Bad Ken, No Biscuit…

A few weeks ago I received a letter from a copy editing service. It was obvious from the email that the sender did not speak English as a first language (although they claim to have “college educated Americans” doing their editing). Normally I just delete emails like this one, but something about the complete lack of copy editing in an email selling copy editing services set me off. I decided to respond to the email in the only way I thought appropriate – I edited it and sent it back. Below is the letter (my additions are in red, while my comments are in braces):

Hello there [This is a pretty informal opening for a business letter]. My name is [Name removed], and I am in charge of the american American online proofreading service for online proofreaders known as the [Either “the” is part of the name and needs to be capitalized, or it is not part of the name and should be left out after “as”] [Company name removed]. Every editor we have on staff is college educated and has at least 5 years of experience with copyediting. Try us and you wont won’t regret it. We not only do proofreading, but we can also do complete rewording of articles.

Make your content count with our professional proofreading and editing services [You offer more than one service] and capture the hearts, minds, and money of your readers. We can help you do this by making sure your content is the best. Possibly the first proofreading and content editing service for internet marketers [You’re not sure about being first? Try Google…], [Company name removed] is here to help. Our stuff staff consists of college-educated Americans [I’m assuming your “stuff” is, in fact, neither college educated nor American…] who have a passion for the written word.

[I’m bored – Perhaps your staff of college-educated American proofreaders can help you find the remaining errors.]

You might be wondering why I decided to share this. Is it that I truly am nothing more than a “Tool of the Publishing Elite” who derives pleasure from crushing the dreams of others? Is it that I’m trying to show I have a sense of humor (or completely lack one)? While these would be good guesses, they would not be correct. My reason for sharing the above is that this is often how I’m reading your query letters – I’m editing them in my head as I read (I know, I need to get out more). And just as the above letter tells me a lot about the editing services offered by this company, a poorly written query letter tells me a lot about an author.

In short, the best way to ensure that I actually read your synopsis and sample chapters  is not to send a query letter that makes me want to edit it as my response.

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