The UN-Editorial Notepad – #3

Posted by Rita Lorraine

Hi Everybody,
I’m finally back with another un-editorial observation that I hope will help you as you make your way in the publishing world.

A LITTLE COURTESY GOES A LONG WAY

Most of the time, the books I review come from very polished, very polite people (publishers and individuals alike) who are excited about getting an outside opinion of their work…and I’m more than happy to give them one. But every once in a while, a request comes from someone who’s the exact opposite, and then all you-know-what breaks loose!

Case #1: I recently received a review request from a person whose email came across as annoyed, pushy and downright in-a-hurry. There was no greeting, no courteous opening like, “I hope you’re well,” or “I hope you’re enjoying the holiday.” Just “I want my book reviewed.”

I was turned off the moment I read the first line, but I read on out of sheer fascination. “I already asked you to review my book once,” the email went on, “but you said you were busy. Are you still busy? Can I send my book now?”

Now, do I really need to explain why I was annoyed with his email? I mean, whatever happened to the niceties in life? The courtesies? I don’t receive one red cent (or even a blue one) for reviewing books. I do it out of love of reading, and in a sincere effort to get great books into the hands of the children waiting to read them. I don’t feel it’s too much to ask that people approach me with a little courtesy. And no, I’m not saying to grovel; I’m no queen. I’m just saying, if you’d like me to do you a favor, you should be polite about it.

Case #2: I received a request from a different writer, and I told him I’d be happy to review his book IF he sent me a hardback or paperback or official galley. He then sent me an irate email, demanding to know why I would not accept ebooks or pdf’s. He included a full page of statistics about how more and more people are reading ebooks and pdf’s, and how these two media forms will soon nudge “real” books into the dark abyss. He also included a link to a post about how “reviewers try to take advantage of writers by demanding actual copies of their books, when everyone knows book copies are expensive.” 🙁

Wow, he really made me feel good about myself as a reviewer. NOT! Truth is, my poor eyes need a break from the computer sometimes…but who says I have to explain that to this man? He approached me with a need, so shouldn’t it be my way or the highway? Just sayin’.

Case #3: I received a request from a lady who, after I told her the criteria for a review, assured me her book was not a pdf, but was in fact a galley. What I received was several loose typing sheets with page images reduced so small, I couldn’t read the blots–I mean letters, without a magnifying glass.

When I emailed and told her I couldn’t see the print, and that I needed her to send me a book, she sent a nasty email saying, “I’m trying to save money. I sent you what you asked for. Oh, just forget it.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I find these situations (and several others like them) offensive. Attitudes like these make me want to slam the delete button with a fiendish glee in my eyes.

So why am I including these situations in my un-editorial notepad? Because writers should never think these attitudes are acceptable behavior. No matter how anxious you are to get your masterpiece out there; no matter how hard you’ve worked or how many times you’ve been rejected, an ugly attitude will get you nothing except another rejection.

And that leads us to submitting your work to editors, agents and publishers. In Case #1, I wrote a polite reply to that rude person, but I’m almost certain an editor, agent or publisher would have deleted the email without a second thought. In Case #2, the writer’s name would have probably been sticky-noted to the computer screen to remind publishing personnel to avoid his future messages like the plague. And in Case #3, I have no doubt an editor, agent or publisher would have dumped those loose pages like yesterday’s stinky garbage.

So this edition of the un-editorial notepad is to advise anyone who’ll listen to NEVER get pushy with these members of the publishing world, even if you have had a hard time getting your story recognized. They are the decision-makers in the publishing world, so my suggestion is, always be courteous to them. In fact, SCRATCH THAT…be courteous to everybody! Your story’s publication may depend upon it.

I hope this un-editorial observation has helped, and here’s wishing you much success in 2012!

Best wishes,

Rita Lorraine

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