I’m Still Blushing Over This

YA Highway’s Road Trip Wednesday this week asks:  What’s the biggest writing / querying / publishing mistake you’ve made?

It’d be rude not to answer.

I make plenty of writing mistakes, but those I can revise.

My biggest industry mistake, which still makes me cringe, actually happened a couple years ago when I applied for an internship at an Agency That Will Not Be Named.  I had been applying to a couple of other agencies and publishing houses, and I had some boilerplate text which I then customized for each letter.

This sounds like it’s going to be a forgot-to-erase-the-other-agency’s-name mistake.  Not so.

In fact, I pored over each letter before sending them out just to make sure I wouldn’t make that mistake.  When I sent out this letter to Kelly (names have been changed, for obvious reasons) at the Agency That Will Not Be Named, I felt like everything had gone right.  I hadn’t made any mistakes in the letter, made sure to change the agency name, and I did a lot of research on the specific agency to educate my letter.

Next day, I received an e-mail back.  Splendid!  What a quick response!  That’s great news, right?

In no uncertain terms, this e-mail explained that there was no “Kelly” at Agency That Will Not Be Named.  Thanks for my letter.  No internship for you.

What I cringe over, though, is that Kelly was not even the name of one of the other agents I was writing to.  Kelly was some imaginary name that my brain connected with Agency That Will Not Be Named.  So, my well-researched letter now looked like a cut-and-paste e-mail bomb across a ton of agencies.

Oops.

Would I have gotten the internship had I not screwed up the name?  Probably not.  But after the name foible and subsequent rejection, I decided that I needed to work on beefing up my resume.  That led to researching publishing MA’s, which led to researching writing MFA’s, which led to one semester at Hamline where I learned a ton, and that led to me taking a hiatus from the program because it was super-expensive and I was going broke, and all of that led to… writing.  Both freelance writing and fiction, full time.

And I love it.

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7 comments

  1. Sarah says:

    YAY for the mistake that led to awesome things!

    (As mistakes are wont to do.) It sucks so hard making a mistake like that in an email or on Twitter after you KNOW how much work you put into it, and yet some small tiny error makes it all look bad. *Hugs* Definitely been there!

  2. Abby Stevens says:

    Oh no! That so stinks. I’ve made mistakes like that before (not to agencies, so far, anyway, but just straight-up emailing someone and knowing full well who I’m emailing, but typing the wrong name at the top of it! Gah!)

  3. Rachel Bateman says:

    yikes! Here you are making sure that you are doing things right and not spamming like so many people do and one silly mistake makes it look as if you are doing just that.

    I’m happy it all worked out for you in the end.

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