For those of you who don’t already know, in addition to being an author, I’m also an Associate Literary Agent for the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency in NYC. I LOVE this job, but I gotta be honest…while I do sometimes discover great writing in my agent inbox, I also see plenty of mistakes being made. Plenty of queries that make me cringe and hit the reject button faster than I can sip my morning jolt of java. Are you currently querying an agent…perhaps even me? Then listen up.
#10: Send me something in a genre I don’t represent and then try to convince me that even through it’s about futuristic dragons, your novel is not high fantasy or Sci Fi.
#9: Tell me how wonderful the book is, using words like blockbuster and bestseller and hit, without telling me what the book is about.
#8: Don’t give me a book title, and give no mention of who the audience is or what genre it is.
#7: Tell me too much about yourself. You recently got a dog. You had a lovely vacation. You read books for fun. You work in a coffee shop, cleaners, are a housewife, like walks on the beach. You write letters to friends, you proofread your husband’s technical papers for him, you had a recipe published in a newspaper 20 years ago. You can hula dance…
#6: Don’t bother to spell check or proof read… Missing words, misspellings… One error, I say you’re human. FIVE errors and you’re in the wrong business.
#5: Use words the wrong way, because, hey, you spell checked and there are no wrong words in your query… But then you include stuff like “escaping her density” and “dying from a gunshot womb.”
#4: Address me improperly: Dear Ms. Marie Lamba, Dear Marie Lamba Associate Agent, Dear Ms. DeChiara, Dear Sir or Madam. And my personal favorite: Dear Ma Lamba.
#3: Contact me in inappropriate ways… Through other email addresses, by stalking me on facebook and then popping up on my facebook chat to have a nice little natter, calling my home phone! These are scary, people.
#2: Try to convince me, after the query and sample pages were rejected, that I’ve made a horrible mistake and that I shouldn’t reject the manuscript based on the characters, because this story is based on real life and every single person in the world will identify with the story.
And here, ladies and gentlemen, is the top way to NOT get an agent (insert drum roll, and cymbal crash!):
#1: After I politely reject you, send me an email that simply says, “You suck.”
So there you have it, 10 clear cut ways to NOT get yourself an agent. Sadly, I’m not making this stuff up.
Just remember, bad form will earn you a quick rejection. Bad behavior will have your email address shared with others in the firm and blocked as spam. On the flip side, if your query follows guidelines and is as professional as any business letter should be, you will give your manuscript a fair shake…and so will I!
For my submission guidelines, click here.
Wishing you success,