I’m told I write some of the nicest, most encouraging responses in the business, even when it is necessary for them to be negative. I hope that’s true, I’m not in the business of stepping on anybody’s dream. But occasionally I get some that get under my skin a little. One of my editorial assts sent me one and said “You better answer this one, it just made me mad.”

The person had sent a writing sample and declined to comply with our submission guidelines because she felt most of what we asked for was our job, not hers. Her job was to write, not to write a proposal. Now as much as I appreciate someone telling me how to do my job and I’m sure I could use a lot of instruction, I still felt compelled to write her this response:

“Thank you for thinking of us with this project. In politely declining to comply with our submission guidelines you have also removed yourself from consideration instead of us having to reject you. You see, we get 2000 of these a year and before we look at the writing, we look at the proposal to see if the genre is a fit for us and to see if it looks like the writer is one we could effectively promote. Editors do the same thing on their end. In fact most rejections occur without any of the writing being read because something in the proposal told them it was not a fit. You have chosen to not give us that opportunity. It also suggests that you might be a difficult author to work with which is not really the attitude I would think you would wish to convey.

“Even for clients I already represent I will never know their project as well as they do, so the better the base proposal they use to sell us, the better the proposal we can craft to send out. We judge the writing based on the writing sample, but we judge the salability of the project based on the proposal. The one you chose not to give us.

“I wish you the best with this, but I would encourage you in the future to not argue with an agent or editor about what you should or should not provide, but to check the guidelines and send what they request or do not respond at all.”

I’m not sure what an author hopes to accomplish when they challenge what an agent or editor is asking to see, and if they think we don’t know what we are doing in what we ask to see why do they want us to represent them? It is true we ask for a little more than some, but we feel it is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. I do look at projects that don’t send what we request, but not when they announce that it is intentional.

I’m funny that way.