Though I have never queried an agent or editor, I can safely pull out a few no-nos when it comes to submissions. On the theory side, I have done enough research/reading. (You see, I’m hoping I could use some of it soon enough. Oh wait, for that I need a novel first. Argh.) And on the practical side? Querying agents is similar to selling your work as a freelancer (like pitching an idea to a magazine editor). In some ways, that is. So, now that I have those teensy-weensy obligations aside, let’s check out what can fail you, big time.
Shh . . .Don’t Tell Your Agent. . .
1. “I am still at page 5 of my manuscript but my story-idea is so strong you will keep wanting more”: Umm. Maybe, yes. Your idea is awesome. However, it is just that. An idea. And agents don’t sell ideas—they sell books. But you knew that already, right? So don’t even think about querying an agent yet. It is like selling when you don’t have anything to sell.
2. “I am in dire need of financial support; this book is my only hope”: That may be true and you may be being honest. The only glitch, though, is that you don’t have to. You are writing to an agent who will sell your book. Please don’t do it as if you were applying for a grant. Besides, it won’t gain you any brownie points with the agent. At most, they will find you unfit for the book promotion. Stick to the query.
3. “My story is a going to break all records!”: I’m sure even J K Rowling never said that in her queries (and still got rejected several times). Confidence is good; arrogance is not. Telling an agent what works is like telling a Noble-prize winning scientist how to peek into a microscope!
4. “I don’t have a website yet”: This is like cutting out better chances to be considered—seriously, if you don’t have a website, a blog or even a Twitter, keep the details out. If an agent likes your work, they are sure to search for you. Or they will ask your virtual whereabouts. Let them decide. Better yet, start making some noise online before you query.
5. “Dear Agent Edwarda”: Hmm. All well here. Except that it’s Agent Edward. Please use the right salutation/first-name/last-name. And please don’t change their sexes!
That’s about it. In short, turn up with a positive, healthy attitude toward yourself and show them your best side. Simple eh? Remember, agents are always reading the queries with an eye for rejection—they want to dash through the slush! So keep these tips handy; bookmark this page and use it as a check-list when you’re sending out that email.
But wait, before anything, to the comments lovelies!
Photo By BookMama at PhotoRee.com