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:
Voodoo spells and conjures
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.