Saturday, March 04, 2006

Memorable Response to Rejection

Over the last few years, I’ve read thousands of pitches and proposals. Some of them come from agents and professional authors. Others when you open the package, you can tell it’s clearly a first-time submission. If it’s not a first time, then it’s someone who is clueless about how publishing works and what the editor expects to receive from an author. A-First-Response

In the last few weeks, I’ve received several query letters which arrived without the expected self-addressed-stamped-envelope or SASE. If they don’t have an SASE, then the query letter needs to have a free means for the editor to respond (such as an email address). As I’ve explained in previous entries about the writing life, it’s a completely false expectation for the editor (and publisher) to respond to a writer’s query and put their own postage on the envelope. Such expenses would amount to many dollars over the course of a year with extremely little return (other than good will).

For the few letters in this state that I receive, I send my standard form rejection but at the bottom I write something like, “It’s the author’s responsibility to provide a response mechanism such as a self-addressed-stamped-envelope or an email address. If you are wondering why no editor’s respond to your query it’s because the common response is to discard such queries. I had pity and stuck on this stamp.”

In yesterday’s mail, I received another first. Yes, I scanned it for this entry, blocked the author’s name and the name of the project. It included a real one dollar bill saying,

“Dear Brother in Christ,

Thanks for the kindness you portrayed by purchasing with your own lucre the stamp to send to me your letter of rejection. However, I am sending this dollar to reimburse you for the money you sacrificed. Keep the change for whatever stress that my careless oversight may have caused you to endure. I will be praying God’s blessing for you.

Matthew 5:39, 44–45

P.S. I wish you had at least read my manuscript. I’m a really good writer.”

I did carefully consider this writer’s query but it didn’t fit what we needed at Howard fiction. If he was a “really good writer,” why didn’t the first paragraph of his pitch letter leap off the page and compel me to pick up the phone and call him for his manuscript? It didn’t happen. Instead, I got a good laugh and the writer made a memorable impression.

Yes, I will remember this author’s name—but not in the way that he desires. It’s another example for you about how not to respond to editors. The world of publishing is small—something never to forget.

6 Comment:

At 7:38 AM, Blogger T. Suzanne Eller Left a note...

I think this is the biggest mistake that new writers make. They fail to understand that this is a small world and when they respond with a lack of grace, their actions are remembered for a long time. They also fail to understand that editors move from house to house, so that one jerky response may be recalled in several publishing houses.

Suzie Eller

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Catherine West Left a note...

That is pretty funny. One one hand I can understand his frustration...but on the other he didn't do himself any favors and in my opinion his response borders on bad manners.

At 12:50 PM, Blogger Terri Left a note...

I'm thankful that I hung out with experienced Christian writers online before I sent out my first query. All waiting-to-be-published writers should join writing groups and learn from others' mistakes so they don't become "memorable". cwg@yahoogroups.com and fcw@yahoogroups.com are two of my favorites.

Terri Pilcher

At 2:50 PM, Blogger Shesawriter Left a note...

His actions were classic passive/aggressive. He blessed you, while at the same time implying that your response was cheap and petty. Rather than being grateful for your thoughtful gesture (giving him a head's up as to how this business really works), he retaliated with this juvenile stunt.


At 9:38 PM, Blogger eileen Left a note...

Sad it's not even enough to get a cup of coffee! What a stunt. Thanks for sharing your insights.

At 2:20 PM, Blogger Unknown Left a note...

I'm sure you've got tons of stories to tell. At least your work isn't without memorable moments.


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