So, you are ready to query, and you know which literary agents you want to contact. (Hint – if you need some help, check out the bottom of this blog post for some information on how to find literary agents, beta agents, and which path is best for you). Here are the things to avoid when querying Literary Agents.
1 – Sending Work Out Indiscriminately
Like applying for a job, sending out cover letters and samples of your work at random will not end positively. Agents want to know why you want to work with them, why you chose them, and why your work is relevant to their list. If you send work out at random, you are less likely to get a positive response and may even be rejected for a publisher that would suit a novel you haven’t yet written. Get a good name for yourself, focus on the agents that represent the work you have written.
2 – The Cut and Paste
I used to be a recruitment agent, and let me tell you, we can tell when a cover letter is cut and pasted, and it does not endear you to the applicant for one reason – other people took the time to address you personally. So those are usually the ones you will go with.
Agents can tell too. Instead of cutting and pasting the information in your cover letter and query, research the specific literary agent you are sending your work to, and tell them why you are the best fit for them and why they are the agent you would like to work with. The more research you do, the more likely they are to respond to you.
3 – Querying Too Soon
When should a person query? When your work is finished. A few things can come from querying too soon, and they are mostly: Panic, sweat, grammatical errors. If you send off a few chapters of a novel you’ve written before it is complete, and the agent requests the full manuscript, you will either have to tell them that it is not yet finished or write through the night to get it to them. Either way, the work will not be as good as it might have been initially, which is a real shame. So, don’t rush to print – finish your novel and then send it out.
So there you have it, all in all, the message is: Take your time, do your research, and show the literary agent exactly why you are the writer for them. The harder you work at this stage, the more likely you are to have a positive response.
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Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to talk about querying, literary agents, self-publishing, or anything to do with your writing life and process. I would love to speak with you about how you can move forward today! an move forward today!