This was left in the comment section of our submission guidelines, and I thought I’d bring this to the forefront:
Well, I did not follow the submission guidelines at all and was responded to almost immediately. The feedback was terse yet accurate in regards to the guidelines. I do wonder, however, about those rare times (and I am not claiming that this is one of them) when someone is overlooked due to rules and procedure.
Yes, he’s right, my reply was terse. Here it is, in fact:
You would have been well-served if you’d thoroughly read our submission guidelines and learn how to write a proper query letter. Lord knows I gave plenty of links to sample queries and how to write one, so there is really no excuse for anyone to send anything other than what is requested. If an editor or agent wants pages, they’ll ask for them. But a query is just that; a fast intro to you and the guts of your book. Few are going to wade through the eight or nine pages you sent. It’s never a good idea to assume you know what I need to see. I’ve already stated what I need, and you didn’t provide it.
Also, I state very clearly that we don’t publish cookbooks.
It isn’t my intent to be rude, but to offer you some sage advice that will serve you well in your writing endeavors. I recommend reading our blog; it is geared toward educating the new author so they know how to submit with confidence and clarity. Best of luck to you.
The poster in question had the good humor to consider his sporadic ego problem, which was nice. Normally I get a salvo blown over my bow telling me what I can do with my replies and my submissions guidelines. But this gent blew it by contacting me again to request that I review his work anyway so tell I could tell him whether he should keep his day job. Huh?
NOTICE TO ALL AUTHORS: Editors are not, not, not in the critique business. We are overworked, underpaid slaves to the written word. While we adore what we do more than breathing, I have no sign hanging above my desk that says “I crit for beer.” I don’t, so don’t ask. Don’t ask me, any other editor or agent. I don’t care about your life story or how many times you’ve been in and out of jails, whorehouses, Mexico, or X-rated movie theaters. If I don’t publish it and I say no, then I really do mean no. This isn’t “Let’s Make a Deal Because I’ve Had a Hard Life.” I’m no Monty Hall.
The poster also wonders out loud how many “great” manuscripts are overlooked because the author didn’t follow the guidelines. The answer is, “I have no idea.” But I temper that by adding that if the author is incapable of reading simple submission guidelines, they’re sending me some very loud messages.
A) I’m dumber than a box of rocks
B) I have a reading comprehension problem
C) I know what you really want
All three are direct paths to the reject pile because, face it, why would I want to work with any of these three types? If they’re dumb, let them be dumb somewhere else. If they have a reading comprehension problem, it could make contract negotiations and editing rather interesting. If they “really” know what I want, then they’re the type who orders my dinner and drinks without consulting me. There is no surer and faster way to feel the business end of my Prada shoes than believing you know what I want. Heck, my darling hubby of 30 years is still trying to figure that out. And my Dad? He gave up on me when I got married.
Let’s look at this from a different perspective; say you’re out to dinner and you decide on the veal marsala, angel hair pasta, and green salad. You tell the waiter your order, only when he comes back, he gives you roast beef, carrots, and a baked potato. Now that roast beef may very well be the most fabo dinner in three counties, but, crikey, that isn’t what you ordered. So you tell Mr. Good Luck Getting a Tip that you want your veal marsala, angel hair pasta, and green salad pronto. He comes back with a hamburger and fries. Now you’re ready to put a fork in his eyes. Damn it, you nitwit, I didn’t order roast beef or a hamburger, just what exactly is your effing problem??
Ah, so now does this bring it home? Your personal roast beef or hamburger may have been the absolute bee’s knees, but it isn’t what I ordered. So no matter how great it may taste, you didn’t give me what I ordered even though I was as explicit as a stripper on Sunset Blvd on a Friday night. And because you didn’t give me what I ordered, I will dump your dinner offerings out and never give it a second thought. And I will never eat at that restaurant again.
So what you shoulda done is follow the submission guidelines, then you coulda gotten my attention, and I woulda read your work.
If going against the grain floats your boat, then you really should take a job in the government where you can get paid to screw things up.