A man had long-term close friend called Ginny who was a literary agent, so when a friend - I'll call him Mike - said he was looking for an agent for his novel, naturally he suggested Ginny would be someone to call. Mike rang Ginny up.
'Hi, Ginny,' he started. 'I'm a friend of -'
'My name is Virginia,' she cut in, and put the phone down.
This story was told to me by an unpublished writer who was tut-tutting at the rudeness of the agent. And I did a bit of tut-tutting too, at the arrogance of Mike.
1. I would hesitate to call anyone I didn't know well in the middle of the working day. It's just arrogant to assume that people will be happy to stop working to chat to little old you.
2. Cold calling is always irritating to the recipient - just think how you feel when you get interrupted by someone trying to sell you double glazing.
3. Equally irritating is when people get your name wrong. Irrational maybe, but also irritating.
4. Mike didn't bother to do any research to discover Ginny's professional name.
5. He also hadn't done any research in the best way to approach agents - always by post in the first instance. What would have been wrong with...
Dear Virginia Smith,
Our mutual friend, Joe Bloggs, suggested I contact you....
Get real. Agents are deluged with manuscripts and callers wanting to be published, even the ones who say they're not accepting new clients. They are not lolling over their desks, making miniature Eiffel Towers out of the paperclips, waiting for a prospective client to give them a call. Give them the same respect you'd give any other busy person. Give them the respect you'd like yourself. And it's Sarah, with an H.