Yesterday I got a note from a wanna-be writer. Coincidentally, one of my best cyber friends got one, too. Leann's note was from a young girl who had written TWO PAGES of her first book and wanted a LOT of advice on how to write and finish her book. After TWO PAGES. From her Facebook page, she appears to be a teenager. So ... Leann can be a bit more forgiving. (Although when she turned the girl down, she wasn't in the same mood.)
The one I got was a bit different. The woman jumped right in and said, "It appears that you are a successful author as well as a cat lover."
Well, I'm no Nora Roberts, but three times on the Times list, yeah, I'd say I'm doing okay. But that's not my beef.
Here was a person who apparently had a finished writing a book she wants to send to an agent. But ... that first sentence told me a lot. First, she never addressed me by name. Second, she's never read any of my work. Third, she wants me to give her the names of 10+ agents. Lastly, she didn't sign her note. I only know a woman wrote the note because her name is part of her email.
So, how does one handle these kinds of notes?
First, I'm always tempted to use the opportunity as a teaching moment. Only in this case, I'm irked enough that the note might be harsher than it needs to be. Starting out with something like "What were you thinking, turkey lips?" But then I'd be just as unprofessional as she is.
Nope, in this case I employed the delete key.
Here's another time I (and just about every author I know) will employ the delete key. It's a note that starts out: "Our school (library, disease-of-the-week, glee club, sanitation department) is having an auction fundraiser and we would love one (or more) of your signed books."
Nowhere in the note will the hopeful fundraiser mention my work or my name(s).
I used to be a sucker and send a book. Now? Nope.
It's not that I don't care about schools and libraries--I do, passionately. But I don't have hundreds of free books lying around the house. My publisher gives me a few and I do give them away, but anything else I have--I have to buy. Just because they're made of paper doesn't mean they grow on trees. I receive a couple of these notes EVERY week. There's no way I could afford to help them all. (And that postage mounts up, too.) And if these hopeful fundraisers can't even use my name, that means they've gotten my name from a list and are sending out blanket emails just hoping for a hit. A little like telemarketing. I'm not a big fan of telemarketing, either.
I give to charity. A lot. Every time I get a royalty check I send money to at least three charities. Yesterday I wrote out three and there's another on my list for today. (Japan Relief. Can you imagine what survivors in those northern seaside towns are going through? They've lost their loved ones and they have NOTHING. NOTHING. No home, no clothing, and they don't know where their next meal is coming from.
I've already given money, and now that my royalties have come in for last year, I'm going to send some more to the Red Cross Japan Relief.)
I guess I should have written this for yesterday and Pet Peeve Thursday. Oops a day late.
What do you think of these kinds of notes and the motives behind them?