Want to hear an embarrassing story? Sure you do.
I send a query letter out every day I don’t work my day job. That means, once or twice a week, I let a literary agent know about Mind & Machine. No one else is going to do it for me, right?
Imagine my surprise when I realize that every one of those letters I’ve sent in the past few months has been wrong.
There are sections of each letter that I reuse every time. This is just my way of cutting down on rephrasing my pitch every time and instead focusing the letter toward each particular agent.
Halfway through the summary of Mind & Machine, I found there was a sentence that didn’t work at all.
Though Commander find where the relic in the Kadiumite’s lair, Der Former takes the object so he can use it and Kathryn to make a doomsday device.
Did you see it? I didn’t for the longest time. Everything is spelled correctly, and it would be easy to overlook my mistake.
I’ve fixed the mistake (you have caught it, right?), but that doesn’t help me with all the letters I’ve already sent out. There are probably twenty-five letters that I’ve sent that included that line, wart and all. Twenty-five times where someone saw that sentence before they read about the stories I’ve published, the ebook I’ve released, and my status as an Honorable Mention in the Writers of the Future contest.
How many possible contacts has that one line cost me?
In all fairness, that line was in the query I sent in October that led to an agent requesting further pages from me. It’s a small mistake, one I didn’t notice for months. Have you seen it yet? I’m not telling you what I did wrong, but there’s a big error there.
If you’ve done something like this, then you’re wrong. One of my college instructors loved to tell his students “Dare to be wrong.” It was a lesson I stole for the opening scene of Vitamin F; it’s a line that motivates me to continue despite any obstacles in my path.