Sunday, May 24, 2009

Do you know what "polite" means?

Polite does NOT mean you follow a rule no matter what.
For example, in the presence of people who eat fried chicken with their hands, you don't ask for and use a fork because "polite people eat with a fork, not with their hands."

If a group of people are introduced by first names, you don't insist on calling everyone Mr. X or Miss Y because "polite people don't use first names until asked."

In other words, polite means you follow the acceptable practices of the group you're with. You don't insist on doing it "the polite way."

Why am I ranting about this on a lovely Sunday morning?

Cause I'm getting replies to my form emails that say "I know you said no reply needed but I want to be polite."

It's ok to not reply if I say specifically please don't.

Please believe me when I tell you I don't expect a reply, even a thank you, for a form rejection. That's the ONLY place I put "no reply needed."

(of course, the people who read this blog aren't the ones doing this, so once again, I'm howling at the wrong wolves!)


writtenwyrdd said...

That really is annoying. You give such good examples in this post that perhaps it would help if you linked to it from your query instructions page. You could say, after you state "no replies" that if they do not believe you mean it, read this and place the link.

That said, likely they still won't listen. Dunderheads.

csmith said...

Um yes. That is just stupid. "I want to be polite" is no excuse for rudeness. It is like "I don't want to be insulting but..." and "I know you'd rather I didn't comment but..."

Stupid superficialities created to make people feel smug about their rudeness. And apparently their inability to follow simple direction.

Merry Monteleone said...

(of course, the people who read this blog aren't the ones doing this, so once again, I'm howling at the wrong wolves!)

I'd guess at least a few of your regular readers would reply to a form rejection. You're a lot more open to networking with writers, via blog and twitter, than many agents and it might just be a polite way of trying to open a connection, not realizing a lot of other writers are doing the same thing and it's filling your inbox with even more to wade through.

I don't usually send thank you's unless it's a rejection on material rather than just a query. But I did email you a thank you after you'd included my query in Query Roulette - and I probably should've just put it in the comments there - so we've all been clueless at some point or another :-)

DebraLSchubert said...

Stop howling and enjoy the long weekend. You've got a big week ahead, great clients, and an incredibly awesome group of blog followers. (I've never been one to pass up a compliment, even if it's from myself!) Just smile and delete those bothersome e-mails. They're not worth the energy.;-)

Jason Crawford said...

There are some things I would/would never do regardless of the company I'm in, but I see your point.

Regarding thank you's, I think they're the polite thing to do. And I ALWAYS thank people for their time. But there are instances (present case included) when an advance thank you works just fine.

I've only sent out one query and got a partial request on it. I thanked the agent in the query letter and the partial letter, and when she passed on the partial, that was the end of that correspondence.

So, I would recommend, for those who are like me and consider thanking a person for their time the right thing to do, just thank them in advance.

Have a great Memorial Day to all!

C. N. Nevets said...

Doctor: "I know you said not to bother taking your temperature rectally, but I just wanted to be polite."

Whirlochre said...

Could be the start of Irrepressible Goblin Fiction.

A genre that will not be crushed.

Gather your protocols to your wherewithal, and prepare for the assault!

Alternatively, if you're a betting person, likely JR just said something sensible.

Lynne Kelly Hoenig said...

I usually don't reply to a rejection e-mail, form or not, because I know agents have so much e-mail. But I did reply recently to the nicest rejection letter ever that complimented the strong writing and voice. The agent also mentioned some good news in her personal life. I wrote back a brief e-mail to thank her for the compliments about the manuscript and to congratulate her on the good news.

PurpleClover said...

So there is ONE of you saying "not to" reply and there are dozens doing the opposite. So who is going against the grain then? Hmm? ;D

I mean if it is all about following "the acceptable practices of a group" and all...

Liana Brooks said...

There's a long list of people I want to send this post to. Nothing is more annoying than having someone who can't grasp the idea that what is polite in one setting does not always translate over to appropriate behavior in another setting.

It makes my teeth grind.

Being polite means taking into consideration other people's thoughts and needs.

The Writers Canvas said...

Hi Janet,

I hope you will allow me to play devil's advocate here for a moment.

Editors and agents often complain about writers blasting them, asking for agent recommendations, etc. whenever an agent sends a rejection. These writers have ruined it for the rest of us, who simply want to tell the agent thanks for their time, briefly.

Yes, I send quick thank you's. No, I don't consider this 'stupid' or any other adjective. For the one form rejection I received from you, you requested no reply and I respected that wish.

You make a valid point about inbox size. But I have to note that several agents/editors remember me because I *did* take the time to thank them for their comments on a partial when no other writers were doing so. They told me how rare that was and how much they appreciated the gesture; I also got 2 requests for fulls on other projects based on them remembering me. Because of these things and more, it's difficult to see how a simple, brief thank-you can be anything but welcome and positive.

I suppose it boils down to preference; you'd rather not get them and that's fine. Writers should respect that wish. My point is that many honestly may not realize that inbox size is an issue, when they're getting positive feedback from those in the industry saying how rare/appreciated it is.

Just my 2 cents. Thanks for listening.


Rebecca said...

I love this blog post!
You must get some really good thank you replies, to your no reply to get this kind of a post.

Chris Eldin said...

You can't play hard-to-get with people from the South. They think it's sexy.

Northerners take it as a challenge.

Canadians barely get internet service because of all that snow, so your rejections aren't making it up there.

Folks from Oregon are too high on life to care anyway.

Don't get me started on New Jersey.

There is more, but I'll just wait for your rejection to reply to you personally.

Ebony McKenna. said...

I have lost track of the number of editor and agent blogs that post about this topic.

Agent posts: Please don't reply to form rejections
Writer thinks: Ah, but that rejection I got from you couldn't have been a form rejection, so it doesn't count. I'll still reply because I'm 'polite'.

A: For serious, this is a form rejection, take the hint.
W: Nah, my writing is to advanced to get a form rejection.

A: Gawdsake, my inbox is stacking up faster than a game of high-speed Tetris. Please stop!
W: Good. Everyone else will stop, which means my polite reply will stand out. Then the agent will remember me.

Laurel said...

Chris Eldin, you made me laugh out loud!

Having come from a culture that still gives a copy of Emily Post to every young lady graduating from high school...that will be more well worn than her Bible by the time she's married...overcoming the urge to send a "thank you" is akin to telling someone with Tourette's to stop ticcing.

Janet makes a very good point here, however, and even Emily Post would agree. The purpose of good manners is to make things easier for others. If you wish to indicate your value for someone else's time and it takes up too much of it for them to be pestered by your thank you missive, you have violated the first rule of good manners.

Janet said...

No, you're not howling at the wrong wolves. Because of blogs like this there is a very long list of mistakes I never made. The people who need a pound of cure might not be reading, but the ounce-of-prevention people are benefiting. So don't think of this as a waste of time.

Buffra said...

Yes!! I have an acquaintance who insists on the "polite" way to do things -- regardless of the fact that often my family and close friends do NOT follow these guidelines amongst ourselves. So she ends up insulting me and people I really care about, all in the name of good manners. It's horrible!

Aimless Writer said...

I used to thank agents and editors for their reject whether or not advice was included.
It came from my parents. They made me write thank you cards for every single thing. If we didn't say thank you we got that little slap up side the head with "What do you say???"
So it's ingrained.
However after reading how much mail agents get I have stopped thanking them for the rejections no matter how nice they were (and yes, some agents write really nice rejections even if they are form letters).
Still my fingers itch to send that thank you....

Dr. Deb said...

"Need" is not the same as "want". Psychologically speaking, it would read better to take need out of the sentence all together.

No reply wanted.

Aimless Writer said...

Chris Eldrin,
What about New Jersey?
We put the F-U in FUN!
Loved your post. lol