A latecomer to the Wrath of Snark asks:
What does Miss Snark think about query and cover letters that mention prior publications (whether this submission or previous works) through noncommercial presses (Dorrance, Rutledge, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, XLibris, and many, many others) or that were self-published? Are you:
* Saddened at the waste?
* So uninterested that you doodle a picture of Mr Clooney on the envelope instead of reading the submission?
* Impressed only if they note x (for your value of x) sales?
* Snarky at the impertinence of this inquiry?
Let's distinguish the cast by category: Dorrance is a subsidy house; Rutledge I've never heard of (not to be confused with the reputable Rutledge Hill Press, part of Nelson Publishing); and AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and XLibris are snake oil publishers who prey on people's desire to be published.
Subsidy means they take your money, and give you a certain number of books. They're usually not all that glamorous a product, but they're books. Subsidy publishers do NOT tell you that your book will be part of the publishing buffet table in the marketplace. That particular come-on is what distinguishes those PODmills, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and XLibris.
If an author queries me and tells me they are "published" by one of the POD mills, I make two immediate judgments: they're clueless and they're impatient. They're going to have to write REALLY well to get over those hurdles.
Not everyone agrees with me. And I've found one exception to that general principal. I read Jamie Baud's Envy the Rain (CafePress) on the recommendation of PODDYmouth, and it was good. I could see why it hadn't been picked up for publication, but he's a writer I'll keep my eye on. His blog is on my blogroll and I read him oftenTheKnownUniverse
If you query and say.."yea, I learned a lot, I did a book with -fill in the blank POD press- and now I see why you've been so hard on them" then I will be less hostile. But, if you query and you think it's a serious publishing credential, no dice.
It's not serious because there is no review process. And I don't mean a review in the New York Times Book Review. I mean, these places will publish anything. You pay your money, you get a book. Regardless of quality. They'd publish every single book that went through the Snarkometer this week, and even the people who WROTE those pages mostly agreed with my comments about things that needed to be changed.
Agents aren't trying to keep you away from the gravy train of publishing, nor are publishers. There are a LOT of good small publishers that don't pay a lot, but publish really good work. Akashic Press, Softskull Press, UglyTown, Contemporary Press, HardCase Crime. They take unagented work, some of them, and from agents too. But they don't take crap. POD mills do. Crap is the rule not the exception at those places, and if you don't believe me, go read 100 novels on their list and come back and show me I'm wrong.
There are exceptions. Not many.
So, to answer you directly:
Saddened at the waste-no
So uninterested that you doodle a picture of Mr Clooney on the envelope instead of reading the submission? --don't even say his name in the same sentence as "uninterested"-so, no.
Impressed only if they note x (for your value of x) sales?- no, and $no. How many books your mom and Aunt Suzie bought aren't gonna make me love you.
Snarky at the impertinence of this inquiry?
Most people who don't know this are just clueless, not stupid. They'll learn. It's gonna be hard on them but they will. So, no to categorizing them as impertinent. Impertinent is writing BACK and telling me I'm a nitwit. For that however, there are revenge elves at the ready.