I’m The Acceptable Face Of Stalking

Now that I’ve finished my first novel and it’s been through the beta critique and editing phases, the next step is to query literary agents. This, unfortunately, is a bit more than e-mailing them the manuscript, sitting back and crossing my fingers and toes. Instead I have to draft and forward them a bespoke letter of introduction, known as the query letter. My entire submission hangs on the quality of this.

A good query letter should be concise, but informative. It should entice the agent, telling them enough about you and their project, to leave them wanting more. The agent wants to connect, to feel intrigued. You need to hook them, snare them, make your manuscript stand out from the hundreds of others which hit their ‘slush piles’ every week. You need to be unique, different, you need to be ‘the one.’

To do so, you need to find out everything you can about the agent. This shows them you have put the work in, that you care, that you want them above anyone else to champion your literary gem. You research them. Which is a polite way of saying you embark on an online stalking crusade of epic proportions. You binge on their Twitter accounts, pore over their website biographies, eking out every last nugget of information.

You find out their favourite genres, authors and who they already represent. You uncover their pet hates, what they love and what they loathe in a submission. You want to know everything. Their favourite pizza topping, shoe size, the name of their dog. Anything that will give you an edge over the opposition. It’s needy, sycophantic and cringe worthy work on the part of the querying hopeful. But it’s all part of the game.

Fionnuala and I have been watching a Netflix show called ‘You’ where a mild mannered bookshop employee becomes obsessed with a beautiful aspiring author in New York. He stalks her, both online and in real life, worming his way into her life, until he eventually wins her heart. Nothing will stand in his way and he stops at nothing to win the object of his affection. It is a creepy, psychological, seat of your pants show.

I’m beginning to feel like Joe, the star of the show. Beneath the mild mannered, affable exterior he’s a sociopathic monster. I don’t think I’ve quite strayed into the latter territory when it comes to my querying, but my obsessive personality certainly means I am well suited to the task. Down the years I’ve been fixated with authors, musicians, sports stars and authors.

Someone with an obsessive personality has no ‘off’ switch when it comes to such behaviour. We are runaway trains, hurtling down the tracks towards the buffers. We have no filter mechanisms, there is no emergency brake. When I’m in this zone, I’m oblivious to the various screaming sirens and flashing lights telling me I’ve overstepped the mark. It’s like opening a tub of honeycomb ice cream. I don’t know when to stop.

The first mouthful is heavenly, the second better, and before you know it you are halfway through the tub. You want to stop, you know you have to stop, but you continue to gorge on the sticky, sweet goodness until there is nothing left. Just an empty tub, a guilty conscience and the beginnings of a food hangover churning in the depths of your stomach. Yes, your stomach is full, but your soul is empty.

That is the nature of obsessive behaviour.

Part 2 later today….

Are you guilty of obsessive behaviour?

Do you know when to stop?

31 thoughts on “I’m The Acceptable Face Of Stalking

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  1. Try the UnNamed Press, my daughter was published last year with them and she is so very pleased. She is a strong Christian woman and passed up a few because of their compromising relationship with other writers. How all works out well for you brother.

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  2. That’s the trouble with publishing: too many gatekeepers.

    I do have times I get obsessed about things. I tend to channel a lot of that into my Magic the Gathering addiction the last couple of years and creating a large image gallery on my computer. Eventually I tire of it and take a break from it. It can be quite cyclical.

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  3. Why not self-publish?

    I tend to get obsessive when I go on a diet and start making progress. I used to be obsessive about my work (I over worked), but I learned the hard way that was a big mistake. I TRY to be more aware now, so it doesn’t happen.

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  4. Even if authors do snag agents to represent them, that’s all they’ve got: just another person to try to interest a publisher in their work. The book is no closer to being published, because the agent will have the same “stalking” issues as the author would have. All the author has done is commit to paying a considerable chunk of change to someone else, if that person is successful in getting a publishing contract (and that’s a mighty big “if”).

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  5. Obsession? Who, me?? Don’t even get me started. I’ve never tried honeycomb ice cream, never heard of it, but it sounds absolutely decadent! Speaking of stalkers, I just had to turn my blog private last night due to unwanted attention and contact from a stranger. Sucks, but I blocked and will lay low for awhile. Nothing like a little taste of your own medicine to put things in perspective. I will shake him off, though. Still reading, though 🙂

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  6. The short answer is yes- obsessive much??? That’s me! I am working diligently on chilling out and looking outward for those fixes less. And filling myself up inward. Than maybe I will be full and fulfilled.

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  7. I know little about publishing, but I hope to write my own book one day too. Good luck with this endeavor. I hope your work gets the recognition it deserves. Captivating analogy, by the way…I have also felt like this when preparing for interviews!

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  8. You’ve written about obsessive negative thoughts before, and I can relate to that.
    My food-binging, however, seems merely an intentional self-defeating action from feeling depressed.

    Keep up the querying and stalking; Whatshisname is worth it. 😉

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