Do you get angry when after contacting an editor or publisher via mail or email they get your name wrong? Even though you get an answer and it is a rejection you get more mad because in their reply they have spelled your name wrong or got your gender mixed.
Many years ago, I sent a query to a couple of editors. In my letter I had introduced myself as a woman, a writer, a mother of two kids, etc. Not much later I received a rejection letter from one of them addressed ‘Dear Sir.’ I wasn’t surprised much about the rejection, I was kind of expecting it, but what made me angry was the way the letter was addressed ‘Dear Sir.’
I was mad. I was mad because my name, Shoghig, or the way it is wrongly translated from Arabic to Choghig in my passport (another thing that I mad at) is an authentic Armenian name that means a ray of the sun. A non-Armenian hearing my name without seeing me wouldn’t know whether I am a woman. That is why I take extra care in my correspondence to explain who I am. And yet to be referred to as Sir instead of Madam annoyed me only because it meant they hadn’t even read my letter.
Like you, I know that the actual decision-making process that results in the purchase or rejection of a work of fiction is most of the time a mystery. Different editors have different ideas about what makes a good story. What is good for one editor may not work for another. As Lee Quarfoot wrote:
“Craft and story are only part of our consideration; timing and balance and content within our inventory and with the rest of any given issue are important factors, too.”
Or as William Brohaugh writes:
“You can’t talk me into understanding my audience better than I do. Yes, my audience should be interested in your book. Yes, they need your advice. But if my experience tells me that they won’t respond to your topic, no amount of arguing from a writer will change my mind.”
All that’s been said above is true, I agree. But if no one reads your query, then what? As writers isn’t it fair to expect from editors and/or publishers an honest discouragement where appropriate, and respect for our work and feelings? And to at least to get our gender right and spell our names correctly (haven’t they heard of copy paste) in the letters they send us…