FOR WRITERS: Five Emails You Should Avoid Sending to an Editor

Quill and InkHere are five common emails that you should avoid sending to an editor. I do believe I’ve received variations on each of these at least twenty-five times a year. Just by a little research, or using a smattering of common sense, you can help an editor stay just on the right side of sane.

1) Where are your guidelines?
Undoubtedly, this is the most common email I receive from writers on a day-to-day basis. I don’t believe I’m hiding our guidelines (as of this writing, they’re posted conspicuously at the top right-hand side of the site—both the book and magazine sites). Though, come to think of it, it might be amusing to make the link to the submissions page ‘jump’ whenever the mouse pointer floats over it.

2) Mass submission email.
These are emails where the writer has sent his submission to ten different publishers at the same time. I can’t help but find this practice to be rather obnoxious. The author of the email scores double tacky points if they leave the other editors’ email addresses in the CC field with mine. At the very least, be polite enough to dump all our addresses into the BCC field so that others won’t know that I was also unlucky enough to receive the same spam.

The irony here is that many publications don’t like sim-subs (particularly for short fiction).

3) The “Please Withdraw My Story I’ve Sold It Somewhere Better, Somewhere Bigger” email.
Here’s another that’s especially annoying. First, remember, there’s that whole ‘No Simultaneous Submissions” rule that Apex has (and most others, as well). Second, these emails are invariably snide, neener-neener-neener affairs.

“Dear Mr. Sizemore,

Since Apex neglected to review or publish my story in a timely fashion, another publication has picked it up. It will be published in Wanker SF 4TheLuvZine. I’m sorry you missed an opportunity to publish my work.


Crankypants McGee”

4) The “Why Did You Reject My Story, My Writer Friend Says the Story is AWESOME?” email.
Sometimes our friends can be our worst enemies, telling us only what we want to hear. And if your friend hasn’t been published at least once or twice in professional-level publications, then they probably don’t have the aptitude to accurately judge your work (and that’s assuming they can distance themselves from the work on a personal, friendship level).

Also, if you’re thinking of composing one of these emails, you have to ask yourself the question: If you don’t value or trust the judgment of the editor, why send him/her your work? Do you think an editor who has read thousands of submissions and headed a publication for five years will have a better grip on what works in their publication better than your friend? Eh, probably not. What about an editor who is putting together an anthology with a specific vision in mind? Eh, probably not.

Though I won’t lie… despite being an editor and publisher, I can’t help but ALWAYS disagree when another editor rejects my work! 🙂

5) The Big Publishing Sucks emails.
This is one of my least favorite types of email to receive. It goes something like this:

“Dear Mr. Sizemore,

I am sending you a synopsis and three-chapter sample of my SF novel Space Vixens in Space. I’m tired of waiting for the “big publishers in New York” while they publish the same tired shit over and over at the same time neglecting the genius of independent spirits such as myself.


Knickers-n-a-Knot McGee”

If you’re going to submit something to me, don’t be whiny. I hate whiny. Most others hate whiny. You’re also showing your conspiratorial ignorance believing that being published requires membership into a special club, or that your work is too special to be included with that of other successful writers. I’ve found that being published requires talent, blind luck, and being ready to seize the moment when blind luck happens. There are always exceptions to the rule, but this is how most of my writing friends did it.

There are many more emails that I see over and over. But a guy has to have content for a blog, so the love needs to be spread over time…