Querying an agent is hard, especially when you are just starting out. I know, I’ve been there. But being on the receiving end of the query letter, it’s a lot easier to pinpoint some of the common errors authors make. So here is a short list of what not to do, in hopes of helping even a few first timers.
- Do Not Self-Depreciate. I am surprised by how many new authors do this. “I know it’s only my first novel, and probably won’t sell…” “I don’t have any education, or any real platform…” “You probably don’t have the time to waste on this…” The list goes on. Be confident. Confidence is sexy. Confidence sells.
- Do Not Use Bold Type, All Caps, Purple Lettering, or Italics. This does make your query stand out, but not in the way you are hoping. Agents look through many queries and manuscripts every day. Their eyes are beyond tired. Opening one of these emails is like being kicked in the head. You really don’t want that to be your first impression.
- Do Not Use a Form Query Letter. You want your writing to sell your work for you. Form letters tell us that you are either too lazy to write your own or incapable. Plus, inevitably you will forget to fill out something so what we will see is this: Dear (Agent’s Name), My book (Your Book Title)…
- Do Not Address Your Query To 50 Different Agents. We know you’ve sent out multiple submissions. But we like to think you are looking for an agent that fits you and your book and that you’ve done some research. Besides, I can guarantee you that the submission guidelines are different with each company. Which brings me to the final one…
- Do Not Ignore the Submission Guidelines. We don’t instantly reject or delete those that don’t follow our simple guidelines, but most others do. Do yourself a favor, go to the websites and make sure you follow the guidelines.
This is obviously not the full list of everything you shouldn’t do, but it’s a start. If you think it will help someone else, please share it around!