01 April 2008

It Was Mary Something, I Think

Ron at Media Bistro's Galley Cat ran a couple of brief items last week about Editorial Departments responding to some author submissions with letters signed by fake names. [Yet another.] In one he wrote:

one reader assures me, sending out rejection letters under false names, in the hopes of avoiding long, tiresome correspondence with would-be writers, really has happened--at at least one company.
Indeed, the use of a business pseudonym for some rejection letters was a policy at the publishing company where I started to work in 1987. Can I recall the fake name now? No, it was supposed to be generic and unmemorable. But if I heard it, I'd immediately remember.

I was told, but can't vouch for, the story that one persistent author kept asking for that non-existent editor so many times that some female Editorial Assistant was drafted to portray her for the length of a phone conversation.

I didn't use the name much, if at all. A few years later we phased out that policy. The volume of slush, especially after some of our titles hit the New York Times bestseller list, eventually forced us to adopt a checklist response to most unsolicited submissions. And I left ten years ago.

I can vouch that:
  • Some hopeful authors come to publishing company offices to meet with editors despite having no appointments--or, for that matter, words on paper.
  • Some hopeful authors have severe mental difficulties. One caller wanted to write about a friend who he knew was a vampire--he'd seen the man's fangs just as clearly as he'd earlier seen Christ holding a plastic lamb in a meadow.
  • These two categories can easily overlap.

1 comment:

MotherReader said...

I did not know that trick of publishers, though I can't blame them, I guess. I'm not sure that I'd want my name out there on hundreds of rejection letters.