The Literary Agent,
Dear Literary Agent,
I am writing to introduce myself. I am Footsie. I intend to start writing books quite soon and since you sell them I feel there will be much synergy in our relationship. I am clean, punctual and always eat my crusts. I am named after a highly respected stock-market index, which will give you an idea of my pedigree. I understand you already handle Dow Jones and DAX30 and they can both vouch for my bloodline. Is ‘handle’ the correct terminology, by the way? Words like that can be slippery customers and tend to leak into the tabloids, so I’d like to be sure.
I have made an extensive study of all things related to writing. I was in the top third of my class in hot-metal typesetting and know a thing or two about the history of calligraphy. I am currently apprenticed to Bob the Builder (no relation) to learn sign-writing. Where possible I intend to write only on finest vellum using a quill pen which will, I feel, give a certain dignity and style to my stories. I own five of the best dictionaries, all bound in hand-tooled leather, so I can bring some powerful words to bear on my writing. There seems to be a lot of plagiarism in the dictionary business, all five contain much the same words and the definitions seem to be just paraphrases of each other. Somebody should look into this.
Grammar is my middle name. I know my adverbs from my proverbs and only split an infinitive if it truly deserves it. My punctuation is a little haphazard but I feel this can only lend a certain naive charm to my writing. Any surplus commas can be recycled as bodily adornments for those tribes you see on TV who like to wear plates in their lips and, for all I know, teapots on their feet. This will demonstrate both my green credentials and my concern for ignorant savages, which can only enhance my reputation.
From my extensive reading I have concluded that there is really only one story in the world: people do things. The rest is just detail. I have an outline for my first novel. The people will be called Persephone, Michael, Wigwam and Skunk. It does no harm to show off your knowledge of Greek mythology, decent chaps appreciate that sort of thing. The second name shows the ordinary guy that I haven’t forgotten him, the third again demonstrates my concern for coloured folk, and the last shows my street credentials. I feel that my novel already has something for everybody. As for the things they do, I believe that skiing, dentistry, times-tables, crime and phlebotomy will be a pretty unique combination.
What happens now? I expect there will be a questionnaire and some forms to fill in. I won’t start writing my novel until you give the go-ahead, but I couldn’t resist trying out the first line. One day Persephone went skiing in the olden days, Michael drilled some teeth, Wigwam recited his times-tables and Skunk done a crime. I’m rather proud of that. Now all they’ve got to do is a bit of phlebotomy and the novel is done. Please send the forms and let me know when you want the book – not tomorrow because I have to return ‘How to Write Good’ to the library, but as soon as you like after that.