But Why Would You… Insult Writers Like This?

This post, by Dean Wesley Smith, originally appeared on his site on 11/29/11.


A few weeks back, while out of town, I got a form letter from a traditional publisher in my SASE. Normal for writers, right? I get form letters all the time and they honestly don’t bother me.

Except I mailed the novel to that editor exactly TWO YEARS ago.


Who the hell do these editors think we are out here anyway?  Wow, talk about insulting to all writers. I was stunned. Did the idiot editor really think I still cared or was tracking my little submission to her after TWO YEARS?

Flash to editors: Treat this like a business, like writers are in business and your partners. I can see no reason why you would ever insult a writer like that by assuming we still cared while you screwed around for two years. You really are not the centers of the universe.

Two Years Ago… In Another Age of Publishing

Let me tell you the fun story of how this submission to this stupid editor came about in the first place. You might have guessed…from another challenge.

Starting on November 1st, 2009, a friend of mine and I decided to do a challenge and see how many novels we could get in the mail to publishers. (Remember, this was before the world actually changed for most of us. Traditional publishing was still the only real choice just two short years ago, even though Konrath and others were starting to shout about the coming new world.)

I put a new book in the mail every Monday morning to five different editors for three full months.

Thirteen different novels in thirteen weeks. (Then I had to stop and actually write another novel under contract.)

Now, before you scream, hold on and let me explain.

I didn’t write thirteen books. I just wrote the first fifty-or-so pages of each book, did a five-to-ten page synopsis of the entire novel, did a cover letter, and mailed the package with a #10 SASE. Easy to do in one week, actually. Like writing a short story per week, only with a ton more plotting. (grin)

It was great fun and I came up with some books I still want to write. Oh, and yeah, I sold two of the books and almost sold a third, but the sales force of the company couldn’t figure out how to market it. Go figure. Stunning what mailing books to editors can do for you.

Just stunning.

And can you imagine me doing that through an agent? (snort…choking with laughter at my own joke…sorry)

Here is what I did on the mailing side.

— Eight of the books were under three different and brand new pen names, but in every cover letter I told the editor who I was and gave my credentials.

— Two of the books were to specific editors for certain projects and those I sold, both as ghost novels, since the editors liked the writing and the idea.

— Three of the novels were under this DWS name which did no good at all. (grin)

— I mailed nine of the books to five editors for each book. Most of the time I told Kris I had finished a certain type of novel package and she just gave me five editors she thought might be right.

—I didn’t send any novel submission to any editor I actually knew.

— I never sent any of the novels to more than the first five editors. In other words, I never kept the books in the mail as I tell other writers to do. (I plan on writing a few of the novels now as indie published books.)

— On one book (beside the two special-project books) I only sent one package out because, to be honest, I didn’t want to write the book. (Got bored with it before I finished the submission package and mailed it to an editor only because of the challenge.)

— So the total number of novel submission packages I mailed in thirteen weeks was fifty-three. All different editors. No repeats.

Here are the basics of the responses I got.


Read the rest of the post, which covers the responses received and includes a set of guidelines for writer submissions, on Dean Wesley Smith’s site.