I am the cousin of one of your authors and she recommends you highly. I am a good writer, probably better than[name redacted]…
This is not a selling point. It’s nothing more than saying, “My work is better than hers, so nyah, nyah.” It sets my teeth on edge.
Never diminish another author to make yourself look better – especially if it’s an author we work with, for crying out loud. The subliminal message is that we have poor taste in our choices, but you are here to save the day. I’m not impressed, and the beagle – equally unimpressed – pulls out one of the Cuban cigars she stole from a pack of German Shepherds. You don’t want to be responsible for the delinquency of a smoking beagle, do you? Isn’t it bad enough she drinks?
If you are a friend or relative of an author and you’re querying their editor, compliments go a long way. “I love the way Author ABC’s book turned out, and it was fun to see how the editing process improved the quality. That’s what made me want to work with you. I trust your editing and the vision you put into my cousin’s book…blah, blah, blah.” This puts a positive light on your friend/relative and on the editor you’re querying. It says, “I understand and appreciate that you are a good editor, and that’s why I’m querying you.”
The original sentence makes you look like you’re thinking (with great snarkitude), “Geez, Cousin Blutto’s writing sucked stale Twinkie cream, and he got published. So why can’t I?” Instantly my thoughts are; you can’t get published ‘cos you’re a jealous, competitive sourpuss, and the holidays with you must invite lots of drinking for your family.
You never get a second chance to make a good impression, so make sure that what you send out always strikes a positive tone.
Another way to put me off my feed is to call me to ask what kind of books I accept after I already told you to look at our website submissions guidelines during our first phone call. “I see what you don’t take,” sez they in all earnestness, “but I can’t find what you do take.” Envision head banging on desk. My head. I wonder if the caller is simply incapable of reading or they’re trying to get that vein in my forehead to explode. “Oh!” sez he in a moment of passing clarity, “there they are.” Yah, there they are, dude.
On second thought, maybe being off my feed isn’t such a bad idea. After all, I did eat more than my fair share of birthday cake…