Friday, January 28, 2011

Blog Flog! Not Following Rules Tells The Editors and Agents Something About You!

Now, before I get started today, I want to stress that editors and agents are not rejecting people simply because of a writer's lack of ability to follow the rules, but...the odds are you have highly damaged any chance that we will want to read more of your project or sign you.

I have said this before, but I will say it again. "You never get a second chance to make a first impression." Sending a project to an editor or agent and not doing what they ask for is a sure sign that you have a hard time either A) reading; or B) following directions.

I bring this up after a round of reading submissions yesterday. I created an online form for those writers that, for some reason feel they can't writer a query letter. Now I won't get started on the fact that the form has all of the material that you would have in a query but... In any case, the form has specific spots for a writer to fill in the information. I tell them what I want and the specific guidelines. And still they miss it.


TITLE - I had authors names, I had people inserting the genre, I had people inserting log lines.
WORD COUNT - This one still gets me. I state that stories must be at least 75,000 words unless targeting a Harlequin line; and yet, I am always having someone insert word counts below that, or stated in page numbers? Huh? Oh, and yes, I have seen people insert other material such as log lines here.
GENRE - Now I understand that some people may be confused about their genres. They might wonder if their story is paranormal or urban fantasy. However, I have had people tell me it is one genre and then hit the Additional Information section and tell me it is something else. Not working for me.

The deal is this. You might honestly have the next best novel out there. You might be a future billionaire author. But if you can't follow directions for a submission, what does this tell the editor or agent about your ability to take directions from them?

Have a great weekend!



  1. I've noticed there are quite a few literary agencies out there that have gone green and push for electronic queries. It's a matter of preference, but I don't particularly care for the process. Not only does it rob me of personality, it leaves me with a sense of uncertainty. Whether it's assuming the agent received the query or if he/she will respond and accidentally wind up in my spam folder...disaster. At least when I send out a query letter, which is by the way two of the nastiest words in the English language, I know where the mail is going. Have a great weekend!

  2. Laila,

    I understand the frustration with the email thing. One option you might want to consider is sending it with a "delivery confirmation". When it reaches the email box, your server would send you a confirmation. You don't need to go with the "Read Confirmation." That is a bit much. I know for myself, I never click that button, and often, I only open the email to read it when I am ready to read it.

    I should also note that there are still many agencies that prefer one method of submissions but will also take snail mail. I know I do, but those are the ones I get to last.

    Finally, as far as the "robbing you of your personality" I am not sure how that happens. Whether a query comes via email or snail mail, you would still include the same things, unless, God forbid, you're sending chocolate, pictures and scented paper. I don't think you are though. I will admit, my form is pretty lifeless, but that is why people can also send a standard email query.

    Personality is still an option here!


  3. Oh, and as far as hating the words query letter. Call it an informational resume and cover letter. It is the same thing!

  4. Scott,

    Thank you for your reply regarding equeries. I'm sure your form is user friendly. As for personality, this is going to sound silly. To me writing just leaves an imprint, a residue, a scent. Okay, so I'm romanticising the whole writing craft. Maybe I just have a soft spot for paper. Regardless, you're not getting my chocolate. Take care.

  5. Thanks for the tips. I just reformatted my entire manuscript for a contest because of their submission guidelines. It took an hour and a half, but I'd rather it be the way they want it than have a disqualified entry because of incorrect spacing.

    It is important to make sure you follow guidelines and instructions. I think any writer who has a regular 9-5 in customer service would feel the same way about their customers.