As an aspiring author, I spend a lot of time reading blogs and articles devoted to the publishing biz. What I run into repeatedly is a great list of mistakes that folks looking for an agent or editor make; yes, each of these blog posts and articles usually talk about the same mistakes with very little variation. And everytime, I think “Nah, folks CANT be that stupid; they can’t SERIOUSLY do stuff like that!”
Then I recieve an email like this one from – oh, let’s be nice and call him “Bob”:
Subject: An article that might interest your readers…
From: *ahem* Bob@freemail.com *ahem
I am the author of this article you have my permission to use it free of charge as long as you keep the post script intact. If you have any questions reply to this email with your questions. Thanks
Attached to this missive is a Word Document containing aforementioned article.
Problems, Issues & Errors, not necessarily in order or importance, more likely in chronological order or in the order in which my mind concocts them:
1. The Subject Line – As generic and spammy as it is, “Bob” is lucky I didn’t delete this without a second thought. If you’re going to submit to any publication or editor, read their submission policy. Many require a specific subject line be used for that very reason.
2. The From – Notice that the email address contains the name of the author. (I changed the name to protect the ignorant, but in reality, the originating email address contained a full first and last name). Now notice the signature in the body of the email. That’s right – a screen name. Better yet, an uncapitalized, misspelled, IM or text version of a screen name. I cannot begin to stress how unprofessional this is.
3. The To – Our bands@ email address is for – shock! – bands and publicists to use to request reviews of their material. A cursory review of Score! Music would’ve told him how to contact the Content Editor. Always Read The Submission Policy.
4. The Salutation – it doesn’t exist. This means “Bob” didn’t bother to find out WHO the Content Editor Was. He found a random email address somewhere in the vastness of the ‘net and threw some correspondence together.
5. The Email Itself – Lack of Punctuation does not lead me to believe that “Bob”‘s article will be a ratings’ booster. Nor does the fact that it says nothing about him, his writing credentials, or why the hell I should bother opening the Word Document at all. All query letters (and yes, that’s the proper term for what “Bob” sent me here) should contain an introduction to the writer, the article in question and why the writer thinks the article would be a good fit for the magazine.
6. We Don’t Accept Unsolicited Material. “Bob” would know this if he had READ THE SUBMISSION POLICY.
7. The article sucks. Good and truly sucks canal water, as my SO might say. Grammer, punctuation, capitalization and spelling errors abound; the attempts at snark and humor fall flat’ and quite frankly, the content is not informative, but insulting and patronizing to the “wannabe musicians” he’s addressing.
8. “Bob” did not submit this article because he thought Score! Music Magazine was a cool space on the ‘net and he had something worthwhile to contribute to its readers. No, based on the “postscript” (as he calls it; I think the more appropriate term is Advertisement), Bob has plucked something more fitting to his own personal blog than an actual publication for public consumption and spammed God-knows-how-many music related websites to promote HIS website and HIS “program” for “artists” to achieve “economic freedom”. We’re all in the business of marketing something, even if it’s just ourselves, but the trick (if there is one) is that to GET something of value, one has to GIVE something of value. This is something that “Bob” obviously doesn’t understand.
So, editors and agents alike, I apologize for overestimating the intelligence and competence of aspiring writers. I am now humbly reminded that yes, people are that stupid. But the bigger question is – why do the rest of us who actually follow directions have such a hard time getting your attention?