Because you read doesn't mean....
Writers never cease to amaze me. Just because they can read books and had to write some essays during their schooling, they figure they can pull up to their keyboard and write a book. These folks are the ones in the old days who cranked a blank sheet into their typewriter and after a while produced a book-length manuscript. It was probably unpublishable but they felt good in completing it and decided to send it out into the book marketplace. For most of them, this type of action only brought a number of rejection slips and clogged the editor’s (or some assistant’s) mailbox.
Another type of person has had a successful career in one area such as business or education and when they retire, they decide to write a book. Often these individuals have forgotten what steps they took to become successful in their previous career. After all, those early struggling days happened a long time ago. These writers crank out their pages and fire it off to the editor without bothering to learn the editor’s expectations or the system of publishing.
Over the last few days, I’ve received a couple of fresh examples of this process. Because my address and email is on the publisher’s website, I get a steady stream of this material into my electronic box and regular mail box. Yesterday I opened two packages from would-be novelists—each package without an email address (for a rejection letter) or a self-addressed-stamped-envelope (SASE). It’s simply because these writers didn’t know to include this information. I believe the majority of their submissions will never receive a response.
Or I got an email titled, “Submission” which was strangely written and pointed to a website to check out their submission instead of sending a one page query letter. I could have ignored this email (which many editors would have done or deleted it immediately). Instead I sent a brief response, “I will not be clicking on your website to see your submission. Learn to write a query letter or you will be repeatedly rejected in this market--plain and simple. I'm searching for something very specific. I'm acquiring six to eight full length adult Christian novels.” I figured at least this writer heard from me.
In a short time, I received a response (written all in CAPITAL LETTERS), "No, my dear, you are dead wrong. I am receiving lots of positive response to my “query” letters. When I worked for _____________, they declared me to be a “master of marketing.” As such, I generated over $300,000.00 a year in income. Your unkind comments cause me to think that you resemble a “Christian” only in the sense a woodpecker resembles a carpenter.” Notice this writer’s tactic of switching the subject—attacking my Christian faith—instead of sticking to the original area of writing a professional query letter for the submission.
And writers wonder why many editors never respond to these types of submissions? Or they send a form letter and nothing else? Just because you can type or you can write something, doesn’t mean it will find an audience. With the large number of self-publishers or print-on-demand publishers almost anyone can get a book published (for a financial fee). Now finding an audience and getting that particular book sold into the market is a completely different story.
As an editor, I’ve tried to take a different tack for writers. I want to encourage the craft of writing and that they will take the time to learn how publishing works.