on the importance of proofreading

From an email query received today:

“Please contact me using the enclosed SASE if you are interested in my completed manuscript.”

And people think agents are kidding when they say to proofread the query letter. This is your first impression. It may be your only opportunity. Don’t be careless. It’s only one page (in most cases). If this letter isn’t important enough for careful scrutiny, what is that likely to say about the attention given to the manuscript itself?

29 responses to “on the importance of proofreading

  1. I read this three times; where’s the error?

  2. Took me a couple of times to spot this one. Thanks for the laugh!

  3. *I* got it right away. Do I get a prize?

  4. I got it, then said, “It can’t be that simple,” read it again, then said, “No, apparently it can be.”

  5. Oh, heh. Okay. I read it about fifty times before I gave up and went to the comment section for answers. *headesk*
    This is the reason I simply don’t mention SASEs in my queries! I figure the agent knows what it’s for. And I would totally make a mistake like this. Oops.

    • went to the comment section for answers
      Me, too. 😉

    • Don’t feel bad — so did I!

    • This is the reason I simply don’t mention SASEs in my queries!
      –>Me too! I don’t mention them in short story cover letters either. “A SASE is enclosed for your reply” makes me think the subtext is “…in case you didn’t know what it was doing in there, idiot.”
      I’ve been known to use “A SASE is enclosed for your convenience,” but I don’t dig on that, either.
      I assume all editors and agents automatically look for the SASE. It’s supposed to be there.

      • I think I put something about the SASE in for the simple reason that there are multiple agents saying that if it doesn’t have one it goes straight to the bin.
        I guess I’m hoping it shows the SASE was meant to be enclosed and, should the worst happen, they might check for it having come adrift in the envelope or falling on the floor, or at least not believe me to belong to the sect who believe agents should pay the return postage.

  6. I had to read it a few times, too. I skimmed the first part to get to the actual enquiry part, so the email bit went right past my tired brain. Oops. A lesson learned.

  7. Not to seem utterly brain dead, but I read that about 8 times before I realized it was an e-query.
    Definitely time for coffee.

  8. Man, I had to read that three times over to grok the problem.
    :: boggle ::

  9. You obviously didn’t activate the nanites that could be uploaded to your server that could exit through your speakers and build the SASE from the extra molecules in the air. 😉

  10. *snerk* At first I didn’t see what the problem was and then I re-read the beginning of your post. Hilarious.

  11. A nice example of self-selection. Saves you the trouble of those pesky decisions.

  12. Gawd. That’s funny.

  13. You should’ve told the person that she didn’t include sufficient postage and to please send more…
    C who only read it three times okay four before realizing–EMAIL!!!! *smacks head*

  14. Ahem. From an email query? I’m gonig to be scratching my head over that one for awhile (when I’m done laughing about it). Thanks!

  15. <lj user="jaylake" recommended your journal as one to watch. I already get your feed. Would it be alright to add you and would you consider adding me back?

  16. Just a comment…as a query sender… my pet peeve is getting a letter from a well-known agent from a well-known agency that had my correct name and address at the heading of the form letter and the correct name of my manuscript in the body of the letter, but started the letter as “Dear Mr. Wright,…” I am not a Mr. nor is my last name ‘Wright’. The point is, she failed to correct the greeting of her form letter as she was pounding them out that night. Attention to detail floats both ways, I imagine.

    • That’s surely very unfortunate. And, you’re right, people should take as much care as possible in correspondence. If that happens to be me that you are complaining about, you have my apology. At least that was an honest mistake (as was the item I posted above from the e-query letter that I took as an amusment in my day — unlike the next post in which the attitude of the individuals was more of a problem than the fact that they disregarded common courtesies).

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