Monday, July 21, 2008

Writer Spam and Submission letters that FAIL

Anybody else get this e-mail (Title: YOUR WORK)

Dear writer,

I find your ability to convey your ideas very refreshing. I think also that your characterizations are some of the best I've read. I think you may enjoy these flash fiction pieces I have written.

(Name removed because either this is a hoax or to spare the person, if real, public embarrassment. I'm pretty certain it's spam, though.)

This has to be spam, right? It has not one, but two attachments entitled THE PERFECT WOMAN. WPS and ABUSE AND SELF-ESTEEM.wps. (Yes, in all caps.)

Does anybody still open attachments from unknown senders? I don't care how complimentary the body of the message is--is anybody in this day and age still that naive?

And let's talk about the body of the message: "Dear writer": This person professes to love my work and its refreshing voice, but addresses me as "writer?" Please. Even a computer program could strip the @fabianspace off my address and give a more convincing "Dear Karina." Plus, I write sci-fi and fantasy--and they send me perfect woman and abuse? Yeah, said person really put some thought into what I'd like.

So, a clever spam approach FAILS.

Coincidentally, this would fail as a submission letter to an editor for the exact same reasons:

* "Dear Editor" Some magazines do say to address "editor" or "submissions editor," but in most cases, taking a few minutes to research the editor's name shows both courtesy and professionalism.

* Generic compliments do not impress an editor; they show lack of imagination or lack of research. Rather than say, "I find your magazine refreshing with some of the best stories I've ever read," compliment something specific. "I'm enjoying Jo Joeson's 'Clueless Spammaster from Beyond.' His e-mails to minions are priceless parody."

* READ THE GUIDELINES! If the mag is sci-fi, don't send fantasy. If they want a specific topic or angle, don't send something different in hopes that your brilliant prose will make them make an exception. It doesn't work that way. Editors please readers, and reader expectations drive guidelines.

* Attachments must be in a form the editor recognizes and works with. When in doubt, .rtf is pretty universal.

Incidentally, submissions to ISIG II are closed, incidentally. I've read all the stories and passed the ones I like on to my husband. However, the Air Force has other plans for his time and attention. It may be awhile.

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