CHICAGO, June 28 (Reuters) -- At a meeting of the American Medical Association on Wednesday, prominent physicians have called for research into the public health risk of query letter addiction, declaring that the writing of query letters is decidedly an unhealthy mental illness.
"While more study is needed," said AMA president Dr. Davis Ronald, " the AMA remains concerned about the behavioral, health and societal effects of query letter and e-query overuse."
The debate over query addiction touched a nerve among doctors, who are not sure what to tell writers and their concerned families. " To the extent that writing query letters, waiting for replies from literary agents, and then sinking into depression upon the inevitable rejection, then you are talking about a compulsive behavior that belongs in a psychiatric manual," Dr. Ronald told reporters.
A psychiatrist from New York City, specializing in addiction, said querying literary agents were definitely a problem for some. "This is a brain disease for every single writer who is at all serious about getting published," he said. "And they all become addicted to querying."
Addiction experts who have not written a novel yet are strongly opposed to declaring query letter writing a mental illness that should be included in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Physicians who have tried countless times to get a short story published in the Bellevue Literary Review are equally adamant that querying literary agents, and submitting in general, are highly addictive and deserving of a proper place in the pantheon of psychiatric illnesses.
Literary agents who were contacted for comment refused to return phone calls, saying that they only responded to mailed queries with SASE or e-mail queries but only if they were interested in asking for more material.