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Don’t Act Like You’re Best Pals

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I recently had lunch with an agent from one of the major Hollywood agencies. I’ll leave it up to you to guess. Which agency was involved?
A) Creative Artists Agency
B) International Creative Management
C) William Morris Agency

You can also determine, keep your eyes on your own paper now, the circumstances that lead to my lunch meeting. What led to this lunch?
A) A threateningly flashed Desert Eagle .50
B) Lucky positioning in line at Taco Bell
C) The agent’s tremendously lucrative interest in my writing

Finally, you can potentially figure out how the lunch ended. What signalled the end of lunch?
A) A signed contract for a massive publishing deal and champagne for everyone
B) The LAPD negotiator’s demand that I release my hostage
C) The maitre d’ at The Ivy insisting that I take my panhandling on down the street 

During our lunch, the agent did explain one of the things you should not do when pitching. Keep in mind the three major agencies have differing policies on unsolicited submissions or queries. 

Regardless of the guidelines, however, aspiring authors still email agents at these companies. And my dining partner expressed his frustration at a cheap ploy too often used by writers. “My biggest pet peeve by far is the unsolicited email where the writer takes a tone like he/she knows me,” he said. “Does the sender really think 1) that I haven’t seen that before and 2) that I’m really not going to remember who I have and haven’t met before?”

Believe it or not, some people do go so far as to manufacture a supposed meeting. An article appears in Rejection Letters Violate Your First Amendment Rights! magazine about Mr. Bigtime Agent’s appearance at the Oxford Conference for the Book. A month later, Ms. Guided Author writes, “I met you in Mississippi at the conference…” when in reality she’s never crossed the Mason-Dixon line much less dined on the succulent chicken-on-a-stick offered by the Four Corners Chevron station in Oxford.

There are a number of online resources about pitching agents. Check out Pub Rants, Miss Snark, or any number of other websites for more information. Just don’t lower yourself to acting like you know someone you don’t. It’s the pitching equivalent of saying, “Don’t I know you from somewhere” to a beautiful woman. And equally ineffective.