I have just spent the better part of the past two hours researching local (to Utah) presses and writing query letters on the off chance (really off chance) some of these smaller presses will be willing to take a chance by considering a poetry manuscript. I know my chances are not that good, but this is the place I find myself because the book I have written has a much better chance of being appealing to people from the Utah area.
So picture me, sitting here while my student have study hours (because we are on a testing schedule and half my student are testing during class) dutifully writing query letters aimed specifically at one press or the other. The good news is I can honestly say all of the presses received a sincere letter. One in particular, which likes to focus on the West and seems to be interested in Utah was a real pleasure to query to when all was said and done. I even offered to send them a pdf of my manuscript even if they weren't interested in publishing poetry. They just seemed to have a sincerity I liked. Not to say the other places weren't sincere, but their focus seemed to be a really good fit.
Besides, I don't really know how to write a 'form' query letter. I just don't know how people do it. I don't know whether it feels like cheating to do that, or if I really want to talk directly to the people on the other end of my giant e-mail machine, but I do. I don't think it's a fear of form letters because I will write form submission letters when I have a really big push, but query letters seem to be a different animal altogether. I think because when I write a query letter it's usually to a place not really comfortable with poetry publication and I see part of my job as putting them at ease as much as I can, convincing them I am not some holed up writer who writes about his 'feelings.' I am in a way, selling myself with query letters which doesn't happen with your standard submission letters. Well, at least not mine.
It's got me thinking. I may even have to amend my submission policy for Hobble Creek Review. I may have to start insisting on cover letters. I think it is becoming increasingly important to stress courtesy and manners among writers. So many are entirely rude and cold with their submissions, expecting I will be thrilled that __________________ finally decided to submit a few poems. A cover letter, even a mass produced cover letter requires some effort, some care.
Take care, those of you who still read blogs.