The Hairball Sandwich And The Delete Button

One of my all time worst take out experiences happened in high school. I won’t mention the restaurant, but talk about gross!

The take out experience started just like any other. We walked to the counter and placed our order. Fifteen minutes and a great discussion about cute boys later, we walked out with our sandwiches.

On the way home I was thinking about the tasty contents of my lunch. The smell wafted out from the bag tantalizing me to snack a bit on the way home, but I resisted. Boy am I glad I resisted.

When we reached home, I unwrapped my sandwich ready to dig in. I lifted the bun to check if they remembered to skip the onions. Yikes! On the inside was a hairball the size of a baseball. I kid you not. It just sat there glaring back at me.

The first thought that entered my mind was ewww! The second was whoever prepared my sandwich needed glasses in the worst way. How could you miss it before putting on the bun?

Now, I check ALL of my sandwiches before I eat. It is merely an exercise in survival.

You wouldn’t put a hairball in your sandwich, so why should you put one in your book proposal and sample chapters? Oh, we have all done it at least once.

I’m ashamed to admit, I once forgot that I was test driving character names for my male POV character when I hit send at midnight.

NEVER, EVER HIT SEND AT MIDNIGHT! Wait until morning when you are thinking straight and your eyes focus.

Last Minute Hairball Checklist Before You Hit Send:

1. Is it Morning? If not wait for it…

2. Did you spell the agent’s name correctly?

3. Did you do a spelling and grammar check?

4. Did you do a Find and Replace search for words you use too often?

5. Did you read the agent’s submission guidelines?

6. Has somebody besides your mother critiqued this work?

7. Does the agent even represent what you write? Are they reputable?

8. Is your personal information correct? Is your name in the header on every page?

9. Did you attach the proposal and sample chapters to the email letter? (Don’t laugh, I’ve forgotten this.)

10. Do you have plenty of white space on each page? (A mixture of text and dialogue)

11. Did you have any -ly words in your submission? (Cut 99.9% of them)

12. Did you start with action?(Your character waking up does not count.)

13. Did you eliminate passive verbs and replace them with stronger ones?

14. Did you reread your proposal and sample chapters before hitting send?

15. Did you pray over your submission?

What other hairballs do you look for before submitting? What is the worst hairball you’ve submitted?


About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

8 thoughts on “The Hairball Sandwich And The Delete Button

  1. Oh, definite wait until morning! I once sent the wrong file. Had to email the editor the next morning, apologizing. *blush*
    I’ll keep this list handy.

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    Yeah, there is nothing like wanting to hide under your desk and wait till everyone forgets the brilliant mistakes you’ve made. We’ve all made them though, so no one is alone.

  3. Michelle Lim says:

    Yep. They are human, too. Thank goodness!

  4. bethkvogt says:

    Graphic, almost-made-me-gag example, Michelle. But you made your point. Oh, yes, you did.

  5. Michelle Lim says:

    Sorry your stomach didn’t care for the example, but glad the point was hammered home.

  6. jeannemt says:

    Wow. I guess I’ll be checking my sandwiches from now on. Ewwww. 🙂 Michelle, I appreciate your indepth check list to eliminate hair balls from submissions. When I someday begin sending them. 🙂

    The only thing I’ve done, so far, is use an unusual word twice within a few paragraphs in a recent contest submission. Just discovered it yesterday. Didn’t even think to check for it, because it’s not a word I use very often. 🙂

    Kepping this list. Thanks!

  7. Michelle Lim says:

    You bet, Jeanne! I have to look over this one sometimes, too. In all the excitement surrounding the send button, sometimes I don’t think straight. Glad you find this helpful!

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