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….
I take it that you are an editor for a book company? Which one?
But did you glance over the unrequested materials?
I’ve seen some agent blogs (I can’t remember which one) where the agent complains about unsolicited material and then admits to reading it, or parts of it, at least.
This is why people send in unsolicited manuscripts. They want their manuscript to be rejected, not their query (which has probably already happened).
Seriously, even if you do glance over unsolicited stuff, I think you should tell people you pitch them unread. Saying otherwise just encourages people.
Do agents and editors look over unsolicited material? Yeah, from time to time. I think it’s called a slush pile.
Would I reccommend to an agent or editor that they admit reading over unsolicited material as it comes over the transom? — No. The only thing you’re doing is encouraging every WannaBeWriter to say, “Screw the rules!” and waste valuable time that should have been spent discovering new clients or taking care of existing clients.
I would like to enter this professional and formal business relationship by demonstrating that: a) I either cannot or do not care to follow the rules and, b) I place no value on your time or your client’s time. I am doing this because: a) I am too lazy or ignorant to learn the ins and outs of this business in which I consider myself a professional and b) oh what the hell anyway it’s good to feed the shredder.
I would also like to take the time out to speak poorly about my current agent who did nothing for me as a newbie writer (except get my first (couple of) contact(s)). H/She did not push the publisher for a larger budgest for the publicist and I blame my first (second,thirds) novel’s mid-list sales on everyone but myself. Again, being too lazy to undertand the nature of this trade, I have no idea that it’s a small industry and people talk— a lot.
Anyways, you are TEH COOLEST and here’s 430 pages for you to read over. I expect a response by tomorrow. OKTHXBYE
-signed newbie/struggling mid-list author
You made me snort water out my nose!
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.
That is very rude. It reminds me of those busybodies who will say “I don’t mean to pry…” and then go right ahead and ask you uncomfortable, intrusive questions anyway. Or “I don’t want to tell you what you should do…” Well, then don’t.
Good comparisons. What it made me think of initially are those people who bump into you pretty darn hard and nearly knock you down and then say “excuse me” like they don’t really mean it.
Everybody wants to be the exception, eh? Too bad. Burning bridges. Not even! Burning bridges before they’re crossed.
Shred that letter. 😀