Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sending Unrequested Fulls

We don't get unrequested fulls that often, and I would say we get them less often than we used to. The reason is obvious: the cost of mail, especially media mail, has gone up considerably. Yet some dorks remain who think sending their entire 600-page manuscript overnight (with return postage) is going to impress us somehow and not be a massive waste of money.

I don't know why this is, but unrequested manuscripts are almost universally awful. It doesn't make any statistical sense, but I can't think of one that I even considered putting in the maybe pile. One arrived today. To cut down on expenses, perhaps, the author printed out the manuscript single-space and in 8-point font, only to up the weight by putting it in a really big, nice binder (which we kept because there was no return postage and she said we could keep it). The writing was terrible - just terrible. You know it's bad when a chapter is 3 paragraphs long and two of those paragraphs are single lines of dialogue.

Maybe it's a jinx or something. I don't know.

17 comments:

jsbangs said...

Not a jinx. People who can't be bothered to research standard manuscript format or read submission guidelines are too lazy to be good writers. If I were an agent (which, thank God, I'm not) an unrequested full would be an automatic rejection.

Elissa M said...

Just guessing, but it's logical to surmise anyone sending an unrequested full has no experience with the publishing world, and consequently little to no experience with writing commercially publishable novels. Thus, your experience of unrequested manuscripts being almost universally poorly written is only to be expected.

kirsten saell said...

People who would send an unrequested full haven't done their research into the submissions process. And if they haven't bothered to research that, why would they bother wasting their valuable time learning their way around language or honing their craft?

So it does make statistical sense.

Kim Kasch said...

8 pt font - sheesh! I have trouble with 14 :(

Kristin Laughtin said...

8 point? Did this person really think this strategy would work? Even if I'd never researched query guidelines, I'd still think hurting an agent's eyes would be a bad idea.

The second-to-last sentence sounds like a challenge. I really want to try to write a good 3 paragraph chapter where two paragraphs are just single lines of dialogue now. (Of course, I believe anything can be done well, even if it isn't 99.99% of the time.) It had better be some damn good dialogue, though.

Irate Teacher said...

Wow. Just wow. Hey, maybe if you throw that manuscript 9loose, of course) in the dryer for a few hours on high, it'll be soft enough for a baby's bottom...y'know so that whatever a parent puts on the page can match what the author put on it.

pegasus358 said...

As a fellow literary agent assistant who recently received an unrequested full manuscript (with no SASE), I fully agree with your sentiments.

In fact, I pretty much agree with all your sentiments and sometimes wonder if you're me.

Kim said...

full manuscript.

8 point font.

in a binder???

I want some of whatever that writer's smoking...

Jessica said...

I think jsbangs is probably right. People who send unrequested fulls have not researched the market and most likely have not researched the craft. Maybe they're not even lazy. It's probably their first book, slaved over for months, maybe years, and when they're finished they don't realize that they're not finished.
So that's what I think. But of course, they did enough research to know where to send the manuscript. It does make me wonder.

thedailyelephant said...

well, hello. i'm new around here. {awkward silence} not sure how i stumbled across this site, but i kinda like it. this post makes me so terribly discouraged. i just purchased a skid of 3-ring binders and was sitting down to compile a full for every listing in the Writer's Market. oh well.

The Rejecter said...

DailyElephant,

Don't be discouraged. Just be happy this is your last copy of Writer's Market, because everyone should own one and not more. All of the information necessary is available online. Visit agentquery.com for up-to-date information and only send what they request and maybe 5 pages.

Anonymous said...

When I was completely new and green to the publishing process (back in the early Nineties), I sent out complete manuscripts to agents -- single-spaced, no less, in Arial font -- because that's what I thought I was supposed to do.

And yet I received detailed, helpful comments and suggestions for improvement in return.

I'm not so naive any more, and I send out query letters, synopses and sample chapters -- all properly formatted, all meticulously edited. And for the most part, I'm only getting form rejections, just like everyone else.

Make of it what you will.

Megoblocks said...

Then again, consider the chapter, "My mother is a fish."

thedailyelephant said...

rejector,

i thought i should at least mention i wasn't really serious about that. come on, that would be like 5 billion fulls... you must think i 'm crazy. but seriously, thanks for the advice though, i haven't started querying yet, but i think i get the jist of how it goes. i'm working on non-fiction -sort of a memoir if you will. i realize that is a bit different so its kind of hard to figure out exactly how to approach it.

Jill Sorenson said...

~In fact, I pretty much agree with all your sentiments and sometimes wonder if you're me.~

Haha. I like this blog, Rejecter. Your tagline is very funny.

Barbara Martin said...

This is certainly a reminder for writers to follow the agents' guidelines. I would not have considered that people actually sent unrequested material in a binder. How embarrassing for them to read about it in your blog post, even though you haven't named them.

Heather said...

Do you really think that the person in question reads this blog? Such behavior smacks of a complete and total lack of knowledge of the agent in question... and since this blog has no link to the agent, the odds of this clueless soul actually reading it here are slim to none.

And maybe, just maybe, if they DO read it... they'll realize what a boneheaded thing they just did, and not do it again.