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September 20th, 2014


I have a book coming out Real Soon Now, and a co-author attached to that book who up to now has lived a peaceful life of relative anonymnity. But he's starting to get the kinds of weird emails that I have been living with for a while now. Seeing that, has made me reflect on the rules of thumb I have invented for myself over the years.

Every stranger who writes to me (and I have the world's easiest name to Google, there's no hiding) deserves one polite answer. This assumes, of course, that they are actually writing to me, not just including me on a spam list. (It's pretty easy to tell the difference.)

After one reply, I simply cannot reply any further except in exceptional cases, because I could not possibly handle the volume of the correspondence. Mind you, one or two such letters a day is all I get -- I am no Scalzi -- but I don't have the personality type to be able to handle, emotionally, talking to more strangers than once or twice a month -- I am no Scalzi.

Furthermore, let me make clear to everyone who writes:

1. No, it is not a meteorite. There are many good sites online to help you see why it is not a meteorite. If you can't figure out how to find them with Google, you can't figure out for yourself that it's not a meteorite.

2. I do not do spiritual direction by email. That's because, first of all, I do not do spiritual direction at all, not even face to face; that's not where my talents and training lie. But in fact, no one can do spiritual direction by email. It takes face-to-face contact to be able to read voice inflections and body language; and it takes living in the same community to be able to understand the subtext of what's being said, in both directions.

3. It wasn't a UFO. If you saw a UFO (and especially if your friend whom you really trust saw a UFO) I don't want to know about it. Yes, I know, some day someone will make contact with the Nebulons from Planet 10 and the human race will never be the same. I do not want to be that person. I suspect, if you thought it through, you would realize that you wouldn't want to be that person, either. If you don't know what I mean, read the book of the prophet Jeremiah.

4. I will not read your manuscript. Join a local writer's group. I will not recommend you to my publisher/agent/editor, either. That's Not My Job. Getting published is a crapshoot. There is no trick or logic. Having a successful book, ditto. There are plenty of sites on line with advice, good or bad, about how to accomplish it. Whatever you do, you won't be able to do what I did (join the Jesuits, get assigned to the Vatican) so I really have no useful experience to pass on to you, in any event.

5. If you send me, unsolicited, a copy of your book I will immediately send it to recycling. Likewise a copy of your video. I will never click on a link you send me, ever. My time is limited, and it's already paid for by other people; you have no right to it.

6. There is no rule six.

(I thank pnh for teaching me the term "microcelebrity")



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