Funny story with this one. When I got this email, I thought he/she was pulling my leg, so I actually emailed back and asked, "Are you serious?" and he/she said they were. Unfortunately he/she also asked me to be kind, so I will be.
I'd like your advice, and as a favor, please give me your advice with the understanding that I am a very good writer, capable of conquering the world with my words. I have nothing to show for myself except an insightful manuscript, freakishly well-written, with such exquisite craftsmanship you wouldn't see outside the boarders of eighteenth century Europe, though is it possible for me to get published in The New Yorker? I'm nineteen years old, and, I think this is relevant, very good-looking. (I don't know if I should say that on my cover letter.) Is the slushpile a meritocracy, is what I'm asking. Assuming I am the most talented writer in the world, what then should I do?
Okay. I need a second to breathe here.
....AND I'm done. All right. All right. I'm up to this. Something positive.
1. For your information and everyone else's, you are not going to be published in the New Yorker unless you know someone who works in the fiction section of the New Yorker or your agent does or your publisher does. Most of the pieces that are placed in the New Yorker are either by established short fiction writers that have already won a ton of international awards and/or are getting published to promote the short story collection that's coming out at the same time, and the publishing house pulled some strings to get the story in.
2. I know you are the greatest writer in the world, but that said, you might want to do a little double-check on your grammar before sending an email to someone who would catch things like comma splices.
3. For your information and again for everyone else's, it does not matter how attractive you are. In fact, most fiction authors are not very attractive, especially in fantasy. After all, writing is not usually paired with exercising. It's a very stationary activity. Also, fantasy authors usually own a a lot of cats and have a beard.
4. I'm not saying people aren't published at 19, but it's rare. Generally writers who have been writing all their lives reach some level of maturity in their 20's, and are embarrassed about anything they wrote before. Yes, yes, the Eragon guy was 17 or whatever. You know what? Eragon sucked. There, I said it.
5. I don't know what this business about 18th-century Europe is, but actually, a lot of great literature has been written either after the 1700s or outside Europe. In the "outside Europe" category, you have the Popol Vul, the writings of Virgil, the writings of Plato and Socrates, The Tale of Genji, and Homer's Greek epics, to name a few. In the "post-1700's" category I would put pretty much everything that's been written in English except Chaucer and Shakespeare. Austen, Dickens, Joyce, Faulkner, Hemingway, ... If you don't recognize all those titles, you have a lot of reading ahead of you.