Friday, April 07, 2006

The Sound You Hear... me banging my head against my desk.
Or you would hear a repetitive thump-thump, if I were a head-banger.

Earlier this week, in a flush of false courage engendered by your kind words and by Joe Konrath's up-and-at-em nag, I looked up an on-line magazine.

They wanted nice, brief submissions.
Word count - check.
This was their submission period.
Acceptable types and topics.
I printed out their submission guidelines.
I read them five times.
I can do this, I thought.
I managed to convert my e-mail to plain text though I'm functionally internet illiterate.
I typed in the story.
I typed in the other requirements.
Made neat little check-marks on my guidelines.
Like many publishers, they made it painfully clear they got seriously annoyed by grammar and spelling mistakes.
Went over the submission forty-seven times for that.
(That's probably an exaggeration - it was likely only about seventeen times.)
I pressed my damp little forefinger on "Send."
Then I went to my e-mail program to check if the frightened little thing really, really did launch its little self into the black endless void of cyberspace.
There it was -" sent items."
Click to mentally fondle my triumph over dither.
You know what a frozen half-formed smile looks like.
There, malevolent, indelible, irretrievable, in the very FIRST line was a typo.
"He" instead of "her."
I think I shall go eat worms.

I expect they will trash it.
I certainly will not blame them in the slightest if they do.
C'mon, a mere 500 words and it has a frigging typo?
No wonder editors ring-rang about sloppy submissions.
And I've just contributed in my slight way to the body of evidence.
At best I expect a one word reply.
And it will flash forever at the top of my monitor.

Please, please, do you have any stories of dumb, stupid, idiot things you have done when sending a submission?
Worms are icky.


Erik Ivan James said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erik Ivan James said...

Don't beat yourself up! I'm not going to even attempt to quote her; but I read something over on Miss Snark's where she said something about a small amount of human error not being an issue. After all, none of us are perfect.

I suspect it will get "trashed" only if it doesn't fit with the kind of material they are looking for. Don't set aside any space on your monitor for the flashing "IDIOT" sign.

And, no, I don't have any such stories to tell because I haven't pushed the "submit" button yet.

James Goodman said...

I wouldn't be too hard on yourself.

These things happen. The trick is to learn from them.

If it makes you feel any better. I was preparing a batch of five e-queries to send out and realized one of them, though it had the right name and information in the first paragraph, had a HUGE mistake in it. I had the name and pertinent information about the agent before her on the list tucked neatly between the real 1st chapter and 2nd chapter.

Have a great day!

Bernita said...

At least you caught it before it went out, James.

Erik, then use this as a cautionary example. Don't send anything out until - like the tale of the copy editor for LIFE - you've put a tiny invisible pencil mark under EVERY WORD.

Savannah Jordan said...

Oh, hell yeah, I've pulled idiot moves. When I started writing in 2000, I queried agents online. I didn't even know, that that time, what a gorram query was! "Can you help me? I've written a short story that everybody likes."

I made every idiot mistake in that first round that was possible. Thank gawd someone took pity on me and actually looked at the story and saw talent.

One typo isn't enough to eat worms. If it is, I need to find a Bait Shop!!

Carla said...

I doubt they'll be too bothered, to be honest. I haven't got a personal anecdote, but a colleague once sent some highly confidential data to the wrong client, and didn't get sacked for it.

Dennie McDonald said...


that's okay - next time you you'll catch it!

good for you B!

Dennie McDonald said...

see - shee-it typo in my post

only half into first cup and after yesterday... I need a gallon!

Bernita said...

~Dennie just did that to make me feel better~
Yes, I did actually submit, didn't I?

But you did those things out of honest innocence, Savannah - I don't have that excuse.I know about checking for typos and spellings.

I imagine it was so rare a thing, Carla, that they therefore excused it.

Ric said...

How long do you have?

The worst was getting two requests for a full manuscript on the same day. Quick trip to the copy store, two identical boxes, two specially crafted cover letters...

put into the wrong boxes.

Both agents commented on the faux pas and, ultimately, passed.

But I don't think it affected their decision - these were not exclusives.

as Miss Snark says - the writing trumps all.

Much ado about nothing, Bernita. Don't get your knickers in a knot.

Bernita said...

You think I should put down the blunt instrument, Ric?
I suppose.
Live and learn. Try for next time.
It's an object lesson, nevertheless.
Editors and agents constantly go on about this sort of thing. They are so overwhelmed by quantity it doesn't take much to heave-ho.
Sure, they may miss
"your" good writing, but there's lots of "good writing" out there by people who managed to catch their typos.

BTW, JAMES has a good, nasty piece of blood 'n guts flash up on his blog.

December Quinn said...

I subbed a short (which was accepted) and realized after I sent the query I'd forgotten to attach the actual file.

I quickly sent another email apologizing and attaching it.

Bernita said...

Understandable and easily correctable, December.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Yup. Entered a story in a contest, noticed afterwards first line had a type.

That would be the one that got an honourable mention in The Cynic's Online Not-so-cynical Christmas contest - there's a link to it on my site (Breaking the Christmas Curse).

Other evidence of stupidity? When I submitted my SC manuscript to my publisher, I left in my husbands comments on the word doc file.

And here's an email I got not too long ago.

Hello! I got led to your online magazine on a tip, and it looks like a great resource. I'm excited to check it out. I wonder, though, if this first sentence on your home page is a typo?

The writing industry is often as difficult to penetrate as an emerging writer.

The first "as" makes it sound like emerging writers are virgins on prom night. :) Hope I'm not offending--the ezine overall looks fantastic and like it fills an important gap in the publishing industry.

Bonnie Calhoun said...

Hmmmm....An ID 10 T error....LOL...It will be alright! ((hugs)) I've done the exact same's even better to notice it right as your finger presses the SEND key!

December Quinn said...

The writing industry is often as difficult to penetrate as an emerging writer.


Depends on how far the writer has emerged, I imagine...:-)

Sela Carsen said...

I mispelled the word "invitation" in my query letter to Samhain. And I don't know how many s's are in the word misspelled. Nope. They both look wrong.

For The Trees said...

Actually, I've found worms to be an excellent source of protein. Which is good because at the local bait shop a large bucket of nightcrawlers is only $1.25, whereas a steak at the grocery store is $7.64. No contest. The only difference is recipe.

My best recipe is sending a query and not putting the agent's name on it. I had held off because I wasn't sure of the spelling, then forgot to put it on the letter. Dumber'n snot.

So I'm well acquainted with Worms Alfredo. You can make it up right at your desk, just use some of that White-Out that's languishing in the bottom drawer. Tasty.

Bernita said...

I have Mirriam-Webster bungee-corded to my wrist, Sela.
After one is on-line, after while even words one once knew how to spell look wrong.

Sandra, that one is priceless.
Maybe they'll be tolerant, but I'm not counting on it.
I'll be left wondering: Was it crap? Or was it because of the blatant error?
I guess you've managed to point out it's probably will be because it's crap.

Bonnie, that's when you scream "Come BAAACK!"

Bernita said...

We can trade recipes, Forrest!
How about saute in garlic butter?

M. G. Tarquini said...

Yep. Have made lots of dumb dumb stupid mistakes when querying. Tons and tons of them.

Bernita said...

Not sure I believe that, Mindy.

Lady M said...

I put the words "See below for synopsis"

And didn't include it.

Sigh - Been there B... It's hilarious later on...

Hugs bunches - and no worries - your talent shows through!

Lady M

Bernita said...

Sweet of you, Lady M.
Felt such a thoroughgoing idiot, but confession is good for the soul.

archer said...

Don't feel bad. A relative of mine knew a really heavy-duty agent, a representative of superstars, and as a personal favor to my relative this superstar agent read some of my first novel, a novel that sucked so bad that if you attached a hose to it you could vacuum up the Gobi Desert. Why couldn't I have waited? Oh, well.

ali said...

I once forgot to include a query letter. They sent it back without a rejection slip :).

And like Dennie said, at least you submitted it!

I feel kind of better about my mistake after reading some of these. At least I'm not the only one!

Kim said...

Well, this isn't exactly an writing blunder but I once made a million dollar mistake on a corporate contract (yep, the company I was working for ate it).
After that, all my other mistakes look quite minor.

M. G. Tarquini said...

Not sure I believe that, Mindy.

Why not?

Bernita said...

Because even I, Mindy, as choice Idiot Girl of the week, have not committed "tons."
~ visualizing a warehouse stuffed with discarded queries, novels~

That would lend itself to a certain context I think, Kim...~wild-eyed at the thought of million dollar mistakes~

Yes, Ali, I was looking for company in my misery.Glad examples help.

Now that really smarts, Archer. An opportunity/contact wasted prematurely. On the other hand, one can only make a decision based on the data available, and not knock yourself for what seemed like a good idea at the time.Hindsight being perfect and all that.

For The Trees said...

Sad to say, my hindsight is usually covered by my pants. So I just keep on keepin' on. Can't look back - there's too many years of events to be rued. So I don't. I just eat worms as a delicacy, instead of as a punishment.

Nightcrawlers sauteed in garlic butter sounds delicious, but don't you have to go into the kitchen to do that? Problem there is, you're away from your monitor and the insistent reminder that you NEED to eat worms. I do all my worming right here in the hot seat.

I tried Nightcrawlers avec Cafe Au Lait this morning. Not too bad, as long as the Cafe is strong and the Au Lait is thick.

Fresh garlic would've helped, but I don't have any sitting around.

I **DO** have one of those small bottles of Pumpkin Spice on my desk, though. I have no idea how it got here, but I'm gonna try that tomorrow with the worms. Can't hurt anything but my ego.

Anonymous said...

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