To Whom It May Concern…
…doesn’t work at Page & Spine.
“To whom it may concern” is how I address notes I leave for Ollie when I’m not speaking to him. It is never how I address a potential business contact.
Just thought you’d want to know I rejected another submission, unread, this week because the writer addressed me this way. He then responded that this is the greeting he was taught to use when he had yet to be introduced to the recipient. If true, he needs to find a new teacher. The impression he gives is he’s one of those writers who has picked up Page & Spine’s name from an online list of paying publishers and has never logged on to our site. Imagine! Wanting me to pay him when he can’t even be bothered to find out who might be signing his check! Why he thinks I’d publish his writing when he obviously hasn't troubled himself to lay eyes on my baby … humph!
We’ve all read writers’ magazines. We’ve read the submissions advice to authors in The Writers’ Market. Some of us have even taken writing courses which address marketing. They all say the same thing. RESEARCH. Find out the name of the person to whom you’re submitting your work. Check the submissions instructions. Check the masthead. Contact the publication and ask. (There’s an idea – human contact!) Believe this advice and follow it.
Submitting work for publication is about more than submitting work. It’s about building business relationships, one editor at a time. Your work may or may not be accepted, but you want to be welcome to submit again. So, never submit work without a personalized greeting. It’s unprofessional.
Worse, it’s lazy.
N.K. Wagner is publisher and executive editor of Page & Spine.