Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Don'ts of Querying an Agent-recap

This past Saturday, at a Northern Colorado Writers workshop, Kate Schafer Testerman with KT Literary out of Denver, shared with the attendee's some tips of what NOT to do when querying an agent. These are all things she has seen authors do at one time or another. Here is a recap:
  • DON'T have a spokesperson write the query-write it yourself. It doesn't make you look good to have your best friend or mother send the query because you are too shy or you don't want your feelings hurt.

  • DON'T have your main character write the query-the letter should be in your voice.

  • DON'T imagine accolades-meaning, don't say that your book is sure to win a Pulitzer Prize or Newberry Award.

  • DON'T use other people (not in the publishing industry) as references-"My third grade class thought this was the best book they ever read." "My mother loved it!"

  • DON'T preach-if there is a lesson in the book, you should not have to explain it.

  • DON'T design the book-there is no need to include what illustrations you envision for a picture book, what you wan the cover to look like, how you want the pages laid out...this is just a query. You have to sell the idea first.

  • DON'T ignore the agent's submission guidelines-they are they for a reason. You need show enough respect for that agent to follow what they have asked.

  • DON'T send a generic form letter that clearly is being sent to a bunch of agents-personalize each letter you send out. Although the content of most of your letter is probably the same to the different agents you are sending it to, there are places you can customize it for each one.

  • DON'T list unrelated accomplishments-for example, if you are writing a romance, the fact that you have a degree in chemical engineering and love to scuba dive is totally irrelevant.

  • DON'T forget to put your name and email on your query.

  • DON'T forget to proofread.
By keeping these DON'Ts in mind, you will find more success in your quest to find and agent. To learn more about Kate and KT literary, you can visit her website at You can also read Kate's blog where you will find lots of helpful information about writing and agents.


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