When is a friend not a friend?

From guest blogger editorial consultant Cressida Downing

I get a number of submissions where the author, in their covering letter, mentions that they have put the manuscript out to a number of friends, all of whom loved it. They laughed, they cried, they think he/she should be published. This tells me nothing except that the author has kind friends.

Think about it – if your friend gave you their manuscript, mentioned they were going to send it to an agent, and asked what you thought (outside of a supportive creative writing group), what would you say?

So unless your friend is a publisher (in which case they will already have snapped you up if it’s that good) or a famous author, it’s not worth putting in your covering letter.

Yours, Cressida



Filed under Getting Published, Literary Agents

3 responses to “When is a friend not a friend?

  1. Raven

    It is a bit like those sorry folk who audition for the X Factor or Britain Has No Talent competitions – all their friends and family must have deluded them into thinking they were the next Mariah Carey or George Michael when in actual fact their singing is akin to a wild animal being mashed up in a food mixer…we all need encouragement but not that kind of encouragement. We know that getting published is hugely difficult these days and you do need real talent!

  2. Matt

    I recommend everyone writing a book find the thing that I have recently found: an honest friend. This is the kind who will give you unadulterated feedback and provide an outsider’s perspective on what you are writing, whilst asking nothing in return. This kind of friend will not need a mention in submission letters, because they will have helped your work to speak for itself.

    If you are getting feedback from friends and family, encourage them to give you twice as many negative observations about your work as positive. This will help to ensure that you receive the best kind of criticism: constructive.

  3. Shankut Somaiya

    Friends indeed.

    Once I wrote an article and asked few friends to read it. Their comments: ‘Luv it, man!’

    After few months I rewrote the same article but this time I made deliberate attempt to write ‘badly written’ article. I asked the same friends to read it. Again their comment were, ‘I luv’d it man, this is greeaat..’

    Then I left the article at work, on a desk of a colleague who hated me and my work. (I never found out why he really hated me so much as I was never in competition with him! I was in a different department then him!).

    On the following morning I found the article in my ‘in tray’ and stick on sticker prominently displayed on it. It was from ‘him’. He wrote:

    ‘I don’t hate you that much that you have to torture me with such badly written, composed, article. Shred the article, hope the shredder will be able to take it.
    Your FOE for ever.

    Foe indeed.