Mistake 57: Stalking

70 Solutions to Common Writing Mistakes by Bob Mayer, from The Writer’s Digest Writing Kit

Why this is a mistake: Who likes to be stalked? Agents and editors certainly don’t, and neither do authors. Every editor and agent has at least one stalking story to tell. Most are humorous, but some of them are scary. And who hasn’t heard the infamous story of an overeager writer shoving her manuscript under the bathroom stall?

There are levels to stalking. Some people push too hard to try to sell themselves and their writing. Socializing is an important aspect of conferences, but that doesn’t mean you stand there pitching over cocktails—no matter how tempting. No one will want to come near you.

The solution:
There are obvious times when it is inappropriate to pitch your writing, such as when an editor or agent is with a current client. Don’t be overbearing. Let other people talk about themselves. Invite them in. Let them ask you about your book. Let the quality of your writing and your idea speak for itself. If someone isn’t interested in it, let it go. You can’t force your writing on an editor or agent. Let a social situation be a social situation and don’t force it to become an awkward business one.

I always say the difference between being aggressive and obnoxious is that the aggressive person has a good manuscript and the obnoxious
person has a bad manuscript. That’s not very helpful in that we all think we have a good manuscript, but the bottom line is not to hurt your good manuscript with obnoxious social behavior.

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