In my last couple of posts, I’ve talked about how other writers may help us in many ways, but it’s still up to us to do the actual work. There’s no better illustration of this than a deeply embarrassing incident from my early days as an aspiring writer. I had been publishing book reviews in the local paper, when a fellow I knew from writing class mentioned that the biggest paper in town had just hired a New York mover and shaker as their new book editor. I should send in a query, he said. Her name was Ellen Parker. (This is not really that editor’s name. I’m still too chagrined to admit who it really was.) I dutifully crafted a query, attached some published samples and sent it off to said mover and shaker at the paper. Never heard a word back. No surprise there. Big paper, lots of competition, already an established stable of contributors, etc. But then I saw her name in print: L.N. Parr-Kerr. Sheesh. I thought I knew what I had heard, but never bothered to follow up with fact-checking. Now I follow the advice from the old tailor’s saying: measure thrice, cut once. I check and re-check names, titles, requirements. Maybe given the odds, I wouldn’t have gotten an assignment anyway. But why take a chance on sabotaging one’s chances with a bad first impression? Lesson learned.