Author Beware: Do Your Homework

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 09 2006

Over the years, as an editor and agent, I have built a pretty good-sized author beware file. This file is made up of interesting and usually angry letters and emails from authors. Often they are in response to rejections or other correspondence we’ve had. No matter what the situation, the letters always give me insight into the personality and professionalism of the author, letting me know that this is not someone I want to work with. From time to time I’m going to dig out one of those letters and post some of what was said. And, of course, I’m going to comment.

There are few comments for this letter because, to be honest, there just isn’t much to say. . . .

Hey, Kim. I’m running to the post office with hard copy requested by Jessica Faust and Jacky Sach, who both requested the proposal and sample chapters. With your “editor” title, I’m assuming you’re da boss of dem and I should just save the postage. Am I right?

Seriously?! There are so many things wrong with this letter that I don’t even know where to start. The first is that this author clearly emailed Jacky, at the general BookEnds account (, which Kim got to answer that day, and me. So did she really plan to send a proposal to all three of us? An obvious example of why you only target one agent and do your homework first. I’m pretty sure that this particular author was automatically rejected.


15 responses to “Author Beware: Do Your Homework”

  1. Avatar jfaust says:

    Sorry, there was a typo in my post that I wanted to clear up. The author emailed all three of us–Jacky, me and the general BookEnds account which Kim was in charge of that day. Since it was interesting enough obviously we all three requested it. Hope that makes better sense.


  2. Avatar Bernita says:

    “Hey, Kim….”

  3. Avatar jessberry says:

    Da boss of dem? Oh, my.

  4. Avatar Shan says:

    I’m with jessberry… “Da boss of dem.” LOL

    Are you serious?

  5. Avatar Rudy says:

    That’s not even “homework.” That is common sense 101. Wow. Things like this really happen? I can’t imagine.

  6. Avatar elysabeth says:

    I thought it was funny, she already became “personal” with the editors on a request. Okay, so if Kim read the email and requested a hardcopy, and then Jacky read the email or a different email? Then Jessica got the same query? Hum, sounds like someone who really doesn’t care about her work. I’m not even to the point of seeking an agent for myself but have been helping a friend and she has definitely been doing her homework, or I should say, I’ve been researching and doing homework for her – lol –

    (Jessica, be on the lookout, she sent a query to you yesterday – E 🙂

  7. Avatar Chris Redding says:

    It boggles the mind.
    I have a new respect for what agents go through!

  8. Avatar 2readornot says:

    Certainly it helps you all know who’s committed to a career, and who isn’t! I can’t imagine a professional acting like that and expecting anything good to come of it!

  9. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Some people deal with stressful situations in ways that most of us might consider inappropriate. Like too familiar? Perhaps this is the case here. A faux pas??

  10. Avatar jolinn says:

    it is kind of scary

  11. Avatar Chumplet says:

    Submission errors aside, sometimes people just figure that email is supposed to be less formal than the usual snail mail business letter. This writer probably made that mistake and just took the familiarity a little too far.

    I wonder if agents and editors keep a file of good letters as well as bad ones.

  12. What bothers me about it isn’t the unprofessional tone (although that bothers me) as the implication that in the writer’s mind, Jacky and Jessica are underlings and not worth the writer’s time.

    The tone is just wrong…it’s the attitude that’s insulting.

  13. Avatar jfaust says:


    To answer your question…yes. I have a huge file (actually bigger than author beware) of people I’ve tracked through the years. Submissions that were almost there, but not quite. Some of them have come back and are now clients and many others have sold work through other agents or on their own. And others, I’m still watching and waiting.


  14. Avatar Chumplet says:

    Of course you’d have a bigger file of positive and promising submissions. It would be silly to assume that the only ones you kept were the icky ones. I’m just glad you keep them.

    Plus, the nasty letter file has to be tiny because you ladies are so open minded and helpful.

  15. Avatar Anonymous says:

    This is a little off track, but do agents/publishers ever look at the return address of a query/submission and say to themselves ‘this guy can’t possibly be a good writer because he lives in Podunk, Texas’? Are we stereotyped by where we live?