Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Thank-You Notes

This has little to do with publishing, but I’m guessing we can all use a break from work now and then and this really is an issue that’s been bugging me lately.

Whatever happened to thank-you notes?

I work in a business where it’s expected of me to send a response, albeit via SASE, for correspondence (re: submissions) you send to me. It seems, however, that we are a rare breed. Recently BookEnds was interviewing candidates for an office assistant opening and it was astonishing to me how few sent a thank-you note after the interview, and those who did didn’t even take the time to send it via snail mail, but sent a very informal email instead. When talking to others about this phenomenon, I was shocked to learn that many companies will now interview candidates and never again contact them—not even a form postcard, not even an email, not even a return phone call. After an interview! After the potential job candidate took the time to travel to the job, dress in her best interview clothes, and spend a boring hour, sometimes two, trying to charm the interviewers. How does she find out she didn’t get the job? She just never hears from them again.

I don’t think I’m a prude and usually I don’t even think I’m that old-fashioned, but are thank-you notes really prudish and old-fashioned? What has happened in our world that it’s more common to send a letter of complaint than it is a letter of thanks?

I’d like to think that technology and busy lives have not completely eroded good sense and good etiquette, and luckily I am reminded of this periodically when I get a thank-you note for a rejection letter, conference meeting, or just a brief email exchange. I want to thank all of you for my file of thank-yous (right next to the author beware file) for reminding me that there are actually more authors I want to work with than those I’d like to beware of.