(AQIFFLA) A Question I Frequently Feel Like Asking

If you are thinking of sending me a manuscript, please, would you think about not sending me a manuscript?

I spend a good bit of time merely acknowledging receipt of MSS. If I read them all and responded in any adequate fashion, I would not write any more MSS of my own.

I am not happy about this. I wish I could read the works people send me with so much good will and trust. I know that there are treasures among them. I know that these writers are my readers, and wish I could respond in kind. But I am greatly outnumbered!

Sometimes the author wants a response or critique. That MS should be sent to an editor or agent or script doctor, not to a fellow writer, unless the fellow-writer is your buddy.

Sometimes the author clearly believes that a word from me will waft the book magically into the offices of agents and publishers, who will all say Ooh! Aah! If you believe this, please, send it to to Harry Potter. He does magic. I don't.

A great many of the "unsolicited manuscripts" I get come, of course, not from the author but from an editor asking for a blurb. Blurb-giving is part of the business of being a professional writer. It goes with the territory. I don't at all object to being asked. But I like to be asked. To blurb a book, I have to read the book. No reedy, no blurby. Well, how many MSS, galleys, and bound proofs can one woman read?

I can answer a letter of inquiry: Sorry, I just wrote cover copy for three books and can't do any more for a while — or, Sorry, that really doesn't sound like it's in my territory — or, Yeah, send it, I'll give it a shot. — But instead of an inquiry, I get twelve pounds of unbound typescript in my PO box (only it doesn't fit in the box so I have to stand in line to get it) with a cover letter saying Dear Mrs La Guinn, we just know you will love this wonderful fifth book in the thrilling series Gorelords of Crochich. At this point I begin to hate all my fellow writers AND their editors.

Please, save me from guilt, hatred, and hysterical manuscriptophobia! If you want to send me something send me a poem. A short one. I will read it. I promise.
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Copyright © 2003 by Ursula K. Le Guin
Updated Sunday, 26-Feb-2017 17:28:49 PST