02 January 2008

Illiterate wannabes

First day back at work and the nutty emails are flowing in already. This landed in my inbox today:

I'm a songwriting I can write all sorts of stuff, the book will contain verse's, poems, etc etc... I want my words to touch the world, I am lyrically blessed and I would like to have my work published. So if you can be of any help in any way I would be most grateful.
PS.I live in the XXX area..

This was the second mail I'd had from this person. The first - almost identical - arrived a few weeks ago. I decided it couldn't possibly be serious so I deleted it unanswered. I almost left this one unanswered too, but it dawned on me that I'd probably get bombarded for the next year. So I hastily typed a reply, in which I set out my rates and hoped I'd put this person off as much as possible.

These sort of enquiries are never worth bothering with. The wannabe author invariably has an over-inflated opinion of their work (the one above needs serious copy-editing), no money and expects publishers to be queuing up to print their illiterate ramblings. Fortunately, mention of rates is usually enough to put them off - the realisation that it will cost them at least the price of a bottle of decent single malt for even 1 hour of my precious time can come as a shock to the system.

2008's off to a great start then...


Juliet said...

Ha ha, I do so agree! Most people who've been labouring over their magnum opus for half their life haven't the slightest idea that 'just tweaking it into publishable form' is likely to take someone else days, or weeks, or possibly even months of time and expertise, and that all those hours come at a price. They are usually aghast when fees are mentioned and (thankfully) go away. The ones who don't need reminding, constantly, that turning their manuscript into something worth submitting to an agent or publisher is in no way a guarantee that it will EVER be accepted for publication by a traditional publisher. Self-publishing is the only route for many people and even then, an inflated estimate of potential sales usually has to be tempered by knocking several noughts off the envisaged number of eager potential purchasers. I am all for encouraging hidden talents and for helping people pursue their dreams, and getting unlikely-looking but worthwhile books into print can be hugely rewarding (over and above the fee) but . . . you are right that some wannabes simply aren't worth bothering with and should be encouraged to shove off!

Hope you receive some more inspiring emails shortly!

Unknown said...


I'm currently advising a local business person about publishing a book on being an entrepreneur. So far it's just been a couple of 15-minute phone chats but at least he is serious and following my advice. He rang today to say he'd bought a copy of the Writers' and Artists' Handbook (at my suggestion) to look for suitable agents, and just wanted answers to a couple of small questions about sending manuscripts.

That's the difference...