20 December 2011

In lieu of a real post...

I was cleaning today. Anyone who knows me knows I hate to clean. What they may not know is that I'm also a minor hoarder. I kept a majority of my college papers, and in looking through them, I found a paper my professor gave out in my novel writing class from an editorial intern at an unnamed agency, and I wanted to share it with you guys.

Dear Aspiring Authors,

If you decide that your work is ready to be sent to a publisher, for possible publication, please pay attention to the following things. Aside from it being courteous, when you don't piss people off, they have a tendency to be more open to liking your work.

First of all, SASE (Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.) I don't think I need to mention that you should include one -- if you are at all interested in writing and being published, you already know this .But here's a nifty trick -- before you include your SASE, put your manuscript inside it, to make sure it fits. If you send us thirty pages of your query letter and a SASE the size of a regular envelope, it is impossible for us to mail your MS back to you. It is hard and annoying and pisses us off to have to try to squeeze all that paper into an envelope that won't fit it.

Also, while we're on the subject of SASEs... This isn't absolutely necessary, but if YOU write a return address on the envelope, I don't have to. This isn't a major deal, but it does get annoying after mailing out thirty SASEs without return envelopes.

And, BTW? You probably already know this, but if you send more than one query letter and MS, send a SASE with each one, or you'll only get a response for one.

Which brings me to your writing resume. I don't want to see it. The editors don't want to see it. Nobody wants to see it. If you'd like us to know that you've been published in several magazines and your first novel was published by a small press and you're a long-standing member of SFWA, tell me in your query letter One page. One paragraph about you, really. I (or the editors) am not going to be more kindly disposed to your work if you include a two page writing resume detailing your accomplishments and previous jobs involving writing, being editor-in-chief at your local newspaper and teaching/taking a creative writing class at your local college. We barely look at it -- but we will read it in your query letter, if the letter is concise and to the point.

Oh, and in your query letter? I don't need an essay on why you think we should publish your work. A paragraph about your novel, and maybe a line on why you think it's good and for what age, is more than enough. If your work is good, we'll know from your writing. Including a nine page Q&A about your idea will just annoy us. And please, please, please, please, please don't misspell words in your query letter. It kind of undermines the effect you're trying for, you know?

Oh, and make sure you're sending your MS to the right place. I cannot tell you how often we get picture books. We don't not publish picture books. Please stop sending them to us! We will not pass them on to the right place. We will just reject them. The end. Do your research,

Oh, and do not try to sell us on your idea. If the writing is good, that's what counts -- if the writing is crap, I don't care how good your idea is. And please, don't name your main character after the editor you're sending it to and expect that to win points. (You think I am kidding. I am not kidding.)

I think that's all for now.

Yours truly,

[Redacted]
Editorial Intern, upon reading the slush pile

6 comments:

akoss said...

This is a post you should re-blog every year as a fresh reminder. :D

lexcade said...

LOL I think I will. It'll be my Christmas present to writers ;)

Sarah said...

This post made me very thankful that most agents accept email queries. Yipes.

Pippa Jay said...

Yeah, definitely post this one on a regular basis. I keep seeing various peeps post similar things so it needs to keep being said. :)

Rainy Kaye said...

Love it. Thank you for posting. I'll share this on Twitter :)

lexcade said...

Thanks guys :)

I still remember my professor's serious face when he handed this out to us. I think it was at that point I started that inward panic all writers deal with.

Rainy, thanks for tweeting :)

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