t think so. Linda Castillo? (The romantic suspense novel she just turned in brushes up against the snuff film industry.) Sure, I’ve sold a few traditional Regencies and a couple of mysteries that tend towards the classicist side of the genre, but still. I have a pretty variegated list and some eclectic taste here and there, imo. It ended with: “And please excuse the absence of a SASE, but I’ve never understood the wisdom in spending $.37 to receive a form rejection letter.” I don’t get many of these, so I guess they really stand out when they appear. *wry look*
The other was one of those woefully uninformed people that make me want to run to a tall mountain and somehow make my voice heard by writers throughout the world as I shout: “Money flows towards the writer!” It said: “I’m not too sure how the publishing process works, so feel free to take advantage of me the best you can…” Yes, it really said that. And more. I was dismayed. I get *far* too many of these. Or letters of similar nature. Or the ones where people relate their horror story of how a small publisher took advantage of them, or how much they spent on one of those evil agents who are not in the game to help writers but to make a lot of fast money. *sigh*
But here’s the one that left me the most, um, off-balance. A query from some kid (well, not a kid anymore) that my brother used to be friends with back when we were younger. My clearest and most vivid memory of the overweight, cruel, vindictive child is when we were at family camp retreat and he pushed me down on the playground and I was so badly hurt that I could not go swimming that day because of it. Add to that that my brother was ten times meaner to me when this person was around… I was just stunned to receive it somehow. Peculiar…
These few examples certainly do not take the place of that bit on queries that Tempest asked for posting to her site. I’m still working on that. And there were certainly many, many queries that were decently done (if not appropriate material for me). And there were a couple that were really, really, really *good* queries, though even in those cases I may not ask for pages to review unless I think I can get on board with the story. Passion for the work is part of my formula every time. So, I’m using these to try and draw up a list – though I doubt it will end up being as complete as it should be. And I never know how to account for those things that you just ask for on gut instinct – though I can tell how it feels when that occurs.
Well….this morning, I’ve been working my way through the backlog of emails, tracking payments, googling to see if one of my clients was published outside the U.S. without their permission, logging in requested materials, bringing my share of the accounting up to date (and paying bills)…and desperately attempting to remember those days of old (which really did not exist) when I spent an afternoon reading manuscripts and eating bon-bons. Heh. Anyway, speaking of eating….must eat lunch and plan dinner before I jump into other correspondence and editorial comments and so forth….
“”…I’m hoping my writing skills will outweigh your predilection to convention.””
OK. Now I’m insulted.
Is this person from Mars, on crack, or just as dumb as a sack full of wet mice?
Maybe they meant conventions? I mean, we all like to predilect a bit at conventions…
BTW, sorry for dumping stuff in your mailbox just when you got back… will hold off on the other file until you’ve had a chance to sort through things some more. But it was a case of ‘take it from me before I fiddle even more.’ *sheepish grin*
No problem. I’ll just get it in the queue. Had a nice lunch with yesterday…
Yeah, she sent me a slightly panicked e-mail mid-morning asking what your cell number was so she could tell you where to meet her… but I didn’t get it until mid-afternoon. Did she tell you about the diet coke and Krispy Kreme dilemma? *evil grin*
I predilict at will. (Or possibly just have a prediliction for Will) Also, convention whenever I can afford it.
(Whee! Jenn said I was unconventional!) (Odd thing is, I think of myself as a refugee from the New Wave most of the time, which is pretty durned conventional these days.)
What amazes me is that somebody wouldn’t see how that would turn you off. Why not just stick a signpost on your head that says “clueless, arrogant jerk who’ll be a pain in the neck to work with and won’t take editorial suggestions well?”
There are people in this world who think the best way to flirt (or otherwise get noticed) is to insult the person they’re talking to.
And, like many other vile behaviors, it must work often enough to keep replicating itself in some fashion. Probably more with the dating game than the getting of agents, but that almost makes it more heinous…
I’m still blinking.
And the “not bothering to include a stamp, because I know I’m going to be rejected” bit?
must eat lunch
Yes, you must. A fed (but not too fed) agent is a more effective agent. So you’re not eating just for yourself but of all of your clients and clients-to-be as well.
Okay…it’s bad enough when one is pregnant and can claim eating for two…but eating for 45?! Yikes. *g*
In this case, it’s a bit more metaphorical. . . .
Hearing from the creepy childhood acquaintance is… creepy.
Did he have the sense not to remind you that you knew each other before?
I confess I’d be pondering all matter of subtle revenge, sending a perfectly polite response that nonetheless is as cruel and heartless as one could get away with in what looks like a form letter.
But then I’d probably send a real form letter, and pretend I’d never recognized him at all.
“And please excuse the absence of a SASE, but I’ve never understood the wisdom in spending $.37 to receive a form rejection letter.”
Of course he might be spending 37c to get some worthwhile feedback, but since he assumes the form rejection I’m wondering why he doesn’t show even greater wisdom and save the outgoing postage too.
Believe it or not, you actually have some geniuses who do that. At least, they try: they use the publisher’s address as a return address and then refuse to put any postage on the envelope/package, assuming that the letter will be “returned” to the publisher in question. Oh, it’s so much fun to let these cheap bastards (I believe the term is “so cheap that he uses both sides of the toilet paper”) know that these misdirected missives are either misdirected away from editors or just chucked in the trash…
I admit the bit about the SASE totally boggles the mind. The rest of it too, but that bit in particular was the coup de grace. *shaking head*
Maybe the meanie kid really liked you and didn’t know how to express his angsty fat-kid feelings appropriately…what if he thought you’d somehow gotten the correct vibe through time and space and he poured all of his soul into this manuscript? Okay, prolly not…but do you mind if I just trip on this idea for a minute? I’ll picture someone else as the girl…Jeannine Garofolo, maybe. The fat boy is played by Johnny Depp. The brother is John Cusack, of course.
Hello, this is Catherynne Valente! I found out through Nick Mamatas that you have an LJ, and through Chase Jackson that you haven’t been able to get ahold of me, so I thought I’d put two and two together. I’d love to hear from you when you get a chance–you can reach me through my LJ anytime, as Yahoo has yet to boot an email notification from them. 😉