I understand frustration. No, really, I do. I realize that when I take the time to write back to authors who queried me, I may be on the business end of someone’s temper tantrum. Like this gent who took issue with my questions regarding his query:
You know, on second thought, you’re a fucking moron. I don’t want you anywhere near a contract of mine.
I’d say he has some ego/anger issues, wouldn’t you? The idea that I’d be anywhere near a contract of his is the stuff nightmares are made of considering he couldn’t cough up a decent pitch.
This used to really bunch up my Victoria Secrets, and that’s why I instituted a form rejection letter policy a long time ago. However, since I’m all about helping authors, I just can’t manage to stick to my guns on the form rejections all the time. There are some queries that are so poorly written, like Mr. Potty Mouth above, that they speak to me; as in “either shoot us and put us out of our misery, or help us.” Of course, in retrospect, I should have just shot it and thrown it a shovel.
But before Mr. Potty Mouth’s outburst, there were three other queries where I offered some insights, and all three wrote back thanking me profusely for my help and promised to improve the quality of their queries. That’s what it’s all about, right? If I had let the barf bags of the world bother me that much, those three might still be floundering around and collecting rejections. It’s not that my insights are sooo brilliant, but that my opinions come from an informed perspective.
Publishing is cruel and heartless enough, yet it’s populated with some of the coolest people on the planet. Seems like a dichotomy to me, but we really are motivated to help where we can. It’s the fetid bilge water like my buddy here who ruins it for everyone else.
Last night I told my good buddy, Lauren Roberts of BiblioBuffet [a book review site that will improve your brain, make you popular with the opposite sex, give you whiter teeth and fresher breath] about Mr. Nasty Pants, and she asked whether I would stop writing comments and just use the form rejection letters all the time. I decided that I was better than that. By allowing the rantings of a turgid son of a diseased yak to quiet my little red pen is giving him more power than he deserves. Screw that. I told Lauren I was thinking about inserting a disclaimer at the bottom of my submission guidelines. Something along the lines of:
Please be advised: there are times that I will comment on your query. If you have an overinflated ego, believe your writing originates from the hands of the Great Cosmic Muffin, or you’re just an ass, please state this at the top of your query, and I will joyfully send you a form rejection letter.
We had a good giggle over it, but I don’t see myself going quite this far – no matter how much I’d love to. It could be one of those warnings, like don’t remove that tag from your pillow or the law will be after you. Edited to add: yes, apparently I am that twisted and have altered my submission guidelines with the warning at the very bottom. I’m sick; I know this.
This incident made me think about the differences between nations. I have a lot of exposure to Brits, who are simply delightful. They haven’t lost their good breeding and maintain that charming British stiff upper lip. Sure, Yanks make fun of it, but we could stand to take a page out of their book. If they’re going to insult you, they at least know how to do it with élan. Why be so coarse as to tell someone to fuck off when you can invite them to go forth and fornicate with a rabid mongoose? I admire that.
So why do I open myself to insults? After all, it’s alot more time-effective to yank out the form rejections. It’s a pay it forward kind of thing. We entered this business via the backdoor, and if anyone is interested, I may tell the story one day. Because we did enter through the back door, we were infinitely fortunate to have so many people help get us where we are today. I want to take that indebtedness to help authors be the best they can be as well because I love this business, and I love authors – even the buttbuns. So while there are those whose manners were bred in a musty barn with rabid fleas, I’m willing to overlook them in order to help those whose goal is to be a writer – not an author [said in my snootiest Brit accent]. Thar be a difference.