In the tradition of David Letterman’s Late Show Top Ten, the submission strategists at Writer’s Relief want to share their expertise on what you should avoid when submitting your book to literary agents.
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10) Ask agents to offer a detailed critique of your manuscript. Your request might make them roll their eyes, but who cares? You need feedback.
9) Be a sore loser. Name-calling or bad-mouthing agents on your website or blog is a great start to making friends in the industry.
8) Miss deadlines. If you promise a synopsis within a week, two weeks is just fine. Agents have nothing to do except wait for you and your work.
7) Nag. Call agents every week, show up at their offices, send carrier pigeons to alight on their apartment windowsills.
6) Start off with overlong, drawn-out descriptions of the scenery or backstory. You’re going to get paid per word, right?
5) Be a know-it-all. Nobody can tell an agent how to do his/her job better than you.
4) “It was a dark and stormy night…” Clichés are great starters. If it worked once, of course it will work again.
3) Use gimmicks. If your book is a historical novel about the potato famine, send a sack of potatoes.
2) Send a quirky query letter. Use paper in a bright color and spray it with your favorite scent. Or send a photocopy of a handwritten letter. It’s all about that personal touch.
1) Query the wrong agents. Agents who represent only sci-fi will love reading a memoir about your life as cowboy living in Hawaii.
What tactics have we missed?
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