Attention writers who smoke

This will be fairly brief.  And, fortunately, in the Internet age is less relevant than it once was.

If you smoke (or live with someone who does), think long and hard about sending out any printed stories or manuscripts from your house.

I’m not a smoker, but my mother is.  She’s had a printout of my manuscript for the past six weeks or so while she reviewed it for me.  Sitting here, thumbing through the pages, I can smell the cigarette smoke.

Since it’s valuable to me to read these pages (she’s a genius at finding little word errors like should instead of shoulder or house instead of horse), I am.  But if I were an agent or editor, I might very well decide that the story I was reading really wasn’t good enough to stand six hours of smelling cigarette smoke.

It wouldn’t be something I would consciously do, but I suspect you’d have to be an even better writer than everyone else to pass that small smell hurdle for me.

Something to think about.  You’d be amazed how much cigarette smell seeps into everything.

About M. H. Lee

M.H. Lee is a speculative fiction writer currently residing in Colorado whose stories are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, sometimes darkly funny, but hopefully always thought-provoking and entertaining.
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3 Responses to Attention writers who smoke

  1. Pingback: My first writing conference recap | M.H. Lee

  2. eriklehman says:

    No offense, but the smell of smoke would NOT deter a publisher from a stellar manuscript. Nothing would. Many best-selling authors smoke/smoked. It’s the words that matter; the creativity honed sharp over years of practice. Yes, of course, you must be a better writer, that is always the goal anyway (smoking is not a factor). Why just try for publication? Shoot for the stars. Shoot for best-seller status. Reading your bio, I noticed that you are on the path that I once traveled. So I’d like to share my opinion if you don’t mind. There are many variables we must consider to get published. The most important thing is perseverance, and the realization that our first novel will most likely not get published. Yet. It’s usually the second or third that gets noticed. Then the publisher wants to see previous work, which leads to the first novel going through the editorial ringer to polish and prepare for publication. I’ve come to find out that that’s the typical process. However, there are rare instances when a first novel gets noticed. Have passion and realize that writing is a lifelong journey, Whether published or not makes no difference. The only thing that truly matters is our ability to create something from nothing; to build worlds and bring characters that live in the back alleys of mind to life. We are creators, and that ability will get noticed sooner or later. Just keep writing, learning, creating. I myself am starting the blog thing also (by recommendation from the powers that be.) Sometimes I think that blogging is more difficult than story writing. It’s a new world to explore; a strange new world filled with living people.

    Good luck to you my fellow creator.
    Erik S. Lehman

    • mhleewriter says:

      To me, sending in a submission that smells like cigarette smoke is akin to showing up for a date without brushing your teeth or putting on deodorant. Sure, your charm and wit may overshadow any smells wafting from your side of the table, but then again they may not. So why not take the extra little effort and be as polished as you can be?

      It’s probably less relevant in this digital day and age, but at least one agent did mention it at a conference I attended last year, so it still must come up every once in a while. (And just because it was de rigeur in the past doesn’t mean it is now. We no longer live in the world of Mad Men where everyone and their mother is a smoker.)

      But to each his own.

      Best of luck with your blog!

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