Tag s | Pitching

WHAT Were They Thinking??

You know, one of the things I’ve learned since becoming an agent is that people have an odd sense of what’s appropriate. Happily, quite a lot of what I receive is well prepared and enjoyable to read. But I’d have to say that anywhere from a fourth to even, on a bad week, a third, of what comes in falls squarely in the “I don’t THINK so” camp.

So here, just to help you avoid such things, are some of what came to visit me in the last month or so.

Please, my friends, do not:

Send queries. Just queries. It says—twice, mind you—on our agency website guidelines to please not send just queries. Why? Because we can’t make a decision about representation based on a query. So save us both a little time and just go ahead and send in the full proposal.

Respond to the agents assistants when they tell you what you’ve sent in isn’t what the agent needs for review by saying “Sure it is. Just send it to the agent.” When I heard this, I shook my head. I’ve made it clear to my assistant that I need the information in a full proposal, so she’s to request that. So why on earth would she go against what I’ve asked of her? And why on earth would someone demand she do so?

Paste your proposal into the body of the email. We need those proposals in a document, Word or PDF, whatever. My eyes thank you.

Send a proposal for a type of book the agent doesn’t represent. (How, you ask, can you know? Check the agency’s website. Most agents list what they do and don’t represent. And no, your proposal won’t change the agents’ minds. Honest.)

Send an email with a hyperlink to your writing, saying “Check out my book/writing here.” Not gonna happen.

Respond to the agent letting you know s/he is going to pass on offering representation by asking him/her to critique your proposal and tell you how to make it strong. As much as we want to help, we just don’t have the time to do that. Besides, there are plenty of places online, including most agency websites, that give the basics of creating a strong proposal.

Send an email in 6 pt type. Yeah, SIX point. Makes my eyes hurt just remembering that one. I realize some computers don’t make nice together, and the typeface may leave your computer at a perfectly fine 12 point type and land in my inbox in a perfectly minuscule point size. Know how to avoid that? Use Time Roman, 12 point type. Most computers “see” that the same.

Send your proposal email cc’d to a list of 50 agents. Please, send one proposal per agent.

Put in your email that, if the agent isn’t interested, you’d like them to recommend another agent who would be. Why not? Because it’s your job to do that homework, not ours.

Send proposals to a Christian agent that contain:

Graphic sex

Voodoo spells and conjures


Alternate life-styles

Reasons the organized church is Satan

Send an email that asks the agent to pass on the url for your wonderful book to their many friends and contacts so that we can all jump right on over to that site and buy said book.

Mistake hyperbole and arrogance for marketing copy or confidence. What do I mean? Well, don’t say in your pitch that:

your writing is the most amazing writing the agent will ever read

your book idea is the most original idea the agent will ever have seen

your book will sell a million and make you both wealthy

the agent will regret it for the rest of his/her life if s/he passes on this opportunity

(Yup, I got all four of those in the last three weeks. And darned if they weren’t all dead wrong.)

So you can see that some days are a bit of a…challenge. But here’s the good news: YOU! You folks are here, reading the agency blog, because you want to be educated and to do things well. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!

I appreciate your hard work, and you, a lot.




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Work First, Book Second

For successful authors of non-fiction, no one career or life-path is common. Family situations, upbringing, education and experiences are unique to each person. Listening to an author explain how they became successful is always a combination of things someone else could never duplicate perfectly. It’s like someone giving a business …

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Awhile ago I received a call that illustrates a common error a writer can make when making their pitch…The problem of not knowing the genre in which they are writing. The call went something like this: Writer: I’m calling to see if your agency handles Westerns. Agent: That is a tough …

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Acquisitions Director: God

This subject has been covered before by smarter people at our agency, but I am hoping that Steve Laube considers imitation truly the greatest form of flattery! Every aspiring or experienced Christian author is alerted to avoid mentioning that “God told me to write this book” when speaking to an agent …

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News You Can Use – June 25, 2013

Elevator Pitches: If You Build it, They Will Come. – Excellent post from Susan Spann! Do the exercise on your own pitch.

Christian Stores See 8.5% Overall Gain in 2012 – Looks like the growth came from non-book items. That is good news in that it means traffic in the stores has increased and reversed recent trends.

101 Things to Do to Build Your Writing Platform –  My advice? Don’t try all of them at once, your blood pressure can’t handle it. But pick ten and see what you can do with them by the end of Summer.

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

Helen Keller on Optimism – Amazing. If she could feel this way (she was deaf, dumb, and blind), why are you complaining?

“Writing and the Brain” infographic. – You tell me. Does this help you understand how you think as a writer?

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News You Can Use – June 18, 2013

Self-Published eBooks Account for 12% of the Entire Digital Market – Watch the stats for trends.

How People Read Online – Does this mean I have to shorten my blog posts? And if I do will you still skip the last 2/3rds of what I write anyway?

Three Scriptural Cautions Against Self-Publishing – Do you agree or disagree? (and then read the next link below)

Three Reasons to Support Self-Publishing – A rebuttal to the previous link. I appreciate careful discourse and debate that does not devolve into chaos. This point-counterpoint is a wonderful example of how to conduct this type of conversation.

Did You Forget to Pay Royalties for Singing “Happy Birthday”? – A fascinating article which tells of a company who is suing to get “Happy Birthday” declared public domain. Ever wonder why restaurants all have their own song for celebrating birthdays? They don’t want to receive an invoice from the copyright holder who makes $5,000,000 a year in royalties.

3 mistakes to avoid when following up on a pitch – This article can be applied to pitching editors and agents too.

10 Blogging Tactics To Maximize Long-Term Results – Excellent advice from Heidi Cohen. I get this kind of question a lot from authors trying to use their blog to market their books.

The Overwhelming Force of “Gradual” – Seth Godin talks about building low and slow for maximum success.

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