Thursday, February 16, 2012

What Not To Send An Editor Part 2

As someone you can hire to help you write better, get published, get edited, improve your sales and get things done, I get a lot of strange requests and offers for help.

Previously, I started a list of what not to send me (or people like me) to get to help you. This is a continuation of that list.

REMEMBER - You can avoid making these mistakes by starting conversations and making things WAY less awkward. You can avoid ending up on lists like this one.

1. Please DO NOT send food OR food for any pets. This is not elementary school, I am totally not going to be swept off my feet because you made me rice krispie treats with peanut butter and bacon on them. And no, it's very likely you don't know the brand of dog food my dog prefers. And even if you send me these food items wrapped in cellophane and duct tape, I have no idea if there's a juicy bubonic / Dengue fever core in your baked goods. Any food I get is immediately trashed, unless I happen to know you and have eaten your cooking at least once before. 

2. Please DO NOT send drugs. I don't care if your story is best read/edited after a few good bong hits and three tabs of acid. I don't care if you have a sweet connection for some Bolivian Marching Powder. DO NOT send me drugs along with your manuscript. Two things will happen - I call the police and I tell every agent/editor I can find not to talk to you. 

3. Please DO NOT imply death threats or violence against individuals, families or pets. I'm really sorry that your writing career isn't taking off the way you hoped. I'm really sorry that you haven't bought that island with the royalties of your thirtieth novel. I'm really sorry that five agents rejected you in January, and that you have come to me as your last resort, and that if I don't some how miracle you a best-seller one of us "is going to have trouble in the near future". Or "that barking dog isn't going to bother you anymore". Just as with #2 above, should that happen, the police get called, my lawyer gets called and everyone I know hears about it. 

4. Please DO NOT send "unrated" editions of your manuscript as a "bonus". It's so totally not a bonus to know that you have alternate versions of chapters 11-14 where the two protagonists engage in a steamy incestuous relationship involving mustard greens, decorative soaps and safe words with more than ten letters. If the agent or editor likes your work and wants to see it, send them what they're asking for. 

5. Please DO NOT send encoded materials. Okay, it's cute, your manuscript has like a Da Vinci Code cipher going on. Great, there's a whole second act with anagrams and puns. Nifty. But if the agent/editor wants to see the work, they shouldn't have to break out their Little Orphan Annie decoder ring in order to read your work. Be sure to drink your Ovaltine and send them what they're asking for, not Roman ciphers and cryptogram paragraphs. 

6. Please DO NOT think you're 'doing anyone a favor' by submitting your work. Okay, your query/pitch was intriguing, someone has asked to see more of your work. This is our job, this is what we do -- we're not singling you out from the human race and taking you aboard our space craft, nor are you the next great supreme chancellor of the galaxy. It's our job to look at work, and your job to send it. 

7. Please DO NOT include extra material "for when there's down time" or "when you're bored". I'm not sure if you know this, but my editorial schedule is now booked through LABOR DAY 2012. I mean yes, I have a few days off here and there so I can do things like laundry and grocery shopping and maybe, if I'm lucky go out to dinner with friends or family, but huge chunks of each month have been booked (And some months, booked completely). When I get bored, I have loads of other things to do that aren't editing. Ask yourself - when you get bored at your job, do you do more work to get less bored? Didn't think so. If I say send me a chapter or a manuscript or whatever, that's all I want. 

8. Please DO NOT sign me up for magazine subscriptions. If you are going to send me a package in the mail or via UPS or Fed Ex, please do not make use of whatever address I provide and sign me up for magazines, periodicals and random porn catalogs. I can use Google too, you're not showing me too much I haven't seen already.

9. Please DO NOT send a DVD along with your manuscript. If you send your manuscript and enclose with it a personalized DVD thanking me for reading your manuscript and/or considering taking you on as a client or student, do you want to know my first thought? That 90% of the time, these videos turn out like bad ransom demands from overseas. It's extra creepy, even if you use all the cool wipes and effects Adobe has to offer. Just send the manuscript. A thank you note/card/e-mail is totally appreciated after the fact, even if you get rejected.

10. Please DO NOT assume we're in some weird relationship. Okay, so someone in a position of authority has wanted to read your manuscript, that very intimate creation of yours where you risk your heart and soul to make it work. Yes, someone is paying attention to you, and is maybe even praising your skills. Don't freak out and confuse "working together" for "loving you". I love my clients the same way I love peanut butter, good NBA games, new dice and caffeine. But in none of those cases am I getting into a bed with them or whispering sweet nothings in their ear at 3am while we listen to the rain and wish we could dance for hours under the moon. You're a client. Not a spouse. Not a lover. Not a fling. Not even a masturbatory fantasy. DO NOT send your agent or editor love letters, intimate photos, locks of hair (of any kind) or detailed emails about what you did in the shower. Seriously. DO NOT DO THIS. IT WILL LEAD TO PEOPLE NOT WANTING TO BE ANYWHERE NEAR YOU. Not cool.

The weekend is coming. Hope you're going to be writing. Rock on.