Submitting your manuscript to an agent can be a scary process—especially when it’s your first time. What should you focus on? What should you say? Did you spell the agent’s name correctly? What if I mess up the submission and they reject me without reading my manuscript at all?

These are all valid concerns. Luckily, we have the answers you are seeking. So, sit back and learn. These are the 6 things you must do when submitting your novel to an agent.

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6. Use A Basic Query Format

You can mix things up and make your submission uniquely you to hold the agent’s attention, but you must also follow the agent’s submission guidelines. The easiest way to get yourself rejected is to ignore the rules the agent has put in place for submissions.

You may think following specific guidelines is nit picky, but one reason they are in place is to show you care enough about the agent’s time to do things the right way. We have turned down many story submissions here simply because the author didn’t feel like following our very basic guidelines. It’s disrespectful to the person or publication you’re submitting to. To simplify things, utilize this basic query format.

Basic query format:

  • Start with proper salutations and follow the agent’s submission guidelines.
  • Write a three paragraph letter including a description of the book and a brief personal bio.
  • Conclude with proper salutation.

Here’s an example:

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5. Explain Your Reasons For Querying The Agent

Now, you should’ve done plenty of research on agents before choosing one. Use the information you learned about the agent to explain why you chose them. You should never pick an agent at random. Remember, when choosing an agent you’re essentially choosing a business associate and possible long-term friend.

Your reasons for selecting a particular agent should be because of the genre they represent, the authors they represent, and what you think they can do for you and vice versa. You want to build a relationship with your agent and that means you should have some personal things in common. Again, the best agents are ones who become your friends.

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4. Give A Brief Description Of Your Book

Okay, we mentioned this in the basic query format above, but this is the whole reason you’re seeking a literary agent in the first place, so it’s kind of important to talk about. Specifically, you need to hook the agent’s interest immediately. That means giving your most enthusiastic, enthralling, crazy pitch for your book.

This is so much harder than you think. It’s easy to discuss your book, but it’s much more difficult to make it sound like something the agent HAS TO READ. Adding to the difficulty of the general pitch, you need to keep the book description short, too. The agent’s time is limited, which means they can’t or won’t read a long meandering book description.

Follow these tips to describe your book:

  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • Talk up the most interesting and dramatic aspects of the novel.
  • Only focus on the important plot points and story elements.
  • Discuss the parts that you think will hook the readers.

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Finish reading on the next page…

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