Every once in a while a writer comes along that I feel sorry for, not because I'm crushing their hopes and dreams by mailing them a rejection, but because they've clearly got no clue what they're doing.
Today we got an unrequested full manuscript. This happens from time to time - usually the author tries to make it seem in the query like it was requested by being vague. (We hate that) Today the manuscript was an especially long piece of historical fiction, something like 150K. That's not totally unacceptable for historical fiction if it's a sweeping epic, by the way (Shogun must be well over 200K), but the poor guy mailed it unrequested, and it obviously cost him a fortune to do so - especially because he sent it priority from Canada.
Rubbing salt in his own wounds was his mention of using a "profesional editor" for his manuscript. There are professional editors out there who are actually professionals, and you don't know who they are. They're usually individuals who get contract work from agencies and publishing house editors who know them and are willing to shell out the money for their services. It's sort of an in-industry thing - we only contact a professional editor if we know them personally and know their track record.
He even included the recommendation letter from the editor, who was from some scam editing company in Canada. I know the pain of being tricked into "professional" editing companies. When I was sixteen, after a slew of rejections for my terrible novel, I shelled out about $600 of my Bat Mitzvah money to use the services of a company. I think it was Edit Inc. Anyway, I got the manuscript back and all they had done was change around some punctuation. They didn't mention the obvious problems with the novel, which I had written when I was thirteen and actually made very little sense because, well, I was thirteen.
These companies usually charge by the page (I think the rate I got was 5 cents a page) or by every hundred words, so this author shelled out big for the editing, which clearly did nothing for his manuscript. I'm particularly tough on historical fiction, because I have a BA in history and about half the books I read for fun are history books, and historical fiction is really a genre that requires a lot of research and if you make a mistake, I probably have enough expertise to catch it. Well, I didn't get more than three paragraphs in before the first mistake.
The story took place in Roman Britain and the main character was a rather foul-mouthed Briton. He was so foul-mouthed that he apparently had gone forward in time to learn new curse words that hadn't been invented yet. Shit is legitimately a word that predates the Norman invasion (1066), but it probably originated the Germanic tribes who fought against the Romans and didn't make it to the isle of Britain until the Anglo-Saxon invasion, when it was scitte. It didn't become schītte until Middle English developed after the Norman invasion. (Chaucer wrote in Middle English)
Fuck is another word that probably wasn't in the regular vocabulary of a first-century Briton. It also only has origins back to the Anglo-Saxons, when it was probably a different word, because by the Norman invasion it was still fuken. In other words, having the main character say, "What is the fucking problem?" denotes a serious problem - lack of research.
This guy should have spent the probably thousand bucks he dropped on editing and mailing around his huge manuscript on some history books instead.