Every now and again, I wonder about the courting techniques of men. And of male writers in particular.
As we all know, courting is about pretence. It’s a game. And I like that game – if it is played well.
I am sometimes approached by writers directly – always men, never women. And frankly in most cases, I’d like to have a word with their mothers. Apparently they have never taught their sons the art of gallantry.
So, because their mothers didn’t do the job well enough, may I point out some of the fundamental principles of courtship.
The most important rule: If you try to chat up a woman, look her into the eye and not straight passed her. And if the lady is a publisher, that means look at her website and find out what she publishes. Then, ideally offer her what she wants. If, however, you haven’t got what she wants but you still want to try your luck, take her rebuff in a light hearted spirit. In that way she might at least keep a pleasant memory of you.
If she fails to reply, be patient. Under no circumstances, resend your email every other day. Generally she tries to respond to every email but if you’re email is the third or fourth in the day offering her a 500-page novel, while she is only interested in novellas, please forgive any delays. If you then ring her, be prepared for a polite but firm “No, thank you.” To which you ought to reply with a nice, cheery good-buy and “hopefully our paths will cross one day”. Don’t put down the phone in a huff. Also, do try to avoid ringing her on weekends. Her husband might answer and will tell you that he is only the publisher’s husband and can not decide what is published and what not. Furthermore, don’t feel obliged to write letters to her husband requesting that he put in a good word with his wife. The husband always shows such letters to his wife. And the wife is not impressed.
I am now letting you into a secret – a secret I will tell my son in due time: Women are simple creatures. Give them exactly what they want, wrapped up nicely with lots of compliments – and yes, most women do know what they want . Better still, if the lady is a publisher she tends to announce what she wants on her website. Read carefully, respond well - and you will be a happy man.