Here’s What You Don’t Want To Do
7. Don’t Be Arrogant
Never act like you’re the greatest writer to ever live. Nobody wants to deal with an egotistical jerk. No, your manuscript is most likely not better than Harry Potter. And no, the agent wouldn’t be lucky to represent you. Never say such moronic things.
Being humble can take you much farther in the writing world than acting like a condescending dick. No agent wants to deal with an unknown writer who thinks they are better than Stephen King. News flash, you’re not! If you do want to brag, do it by focusing on your meaningful writing credits at the end of the letter. But never be an arrogant jerk. You won’t find success that way.
8. Don’t Include Your Age
Including your age in the query letter doesn’t add anything beneficial. Some writers think it’ll impress an agent if they talk about what a talented or accomplished writer they are even though they are only (insert young age number here). This is humble bragging and won’t get you anywhere. Agents don’t care if you’re young and talented. They only care if you’re talented.
But here’s something you might not know. Including your age might actually create an unintentional bias on the agent’s part. This could make it more difficult to sell your book. Think about it; would you believe an 80 year-old could write a compelling modern love story about two teenagers? How about a 19 year-old writing about the anguish of divorce? It’s best to just not include your age.
9. Don’t Tell Them You Value Their Time
This might be a hard one to stomach. We know agents are busy people, so we feel we must let them know that we know this fact and value the time they took in reading our letter. But you don’t need to do this.
Agents know how busy they are. They don’t need you telling them this fact. But more importantly, this waste space that could be better used on selling your manuscript. Don’t sweat the pleasantries, just focus on giving them the information they want.
10. Don’t Give Them Writing Credits That Aren’t Meaningful
As mentioned earlier, you can add your meaningful writing credits to the end of your letter. This lets the agent know you aren’t completely new to the writing game. But ‘meaningful’ is the key word here. Bringing up other published books through a publishing house or work in prestigious literary magazines is worth mentioning. A popular blog post is not.
If you don’t have meaningful writing credits, just don’t mention anything. The agent doesn’t need to know that you have 50 fitness articles published online or you do ghostwriting for extra money. Only add what’s relevant to the work your trying to sell.
Hopefully this article helps some of you folks score that elusive literary agent. And remember, if you’re work is truly good, it will shine through. You just have to follow the rules and push forward. Never ignore submission guidelines and never be rude. These simple things will take you a long way.
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