December 6th, 2005

books

"Appreciation is a wonderful thing. --

-- It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well." - Voltaire

Appreciation.... thank you... etc. and so forth. There were some interesting reactions to my post the other day. People who were surprised that I might appreciate having a few thank you emails "clogging up" my inbox; people who brought to my attention that I neglected to comment in any way about the 11 people who did not reply at all... So, I thought I would suggest some straddling of the fence -- whether you are an editor, writer, agent, reader, friend, or some combination of the above. I'm listing some responses I've had to queries in the last year (and let's assume these people are getting my reportedly reasonable form rejection). Tell me how you would feel, what you would think, what (if anything) it might do to change your reaction towards the writers (oft-time strangers) querying you, either individually or as a whole.

*person who does not reply at all
*person who threatens in their query letter to send a large gift certificate for a well-known restaurant in New York if they are rejected and makes good on said threat
*person who sends a short note thanking you for your time and/or your professional response
*person who replies with a rant that conveys frustration
*person who phones to explain why you should not have form rejected them, swears you will regret it, and then asks for a list of other agents they might submit to
*person who responds by sending you a query letter for a different project
*person who sends back your form rejection with a difficult-to-decipher hand-written note in the whitespace at the bottom
*person who replies with a rant that is vitriolic and contains foul language

I'll be interested to see responses from a more general populace than the singular one of my own mind. And in the meantime, let me clarify: thank you is a nice thing to hear. When one reads over 5000 query letters a year and responds to most of them with a form letter, one does not expect a grateful and/or gratuitous reply. However, one can certainly appreciate a kindness regardless. In no way am I advocating an extra level of correspondence. People who assume that 5000 thank you notes might be intimidating, have a point. And everyone's time should be respected. I suspect some writers have a finite amount of time per day to spend on writing-related activities as they may have day-jobs and/or children to care for... Getting the next few query letters out might very well be more effective than sending a round of polite comments to editors and agents. But a few scattered here and there, if the spirit so moves you, can only spread good will. I hope I have elaborated sufficiently, and I leave you with this, which I shall also endeavor to apply in the future:

“It is not the failure of others to appreciate your abilities that should trouble you, but rather your failure to appreciate theirs.” - Confucius
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