Writers Must Convey Professionalism, Regardless of Age

Last week, we published the worst query letter I’d ever received. I subsequently received two emails from readers who disagreed with my response to the writer, saying it may have been a teenager who wanted to write for us. They implied I should have been more gentle on the writer. Pfffttt!!!

This was my response to one of them –

Even if he or she was a teenager, they should know better than to send letters to businesses like that. If they don’t, their school is failing them miserably. My response to their email was professional and honest. I’m not in the habit of sugarcoating things.

The problem with many kids nowadays is they come from the “everybody gets a trophy” generation. They expect people to coddle them, or hold their hand every step of the way, or even to do the work for them. Three of our children (ages 20, 22 and 26) are from that generation and some of their old friends used to make my head spin with their selfish comments and expectations about anything and everything, to say nothing of how disrespectful they were to their own parents. I remember one mother telling me, “My teenage daughter always yells at me in front of her friends. What should I do?” Geez…

We didn’t raise our kids that way. We never told them, “You’re better than everybody else” or “Look out for #1!” Subsequently, we have five children (the younger ones are 11 and 6) who are respectful, intelligent, and, most importantly, deeply empathetic to those around them, while not allowing others to push them around. They are headstrong and have high self-esteem but they don’t believe they are “better than” anybody and everybody else nor do they expect anyone to do their jobs for them. If they are interested in something, they research it thoroughly before they dive in because that’s what we taught them to do. I expect the same of every other young person as well.

I’m certainly not going to sugarcoat a response to a person who sends me a query letter written in teenage-text-shorthand. How else are they to learn how to approach an editor correctly? Certainly not by someone holding their hand, correcting their grammar for them, and gently telling them it’s okay and that we’ll give them a writing assignment anyway just because they’re young. Give me a break… That young writer was lucky I sent an honest response at all. Most editors would have simply clicked the delete key and the writer would have received no feedback at all.

All writers, regardless of age, should convey professionalism at all times. If they do make a mistake, they should learn from it before approaching other editors in the future.

Angela Hoy is the co-owner of WritersWeekly.com and BookLocker.com. WritersWeekly.com is the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker.com is: “As close to perfection as you’re going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I’ve ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can’t go wrong here. Plus, they’re selective and won’t publish any manuscript just because it’s accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors’ books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know.”

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