You know you wanna do it – but should you?

I finally got all caught up in my reading this past weekend, so now I’m a bit cross-eyed…and no one noticed. The beagle just thought she overdid the tequila to lime juice ratio again. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to see that I live around a bunch of real touchy-feely peeps.

But since I’m all caught up, that means, unfortunately, that I wrote a lot of rejection letters – which is the primary reason for the margaritas. I hate writing rejection letters because it means I failed to find something yummy. The blowback from this is that I often get a number of emails from those who received form rejection letters asking me to please pass along their query letters to those I feel may have an interest. A couple authors were kind enough to even write an email for me, and all I had to do is sign my Jane Hancock, dig into my little black book, and hit the Send button.


I don’t do this.

And let’s think about this logically. If I didn’t even read the pages, but rather rejected at the query stage, then how can an author presume I’d happily crowd someone else’s inbox with a book I haven’t even read and know practically nothing about? It’s a big stretch to go from a form rejection letter to “Hey, lend a hand, willya?”

Truth be told, I’m not a delivery service, so it’s cheeky to presume I’m going to take time out of my day to do your job. There are times when I’m impressed with a work, and even though it’s not for me I may send it along to friends who pub in other genres. But let me be clear about this: I do it rarely. And when I do pass something along, I tell the author what I’ve done.

I know authors are eager for feedback and gaining any kind of “in” possible, but this isn’t the way to go about it. Networking often helps authors gain traction, say meeting at a conference. I’ve passed out plenty of cards with the offer that they may feel free to contact me any time. But a query letter isn’t networking – it’s a transaction of sorts. You write, you send, I read, I decide. Bada bing, bada boom.

A rejection letter isn’t an invitation to further engage me into doing favors for you. Even if I read your first three chapters and gave you a nice long critique, I didn’t offer to become your ears and eyes for the industry. I – and all my fellow publishing colleagues – have very full days reading queries, editing, screaming at errant beagles, and performing the million other publishy things to put out a terrific product. Nowhere does it say that we’re a referral agency, so please resist temptation.

I know you want to do it, but you need to stop yourself and ask whether you should.

7 Responses to You know you wanna do it – but should you?

  1. You’re the boss. You’re the publisher. Why would someone assume you will pass their work on to another that might be interested? It’s not like this is an agency with different agents who might like different books.

  2. Lev Raphael says:

    Authors are desperate, authors are driven mad by the business, authors often screw up, authors simply come unmoored. That doesn’t make their bad behavior or foolishness right, or Lynn’s reaction anything but just.

    My favorite rejection from an editor back in the late 80s before
    I got my first book published in 1990: “I don’t much like your metaphors and such.”

  3. Wow, Lev, harsh crit from that editor. That said, there’s a mirror image to my post:

    Editors may read something and have a strong reaction to it. But just because we could be rude and harsh doesn’t mean we should/.

  4. awparker says:

    I wonder if this wouldn’t make a great side job for you, Lynn. You could take a bunch of your queries, read them, decide what genres they fit, move along the process by looking for publishers that fit that genre. You could then look at the manuscript, suggest changes to make it marketable, then mail it to all the publishers on their unique list.

    For your trouble, you should get 15% of the deal, don’t you think? Now, would you also mind negotiating the deal? You already know the other side of the table and it should be easy for your. After all, we gave you 15%.

    Let’s see, you will need a catchy name for this service. Any suggestions?

  5. Lauren says:

    You scream at the beagle? The beagle who makes those margaritas that you need and can … um … you know … doctor them?

    You like to live dangerously.

  6. Digital Dame says:

    I’m astounded at the lack of manners displayed by people wanting to be published. I guess I’m just really old-fashioned, but it would never even occur to me to impose on someone that way.

    But then, I guess the lack of manners in the general populace should have been my first clue.

  7. You do have a way with words and your comments always ring with clarity. Love it!

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