Someone asked me a while ago whether I had any pet peeves when it came to writing — I believe they mentioned that one of my blogging agent compadres had said they were tired of the abducted heroine plot in romance novels. The truth is that I have a hard time coming up with them in the actual books. There are cliches, sure, but those are usually not the full reason I decline a project or they turn out to be something the writer feels compelled to correct once it’s pointed out to them. I don’t like heavy info-dumps via exposition, true. But, again, that’s less of a pet peeve than that I just find it lazy writing. I think most of my pet peeves seem to come out of other areas of the job.
And, since I read queries last night, I ran across one in particular that has always gotten on my nerves. There were, in fact, two of these last night — one for a partial and the other for a full manuscript. Both of these were unrequested, but submitted in spite of traditional guidelines (and I’m quite sure they didn’t read our own guidelines at all). The real clincher, though, was that the opening sentence of each letter apologized for being so forward as to send unsolicited material, but then they, of course, went ahead and did so regardless. And that’s what gets to me. These two individuals obviously felt they were out of turn, but they apparently decided not to care, or thought it shouldn’t apply to them for whatever reason. It’s their postage, sure. But the whole attitude of the letter is already starting off in a way that strikes me as incontrovertibly rude. And written by a person who won’t respect boundaries in the future either. (My most favorite part of one of these letters is the section wherein they harsh on the agent they are planning on leaving. Why, yes, I do know that agent personally, and, though I’ll give somewhat of a pass for the story of this relationship being one-sided, charged language is probably not a way to win me over and make me feel you’ll be an occasionally reasonable person to work with.) Oh, and this also goes for unsolicited electronic submissions with attachments. I most certainly will not be opening a file from someone I don’t know. Plus, I don’t really appreciate getting your multi-meg magnum opus when you aren’t aware whether I have high-speed or whether the account you’re sending to has the capacity for such a file. Again, it just strikes me as rude and oblivious – not qualities one wants in a client.
End of rant. I shall now take an early lunch and read some more of the client manuscript I’m in the midst of….