“Worst Advice I’ve Heard from a Speaker”

This was what someone posted on a conference twitter thread that I recently spoke at. Of course, the speaker was moi. Making friends and sowing happiness wherever I go.

The advice was to query every agent who attended the conference whether the attendee met the agent or not and say they had met.

Of course, the tweet didn’t include my caveat that I include at the beginning of every session where I tell people that anything I say is my opinion and feel free to ignore. My wife does that on a regular basis and she’s the smartest person I know. In fact, I’m not sure the tweeter even attended my session since no issue was raised when I said this.

Here’s my theory: the difference between being aggressive and obnoxious is whether or not someone has a good manuscript.

I’m not talking sliding manuscripts under bathroom stalls or accosting agents. I’m just talking about sending a query. But here’s something to keep in mind: those attendees PAID for those agents to attend. To get flown in, housed, and wined and dined. It’s their job. The attendees took the time and energy and finances to attend the conference. That puts them ahead of 95% of wanna-be authors out there.

You know how long someone spends on an average query? Under a minute, if that long.

Here’s another thing: of those writers they meet that the agents actually do tell to send their material, the majority don’t. People don’t believe that, but trust me, it’s true. Writers reject themselves because they’re afraid of rejection.

I also said: if you’re not cheating you’re not trying.

Granted, that’s dangerous advice to put out. It’s like putting gasoline in the hands of pyromaniacs, but it’s also giving encouragement to the a few true writers who’ve worked hard and need a break. Because here’s a truism from my three decades making a living as a novelist: you try to get published the traditional way and then something strange and wonderful you don’t expect will happen and you seize the opportunity. Sometimes you have to make that strange and wonderful happen.

I’d rather err on the side of a hundred pyromaniacs starting small blazes in the hopes of helping one true, hard-working writer.

I leave you with more ‘worst advice’, which I learned in Special Forces and have lived with.

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The Novel Writers Toolkit and Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author

West Point grad; Special Ops Vet; NY Times bestseller of over 80 books; for free books and over 200 free downloadable slideshows go to www.bobmayer.com

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