Thursday, August 10, 2006

It IS the size that counts…

You’ve heard the expression, “It isn’t the size that counts, but how you use it.” Right? Well, we are here to tell you that the opposite is true. It IS the size that counts, and we aren’t just talking about hard drives here.*WINK* We’re talking about e-mail attachments, which we don’t take unless we request them. However, we both still get them regularly, and they are deleted unread.

One of the major reasons for this is the size of the attachments. We have both received messages with attachments so large that every time we have clicked on the message for any reason, it locked up our operating systems. Also, we have had to sit and wait while a message downloads for up to fifteen minutes because someone attached a huge file to it, usually a graphic file in BMP format. Once it is downloaded, then it is unwieldy to work with and makes our computers systems unstable.

Then there is the virus issue. Let us explain…
Writers send us e-mail attachments with nothing else in the body of the e-mail message.
Writers send us e-mail attachments with a note in the body of the message telling us that the query is in the attachment. We have never quite understood this one.
Writers send us e-mail attachments that include pictures of themselves, their children, their pets, and sometimes their illustrations.
Writers send us links to their Web sites with instructions for us to go there to review their work.

Spammers and people who spread viruses also send attachments and links to Web sites that look awfully similar to these queries. How are we supposed to tell the difference? Sometimes we can’t, especially if the subject line of the message is something designed to be “attention-getting,” like Next Bestseller or A query for you, etc. These sound just gimmicky enough to possibly fit the spam protocol.

It doesn’t matter to us that you have a virus scanner program because there are problems with the software and software users that can render them useless. For example, one problem with anti-virus software is that people disable it to load other software and forget to enable it again. Another is that they don’t set the software to do an automatic update, and since new viruses emerge every day, this means their software can miss a virus, allowing it to be transmitted. One last problem is that some viruses are so sophisticated that they disable the virus program.

Many times, computer viruses, like STD’s, infect their victims and the victims are often unaware of any problem until they it’s passed on to someone else. For those of you who are sending out links to your Web sites, you are probably wondering what this has to do with you. Lots. Hackers can attack the code of a Web site and add a virus to it. Some will set up a site with a name very similar to a popular site and load it with a virus so that any person who accidentally uses a popular misspelling of the name of the site downloads a virus immediately.
We have either had these experiences or known someone who has, and so we simply don’t take attachments or follow e-mail links to writer/illustrator sites. If you don’t believe us, do some research and get the facts so that you can protect yourself and others. We are not the only agents who refuse attachments. Most have the policy to just delete them, like we do.

So, we aren't just being fussy or particular, just cautious, and we encourage writers to be cautious as well. Imagine how it would feel to send a virus to an editor you just made contact with and were trying to impress. I had a friend who once sent a worm she didn't know she had to a place where she was applying for a job. Needless to say, she never got a response. We would wish better for you.