Thursday, October 21, 2010

Maybe we are quietly judging you

Having not sent off any novel WIP for years, after request for partials, in my excitement I sent them off without title pages and no paper clip. This only just dawned on me this morning when I was reading something that reminded me what an author does when being professional and not trying to irritate said agents.

I can imagine said agents opening up my parcel and the WIP falling out everywhere and them snatching up the pages and using them as basketball practice with their bins.

I know you can’t predict the future, but how high do you think I have just raised the possibility of rejection?

From a writer who is feeling very stupid and irritated with themself that they may have just ruined the only opportunity they had to get an Australian agent to read their work.

True or false: It is a well-known fact that agents often use hapless authors' submissions for purposes other than the intended e.g. for making paper aeroplanes, in lieu of notepaper - and for basketball practice.

Well, hapless author, if you answered 'true', you're out of luck. We tend to take submissions as they are and, actually, treat them quite nicely. So you can allay your fears on that score.

On the score of sending them off without title pages and paperclips, I'd only say this is bad if you also sent them off without an accompanying letter that included your name and contact details. To be honest, I probably wouldn't notice if a submission didn't include a title page so long as the letter had the title of the work in it. And if I want to clip the pages together - lo! There are paperclips on my desk! Sometimes it's mildly annoying if the pages aren't clipped together but, really, that's my own annoyance, it comes up rarely, and I don't think worse of the author for it. Ultimately, it's your writing that matters. If you've written a great manuscript then your eventual agent is not going to remember the lack of title page and binding device. They're just going to be mightily pleased to have found you.

However, if you're still feeling really bad about it, send them an email saying, 'I just realised I didn't send a title page with my submission, nor did I clip the pages together. Please forgive the oversight.' But whatever you do, don't also include a question about how long it will take them to respond ...