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Sunday, June 24, 2007

And Now: How *Not* to Get Published

I have just been the recipient of the strangest spam I have ever gotten. No Nigerians involved, no performance enhancing drugs and (thank god) no goatse double-penetration felch hentai.

No this spam was obviously a labor of love by a single individual who has absolutely the wrong idea about the publishing industry. (My comments in italics.)

Also, here's a little disclaimer: I do not publish people's personal e-mails to me. Ever. Even if you act like a jackass, anything that's actually directed at me I treat as confidential. However, if you send me spam form letters, you are implicitly saying that you want the whole frigging world to see your message whether they want to or not, and thus I reserve the right to comment, in public.

Re: A Best Seller waiting to be published - Discover the Revolutionary New Way to Heal Yourself!...
From: Writer Seeks Publisher <writer_seeks_publisher@xxxxx>

[SWANN: First step to not be published, don't put your real name on the query, you don't want those nasty publishers to find out who you really are, do you? Also, be sure to let them know right off the bat that this is a gosh-darned guaranteed bestseller.]

Please only reply to the email links in the text below.

[SWANN: Second step, you don't want technophobic publishers to even consider responding by phone or, golly, snail mail, so let them only e-mail you back. And you can filter out the Luddites among them by making sure they can't just hit "reply" but have to hunt down an address hidden in the body of the e-mail. Yeah, smooth]

FAO Publishers & Literary Agents - I have a fully completed and critiqued non-fiction manuscript together with graphically designed cards available for publishing.

[SWANN: Don't forget to make sure to let them know that what you're querying them about is "available for publishing" this will help differentiate you from all the people querying publishers and agents about stuff that isn't available for publishing. Of course, make sure to never ever go to the trouble if identifying the recipient by name, or even profession- that way they know that this gem is going off to all their competitors and they need to act quick if they want a piece of this bestselling action.]

For more information, please read this email or email me at writer_seeks_publisher@XXXXX to request the synopsis, some sample chapters, the card graphics and the promotional website.

[SWANN: don't forget to remind them to read your e-mail, preferably down in the second or third paragraph. And of course, whenever you mention a website, don't forget to omit the URL. Can't have just anyone looking at your promotional materials.]


My Critique company commented:

[SWANN: of course, make sure to let them know if you had to pay someone to look at your work.]

This is an amazing manuscript. Many, many readers will benefit from this material. Thank you for writing this manuscript. This will be a huge success! I do wish you luck with this endeavor. However, you will not need luck. You have an awesome manuscript, and a special gift with words.

[SWANN: Always a good idea to include nebulous and vague puffy quotes by people you fail to identify. It lends an air of mystery to your manuscript, an indispensible component of self-help non-fiction. Make sure they call your MS "awesome" at least once, especially if it's self-help non-fiction.]

For more information, please email me at writer_seeks_publisher@XXXXX to request the synopsis, some sample chapters and the promotional website.

[SWANN: Make sure you repeat one paragraph of your query verbatim at the end just to remind the reader of your " special gift with words"]

[SWANN: Of course, it also helps you to avoid publication if you make sure you do not differentiate between authors, editors, and literary agents. It isn't your job to sort out these fine distinctions. Save yourself time by spamming it to anyone, thus giving you more time to concentrate on your awesome unpublished bestseller.]


Maureen McHugh said...

Gosh, my spam feels so...pedestrian.

S Andrew Swann said...

I'm frankly surprised you didn't get one of these. I get the feeling the market research went something like:

"Here's a blog that has something to do with publishing, is there an e-mail link?"

Anonymous said...

"Here's a blog that has something to do with publishing,