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So I have this “friend” on Facebook who emailed all her “friends” for a call to action.  It seems her manuscript has been over at Razorbill, one of Penguin’s YA imprints, and since it’s been about five months, she’s asking EVERYONE she knows to write letters or email Razorbill to tell them to please publish it.  She also encourages everyone to write multiple times to them!

I’m not sure if it’s obvious to you, but I think it bears saying nonetheless:

People, writers-in-training, hopeful submitters…?  Please for the love of all that is holy do not engage in this type of behavior.

I happen to work in the adult side of the Penguin building (outside of being an Ace author).  This type of practice is more likely to go terribly wrong and get your manuscript tossed.

I understand that you've been waiting awhile (and five months really isn’t that long a while, even though every day is a painful death to the hopeful young writer), but that's what publishing is... waiting. And it's a business. Filling an editors mail box or email with "fan" mail of an unpublished book MIGHT come off as a bit crazy or desperate. I know my editor there would freak. Yea, it gets you noticed, but not necessarily in a good way.

I pointed this out to her, saying I could be full of beans, I suppose… I mean, hey, it’s possible they’d see it as all spunky and determined and PUBLISH HER BOOK OMGWTFBBQ!!!1!

But I really don’t think that’s how an acquiring editor is going to read all that overstuffed mailbox stuff that’s keeping them from getting to their to-be-read pile of manuscripts in the first place.  So I had my say, and wished her luck.

She replied back to say thanks for the support but one, it was too late to turn back, and that two, the worst that could happen is she gets a no, followed by a “big deal there are many other publishing houses out there.”

People- let me say that the worst that could happen isn’t just a simple no.  The worst that could happen is you earn a reputation at one of the largest publishing houses in the states by your ill-thought antics as a bit of a whack job.  Yeah, you can take it elsewhere and try, but editors and such all talk to each other across the industry.  And let’s say no one buys this book… and you write another.  What have you done now?  You can’t submit to them again, can you?  You’ve already earned a reputation…

 I get it.  I’ve been there, wanting desperately to have someone say yes or no.  Wanting to find a clever way to get them to move their asses… but a little civility and patience go a long way.

She kind of petered out with a you gotta do what you can to make your dreams come true kinda thing at the end, and that’s about the time I realized it was all wasted on her, but I hope this example helps some of you realize what NOT to do.

 Oh, and the kicker?  She then offered to send the first five chapters along!  Sigh…

 Share at will.


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)

Say, what if I start a campaign to get them to stop publishing certain authors?
Dec. 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
Why do I feel I'm high on that list?
Dec. 8th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Well, is it really "high" if you're the only one on it?
Dec. 8th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
This chickie and Funeral-Woman should be penpals.
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 8th, 2008 07:03 pm (UTC)
you know, I've never seen the two of them in the same place.. hmmmm...
Dec. 8th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Not surprised, but I didn't know you were friends with Mr. Strout here!
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 8th, 2008 07:59 pm (UTC)
Between the two of us we must know everyone!
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:01 pm (UTC)
Please tell everyone to buy my book. I would like to pay off my credit cards, and I think "everyone" should just about cover it!
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC)

I'll do what I can. I've been meaning to pick it up, myself. Looks like great creepy fun!
Dec. 8th, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)
Oh dear ghu. I'd like to say I've never heard a story like this one, but... I have. Someone tried the same stunt with an editor at Tor. Did not go over well.

Oh, and the kicker? She then offered to send the first five chapters along!

Why am I not surprised?

Dec. 8th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
*Twitch* Ugh. We've had two editors talk at our writing group who gave us the down and dirty of what to-dos and what-not-to-dos. Reading this made me twinge. Multiple times. The one woman even said what you stated. It really is a small crowd with editors, everyone talks to everyone else. So it's just better to play nice and NOT piss off the people who are going to be looking at your book. We had one guy who submitted waited at least six or seven months for a reply.
Dec. 8th, 2008 07:04 pm (UTC)
Advice noted. Just...ouch.

Dec. 8th, 2008 07:12 pm (UTC)
That is ATROCIOUS! From the editorial side, I gotta say that is the type of thing that really makes an editor think twice about an author. It might not bar them from ever being published, but it is a HUGE hurdle to get past. The writing would have to be PHENOMENAL for an editor to take a risk on an unagented author who clearly has no patience or sense of tact or professionalism.

And as for the industry being small and people talking -- yeah, I'm not even in the adult side of things and I'm already expecting to hear about this woman at an upcoming networking event.

The saddest thing about all of this is that sometimes all it takes is a simple follow-up to get the editor to take a quick look. Having friends and family send in letters is just such a huge waste of resources and its an overreaction to a process that everyone has to go through. Bravo on you for posting this as a warning to future authors-in-waiting.
Dec. 8th, 2008 08:00 pm (UTC)
Just painful. I totally understand her desperation, but that's not the way to go about getting your dreams made into reality. Do not bite potential hands that feed you... le ouch.

Dec. 8th, 2008 09:17 pm (UTC)
If my work can't stand on its own merits, then telling my friends/mom/dog/stuffed animals to beg for me won't do squat. And so far, my work hasn't really stood on its own merits. That means I need to work harder on it, not that I need to get my own cheerleading section and aim them at someone I want to do something for me.

::sigh:: Which reminds me. Anton, no need to answer this one if you don't want to, but is there a page that you know of for any anthologies that are taking open submissions? If such a thing exists :/
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:19 pm (UTC)
I would suggest checking out ralan.com. They have a clicky section called anthology markets... the website looks old school, but a lot of good anthos and the like post to there...
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you :)
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)
Interesting input! Thank you!

What do you think of self-publishing as a first step?
Dec. 8th, 2008 09:49 pm (UTC)
That's an essay for another day... but short answer: Everyone should try the long term bruises of trying to get published. Self-publishing is its own special Pandora's Box...
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:04 pm (UTC)
guess what today's post is about?
Dec. 11th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)
Oooohhhhh, that's a tough one... *ponders*
Dec. 9th, 2008 01:45 am (UTC)
Yep, saw this earlier (mentioned it on my blog too). Just...so bad. So, so BAD.

Dec. 9th, 2008 01:46 pm (UTC)
Wow ... Just wow. I figured editors had to put up with a certain amount of unprofessionalism, but that's extreme. Maybe I've been out of the Real World long enough to have forgotten how crazy people really are.
Dec. 9th, 2008 02:46 pm (UTC)
Why oh why....

It must be a generational thing or something. Whould she be part of the "me" or "gimme" generation? As one of those heathen, on-again-off-again, wanna-be, poser, "writers" out there, I would certainly be shitting bricks waiting for something to develop. But the simple fact that a publisher HAS my submission would make me happy. And the fact that the publisher is READING my submission would be even better. And they're considering PUBLISHING it? Oh my, I think I just had an orgasm.

I've never submitted work to anybody but close friends and one established author (who provided feedback for a small fee). Despite my level of novice-ness, even I know not to go wachko-jacko on them. Sheesh. Can I start a campaign where I'll kindly submit my attempt at "writing" in her place? I promise I'll be quiet, calm, cool, and collected. Hell, I'll even handle the rejection politely and cherish any feedback I'm given.
Dec. 9th, 2008 03:56 pm (UTC)
I can't believe a) the stupidity and b) the arrogance and c) the delusion this person lives under.

!£££$^£"! - am at a loss for words here!
Dec. 9th, 2008 05:11 pm (UTC)
Oh, for the love of $^%#%^$#*! This is one of the reasons why I always stress how small a world publishing is when I talk to new writers, especially within a given genre. With f&sf I point out that the total pool of professionals is basically the size of a large high school with all the inherent group dynamics of unit that size. Will be pointing writers this way for this post.
Dec. 10th, 2008 03:44 am (UTC)
That is fucking ridiculous.

And I feel it must be said:

New Stephanie Meyer? Y/Y???
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )