3 Things to Avoid When Querying Literary Agents

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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Looking for a similar read? Check out the following:

5 Ways to Find An Agent or Publisher 
5 Ways to Find a Beta Reader
Traditional vs Self-Publishing – Which is Right For You?

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!


5 Ways to Find a Literary Agent or Publisher

Are you wondering how to find a publisher or literary agent? Let’s chat about five ways to go about it.

You will notice that none of these mention searching on Google. This is for a reason. When you search phrases on Google like ‘Publishers open for submissions’ or the like, what usually comes up is a selection of vanity publishers. Steer clear of these! Whatever you do, always search for publishing house or literary agent reviews before you send your work to them. If they have poor reviews, it’s best not to get involved. Remember – you’ve got the goods, so read on to find out how else you can find an agent or a publisher.

1 – The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook
One of my favourites, this book is released every year and is chockablock with information that could help you get traditionally published. It’s laid out in a very easy to read way so that you can search for those who specialise in your genre. At the very least, check out their website for fantastic resources and information – it’s an excellent asset for writers everywhere! This is for the UK market. The US market has similar with the yearly Writer’s Market, and for those in the same part of the world as I am, you can use the Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

2 – Agent Databases
Agent databases are essentially search systems primarily for agents, and they allow you to filter through to ensure you are finding someone who matches what you have written. Good databases are Agent Query or Query Tracker.

3 – Literary Marketplace
An old school site but with a lot of information at your fingertips, Literary Marketplace is a great resource! You can also find independent publishers here. So, if you are looking to bypass an agent and go straight to a publisher, this might be the resource for you.

4 – Twitter
What? Twitter? Yes! Twitter can be awesome for finding agents. You can use hashtags to find them, and you can also get involved in pitch wars. Pitch wars is an event run on Twitter where writers can pitch to agents and have their manuscripts requested. This actually works – so if you are looking to get involved, set up a Twitter account, and search the hashtag #PitMad. You can also visit to learn more. The next date for this is 2nd September 2021. You’ve got this writer!

5 – Research
The classic. Research books like your own, the same genre, type etc. and find out who published them, who their agent was etc. Create a comprehensive list and get going with your querying!

So, there are five ways to find an agent or publisher. If you ever want to talk about querying or anything related to your publishing goals, whether it is your definition of success or how to find the right route for you, get in touch! I’d love to work with you on publishing your work.

Enjoyed this blog post? Here are some similar ones to read:

Traditional Vs Self-Publishing. Which is right for you?
When to Follow Up With a Literary Agent or Publisher
How to Deal with Constructive Criticism of Your Writing

If you found this useful, share it with another writer!