When Unsolicited Authors Attack: 8 Ways to Make Editors Not Hate You

Who has a stalker? The "recovering editorial assistant" behind Editorial Ass has a stalker! "An unsolicited author came into our offices looking for me. I have no idea how he got my name—I'd never met him before. But he came in asking for me by name and carrying his unsolicited manuscript. Now he has somehow learned my direct [phone] line..." Some of the following rules may be obvious to you; for instance, "never show up in person at a publishing company." Also, you're gonna want to put down that phone.

Note: these very sensible suggestions are from the Editorial Ass blog, not by me. So stop sending me angry emails about the ways in which you disagree!

Rules for Not Making Editors Hate You


1) Never show up in person at a publishing company. Ever. Not unless a real person (and not an imaginary person in your head) has specifically made a date with you and asked you to come in for a meeting. Even if you are just well-meaning and happen to be in the neighborhood to drop something off, seeing an editor will make that editor feel incredibly awkward and more likely to hate you and your project. We lead crazed, frazzled existences and we don't like having to meet with people we are not expecting. Ever.


2) Don't call on the phone. Ever. Two reasons—1) The phone is bad for us, because we can't choose the timing. If you email us, we can address your issue thoughtfully and when we have time to. Plus the phone is super awkward—I always feel backed up against the wall when someone I'm not expecting to talk to is on the phone. 2) The phone is bad for you. If you get us on the phone and ask for the status and we didn't like it, we're going to have to reject it right there, on the phone with you. Also, maybe we were thinking "maybe" about your project, but now, since you've forced us to talk to you on the phone, we're suddenly thinking "no."


3) Do you have an agent? Then never, ever be personally in touch with me. The I start to feel double teamed, and on top of that, I begin to question the relationship you have with your agent. The only time I should have any contact with an agented author before a contract is signed is AFTER I tell the agent I like the project and the agent and I arrange a mutually agreeable meeting or phone call. The author should never be involved in this.


4) Know what I acquire. If you send me your manuscript and it has nothing to do with what I edit, why should I do you the courtesy of wasting my very precious free time responding to you? Seriously. There are literally thousands of hard-working people who want to get published and have done the footwork. You are not special. You wanna get published, you do it too.


5) Do not harrass my assistant. Ever. Her job is very hard. I've been there, honey. Just because she's as smart and savvy as she is does not mean she should have to deal with you and your mental issues.


6) Do not follow up the next day. Do not follow up the next week. You may follow up one month after you've submitted, but do so politely and in as unoffensive a way as possible. I'm softer toward the "I just wanted to make sure all my materials were in order and to see if there was any other information you might need" approach. The "Why haven't you looked at my manuscript yet? It's been over a month" approach? Yeah, not a favorite of mine, actually.


7) Do not leave me lengthy voicemails (although I suppose if you're calling at all I should just direct you back to #2). I just delete them without listening.


8) Do not make me take time out of my day to blog angrily because I'm SO STEAMED about how you've annoyed me and my assistant when I should, in fact, be finishing my catalog copy edits.
[Editorial Ass]