Give Me Attention

By: Jeff Herman

That's what you want, right? Agents, editors, and of course readers, to pay attention to you. Because if they don't pay attention, you're SOL.

I can never over-emphasize that agents and editors are hardened by the relentless storm of queries, proposals and manuscripts that ask for a piece of whatever lurks between their ears. Of course, from that they will discover writers they want to work with. But getting there requires sifting through a lot of mud, and more than a few bad bets made on fool's gold.

Why should you care above the above? Because agents and editors are your customers and their problems are your problems. What do you want? Them. What do they want? Writers. How do we forge mutually beneficial relationships here? Agents/editors have the power because there are extremely few of them compared to the universe of writers. Yes, having good material is important, but it will amount to nothing if you won't/can't attract attention; which leads to access; which leads to deals; which leads to success; which leads to frustration; strike that last line until it's a bridge you come to.

There are recurring rivers of self-help material for writers telling how to get access; some of it by me. It's all good. Consume what you can of it. But guess what? We recycle each other without meaning to, because people in the same business inadvertently teach each other. Once in a while, one of us sees something new, and then it might become integrated into the sub-culture.

Here are a few somewhat original ideas that you might not have seen before. Because the whole idea is to get attention, what if you start your pitch letters or verbal pitches with absurd but interesting non sequitors?

Why do we call them "brokers" if they're supposed to make us money?

How come they don't make cat poop flavored dog food?

How come they don't make mouse flavored cat food?

Presumably, none of the above have anything to do with what you write. But if you opened a query letter that started with something nuts like the above, how would you respond? If you would stop reading it and trash the letter, then this technique isn't for you. But if it would make you continue to read the letter with more apt attention, then something useful has been accomplished by the person who sent it to you. You may or may not like the rest of the letter, but at least it wasn't added to the over-flowing "to read" pile. 

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