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10 ways to make editors hate you before they know you


November 29, 2009 by John Hewitt 

You wouldn’t think that writers would want to make editors hate them. Unfortunately, judging by terrible submissions writers keep sending in, that must be the goal. Always one to give guidance, even when it is bad guidance, I offer this short guide to making editors hate you.

Don’t get to the point. Editors are very busy. When they read a query letter or a submission cover, what they really want to know is what you are proposing and how it fits their needs. The longer you can keep yourself from telling them that, the better your chances of getting an editor to hate you.

Don’t use enough postage. Guess what? No one is going to pay the mailman just to see your submission. If you really want to aggravate an editor, send your submissions via certified mail and make them sign for it.

Get the editor’s name wrong. There’s no quicker way to get on an editor’s bad side than to misspell their name. This is a great way to get your query letter thrown away before it even gets opened. While you’re at it, get their title wrong too. That should ensure a quick trip to the garbage can.

Ignore the editor’s needs. Send the editor of an arts journal an article about ways to avoid a hangover. Send your proposal for a microwave recipe book to a publisher specializing in historical fiction. It may not quite make the editor hate you, but it will certainly be good for a laugh.

Insult other people’s work. The book you’re proposing? It’s way better than any other book in the genre and the editor should know that. Take the time to insult the competition. If you get lucky, you may just insult something the editor has worked on in the past. That should really tick them off.

Send the editor a letter that stinks. Chances are, your proposal will stink anyway. What I mean is send them one that smells bad. Smoke while you write it, or scent it with perfume. While you’re at it, use an obnoxious paper color like pink or orange. Make your query as unpleasant to smell as it is to read.

Talk money. Make it clear in the first few sentences that you expect a certain amount of money for your efforts and you will accept nothing less. Whether your demands are in the editor’s range or not doesn’t matter. Your demands will make them hate you either way.

Tell the editor how much your friends and family love your work. If you’re really out to convince the editor that you know next to nothing about the publishing industry, including the opinions of people the editor doesn’t know and has no reason to respect ought to do it.

Try to sound cocky and sarcastic. You know you’ve got the goods, why should you try to be polite and businesslike? This should make it clear to the editor just how big of a hassle it will be to work with you. Note: Feel free to use this article as a guide.

Use a cheap printer, or better yet, a typewriter. Nothing screams “not worth the effort to read” more than poorly printed, smudged text.

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