I’m a big fan of online dating. It’s definitely a medium where a writer can shine. I’ve had very good luck so far using one particular site netting myself many dates and two steady girlfriends. I’m also a fan of querying agents. These days most agents accept some sort of e-mail query and one day it dawned on me that there were several similarities between the two. I had originally intended to submit this to the New York Times Modern Love column but it was way too short and I didn’t want to pad it. But I still think it’s funny and I thought you all might appreciate it. So here they are, the similarities between online dating and querying agents.
1) The first thing you do when you sign up for an online dating site is boil down your entire personality and being and dreams and hopes and quirks into a few short, tantalizing, well-written paragraphs. Sounds suspiciously like a novel synopsis doesn’t it? And then you have to fit yourself into a category. Are you a rugged men’s adventure or a sensitive romantic comedy? A brooding mystery or a techno-savvy thriller?
2) Next comes the research. You come up with some general parameters, things you’re looking for, things you need, things you want. Things you know you can’t stand. You may start looking blind, or go off friends or colleagues recommendations but you eventually come up with a list of about 20-30 possible partners.
3) Then comes the hardest part. The initial contact. You’ll probably come up with a general form letter that includes the best parts of your profile and then leave a paragraph at the beginning for some personalization. You don’t want to shotgun a form letter out to everyone and their online brother. Make it look like you put some thought into it.
4)In online dating, men are the aspiring writers and women are the agents. Female friends that I’ve talked to tell me their dating mailboxes are nothing short of a slush pile. For every diamond in the rough there’s twenty guys sending in hand-written messages from Jesus or psychotic love poems written in crayon.
5) You’ll send out a lot of initial emails. Many of the contacts won’t respond. Some will politely decline but others will want to see more. You’ll slowly reveal more information about yourself as each of you test the waters to see if the partnership could work.
The ultimate goal of online dating is the same as querying agents: A life of ease and millions of dollars.