I'm not a stickler for rules. In fact, I've broken a rule once... or twice, not that I'll ever tell you when, how, or why. My point is that I'm not as strict as some may think, and I am certainly more lax than many of my colleagues when it comes to submission etiquette.
I honestly don't expect much. If you've seen my prior posts on queries, you'll see that there are things that should and should not be included in the letter. When it comes down to it, that's all I ask for.
However, I do have some peeves that should be noted. They are mass mailing and poor formatting. I Don't like the later for the obvious reasons...it's hard to read. When I spend all day in front of a computer or book reading, my little old eyes get tired, and my brain gets saturated, and my patience... goes. I don't like things that look like they've been cut and pasted. I'm bothered when text looks different, or is indented in a way that makes me stop reading to figure out if what I'm about to read is still part of the letter. Make it at least look professional folks. Use your common sense. Please!
The second peeve I mentioned is the mass e-mail. This is actually what prompted me to write this right now. I just received a query from someone with 57 other recipients listed... Yes, FIFTY-SEVEN other agents in the "To:" line. Just to let you all know... This is a No-No. No one likes this. It is just as bad as misspelling someone's name. It shows lack of attention to detail, lack of patience, lack of respect, and, in sum, lack of professionalism. I tried to tell myself that it was fine. After all, I'm a busy person too, and I can understand anyone who is trying to save time...So I read the query.
...And I shouldn't have. I too should have saved the time, because the thing is a mess. In short, the letter contains all the errors that I feared. I've been here before. I've even posted entries in this blog about what not to do on a query, but since this one is a bit different, I decided to tell people about this one too. Hopefully, it will deter others from making the same mistakes.
In case you were wondering... I did respond to the letter. Here's what I said:
Dear John, Thanks for your submission. Unfortunately, I'm going to have to decline this book because I'm honestly not sure what it is about. Your summary includes too many different elements to accurately portray the plot of the story. You need to be more careful with punctuation and formatting. Also, just to let you know, the majority of the agents you sent this to will probably not respond to this e-mail because it is a mass e-mail. You should never include the names of all of the recipients in one e-mail. Hope this is helpful to you in the future.
I could have said more to give him better guidance. I could have referred him to an article, or a book. Then again, I probably should have saved my time and just replied, "DECLINED DUE TO LACK OF COMMON SENSE." Or even better, I should have clicked on "Reply to all" ;)
Okay, thanks for letting me vent. I feel much better. :)