Prima Donnas Need Not Apply by Angela Hoy

Prima Donnas Need Not Apply by Angela Hoy

Some authors are just a bit too big for their britches. We don’t work with people like that. We receive emails from authors all the time telling us they want to use but, due to their qualifications, title or celebrity status in their field, they expect “special treatment.” We treat all authors the same and don’t show favoritism as that would not be fair to everybody else.

We received a book proposal the other day from an attorney. It was a novel. Our guidelines clearly state, if we notice errors, we will reject the book. I noticed one glaring error on the first page (a misspelled word) and several other grammatical and punctuation errors after that. I sent the attorney a rejection letter.

The attorney fired back an email that included a litany of her qualifications and education. She claimed she was previously an English teacher for grades K-12 before attending a prestigious university and becoming an attorney. She went on and on and she was obviously very angry and quite stunned that someone of her prestige had been rejected.

I replied with this:

Hi [name removed],

Just one mistake I remember finding early on in your manuscript was flash back. Flashback is one word. I don’t save manuscripts so I can’t go through it and send you a list of what I noticed. I only looked at a few pages and I found several errors. I found so many that I stopped reading your book.

We can’t publish books with errors. That is clearly stated in our submission guidelines and that is why I didn’t accept your book.

I’m shocked by your angry response. I could have just taken your money, accepted your book and put it on the market, embarrassing us both, but I don’t do business that way. There are, however, numerous POD companies that won’t bother to alert you to errors in your manuscript because they are more concerned about how much money they can get from authors, and how fast they can get it.

Just because you’re an attorney and a previous English teacher does not make you an editor. I would strongly suggest hiring a professional editor to avoid future embarrassment. To boldly claim your book contains no errors simply because you’re an attorney and a former English teacher is not only elitist, but is also grossly incorrect. Please don’t submit your book in the future. I’m not interested in working with someone who sends me emails like yours.

Good luck to you.

I received another angry response from her. She said she had been “favored” by working hard to receive a doctorate in law from an outstanding Law School and that it was true that she had a “scholarly understanding of the English language” due to her training in Latin at the college level. She then talked about her grade point average and her high acclaim in her profession.

She then said, “If ‘too many spelling errors’ is your uppermost criteria, then you will
never be qualified to understand and evaluate the artistry and
marketability of an excellent book.

Boy oh boy, am I glad I rejected that manuscript. You can’t pay me enough to work with someone like that.

The lesson to be learned here is that everybody makes mistakes, even attorneys and English teachers, and being able to admit your mistakes and correct them, rather than attacking the critic, is an honorable trait.