I once fell in love with a dress. It was bright blue and beaded all over. In retrospect, it was the sort of dress drag queens wear, but I thought it was sophisticated and glamorous and, above all, grown up - I must have been about 19. I wanted it, despite the mega price tag that I really couldn't afford.
I brought my friend Alison along to see what she thought. I paraded in the dress in front of her, watching for her opinion. She didn't look convinced. 'It's the sort of dress that everyone will look at the dress and not you,' she said eventually. 'And I'm not sure about the colour...'
I didn't buy the dress.
We all need friends like Alison, especially when you're sending out letters and synopses to agents. Friends like Alison are kind, but firm. They don't let you make an idiot of yourself. You're all wrapped up in dreams of what might be, and they persuade you to take a realistic look at yourself. I've told friends in the past that their agent letters are creating the impression that they are:
Pompous. Nit-picking. Hell to work with. Litigious. Needy. Demanding. Hysterical. Bonkers.
Now, I know that my friends aren't any of those things (except possibly the bonkers bit), but that's the impression they're giving and none of those qualities are desirable in a writer. In fact, they're all turn-offs. I look at the first letter I wrote and I can see that none of the agents I sent it to probably bothered to read beyond the first paragraph, because it created such a ghastly impression of me. (Oh, the shame, I'm blushing just thinking about it.)
So before you waste time, energy and money sending out, ask a friend to tell you what impression you're giving. Honestly.
NEW!!! I've finally got round to organising some course dates....
How to WRITE a Novel: London 3rd May/Birmingham 7th May/
Oxford 8th May/Exeter 21st May/Bath 12th June
How to SELL a Novel: London 24th May/Exeter 4th June/
Bath 3rd July Details are on my website