Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Should You Say Thank You?

Today's topic comes courtesy of Rick Starkey. Rick wants to know if it's too much clutter for an editor's inbox if an author sends a thank-you after receiving a rejection, especially if it's a personalized rejection.

Now, keep in mind that I can't speak for all editors, but for me, getting thank-you emails from authors kept me going during Seek's open submissions period. I received some that simply said, "thank you for getting back to me so soon," since my typical response time was 24 hours or under. (Yes, I'm insane like that.) These emails mentioned how it was nice to get such a speedy response, even if it wasn't a favorable response. My reaction was that these authors understood how busy an editor is and appreciated that I worked so quickly to get back to them. So, I definitely liked getting these emails.

The other kind of response I got was on personalized rejections. Again, these authors were appreciative of the feedback I offered on their submissions, and a few even mentioned how rare it is to get the feedback. Showing you understand that an editor doesn't have to provide feedback but took the time to do so gets you a big gold star in my book. I really enjoyed reading these emails.

So, it's all good, right? Well, not exactly. Here's the exception. I received a few responses that began as thank-you emails and morphed into "since you were kind enough to offer feedback on this book, I have another I think you'll love" and "can I assume you'd be open to me revising based on your feedback and resubmitting?" 

Let's start with the first one. Now, it was an open submissions period, which means anyone could submit any book to me. There was no need to ask. So this email actually came across as "you see potential in me so I'm letting you know I'm sending you something else that you'll hopefully move up in your slush pile because you like me." Now, maybe that's not what the author intended, but it does come off this way to an editor, so be careful about sounding like you think you deserve special treatment. The second response is also a no-no. If an editor wants you to revise and resubmit, he or she will tell you that. Otherwise, consider it feedback to help you get the manuscript ready to send out to other editors.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

21 comments:

  1. This is great to know, Kelly. I've never sent a thank you for a rejection :) But I do for anyone who has taken the time to give feedback with a rejection. I haven't submitted a manuscript for a while but I will be in the near future. So, this is great info to have.

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    1. Yes, I should mention that there is no need to send a thank-you for a form letter rejection. But personalized rejections can absolutely merit a quick thank-you.

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  2. Thanks for providing perspective from the other side. I usually send a simple thank you after a rejection-feedback response. And note it down in my submission tracker to submit to the journal /magazine again in the future.

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    1. Yes, you should submit again if you feel an editor connected with your writing. It's great that you mark that down.

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  3. Thanks for the tips. Every group has its own etiquette, so what may seem common sense to an insider may be a source of hesitation or wrong moves for others.

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  4. I never sent thank yous to form rejections, but I did send something very brief to acknowledge a personal response. But you are right -- never assume a polite rejection is an invitation to send more material unless it says so!

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    1. Yes. Assuming can lead to taking advantage of, which is never a good thing.

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  5. Good to know. I think expressing sincere gratitude is always welcomed. It's when that gratitude comes with strings we have to caution ourselves.

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    1. Yes. Gratitude shouldn't have strings attached.

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  6. I always send a thank you. Whether they are read or not, I just appreciate hearing back. It stops the wondering.

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  7. Such a helpful post! I think the thank you is a nice idea, so it was great to hear that as an editor you appreciate receiving them. :)
    ~Jess

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  8. This was immensely enlightening to read, as I always assumed editors and agents have such deep slush piles (virtual or actual) that adding anything to it was just not good form. I always felt grateful for personal and pertinent input, and so I would thank such when I submitted something new.

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