Agent Monday: The Putdown – Are you Guilty?

photo (2)Happy Agent Monday to all!  Feeling low? Feeling less than confident in your writing?  Not sure you have what it takes?  Sending out queries?  Hm, time to check your query closely, because all too often I’m seeing ones that contain “the putdown.”  Writer’s putting themselves or their writing down in the query letter.  Are you doing this and shooting yourself in the foot?

So what’s the putdown look like?  When it’s about the work, it goes something like this: I know this sort of book isn’t very popular right now…  My book is like The Hunger Games, only not as good…  This is my first stab at this writing thing, so it’s not very good…  I can change anything you want, just say so… I know you’ve seen this before…

Think I’m exaggerating? Oh I wish.  These are all taken from real queries, and they are just a small sampling of the endless putdowns writers include when they should be hooking me with their idea. Folks, present a strong front when you send out a query.  Believe in your book, or work on it until it is something you can believe in.

The other part of the putdown is when the writer does this whole Eeyore type of thing about themselves.  It usually turns up in their bio paragraph, and it goes something like this: I haven’t done anything…  I don’t read at all… I know I’m not very interesting… My work has only appeared in insignificant journals…  Even my cat thinks I stink.

Again, all from real queries (okay, not the cat one…not yet anyways). Jeez folks, present your very best in your query and believe in yourself. Think happy thoughts. It’s okay to be positive and confident. You don’t need to undermine yourself every step of the way as if you’ll be jinxed or something.

And then sometimes there is the agent putdown.  It goes something like this: I know you only care about money… I know you won’t even bother to answer my query letter… I know you only help people who are famous… I know you agents think you are above us all…

*Wrinkles nose*  The only thing you’ll know if you put that in a query letter to me is that I will not be calling you to offer representation.

Ella up close!So keep it positive in your query and in all your professional dealings.  Best foot forward, people. Believe in your work and in yourself. And then I will too!


*Marie is an Associate Agent at the Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency in New York City.  To keep up with all her posts, subscribe to her site by clicking on the “Subscribe to Marie’s site here” link located on her page on the upper left margin.

4 thoughts on “Agent Monday: The Putdown – Are you Guilty?

  1. My cats think I am terrific! Thought i’d just mention that. I haven’t got to the point of writing my query letter…about two third of the way through my project, but when I do I will definitely remember this post. Thanks! Your little dog is very photogenic, too.

  2. For me – you’re the number one agent that loves dogs the most.
    Yeah – I just got a “puppy” so I am biased.

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