Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Monday, May 6, 2013

QUERY NO-NO's

Hello my fellow writers. Another tip from your agent intern. As some of you know, as an intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, I read a lot so I can learn why the agents accept or turn down manuscripts.

I read tons of query letters, and then check to see if they've been passed on or requested. 


What I have noticed is this:


  • Newbie writers - the ones where this is their first novel - often quote our website word for word like, "I see from your website that you are looking for dystopian with well rounded characters." 



  • These same writers also sometimes say, "I have not been published before." or "I have no publishing credits."





  • Sometimes they try to joke with the agent they are querying as if they are already friends. 






  • Or they say, "I loved your picture on your internet and from your smiling eyes, I know we will connect."





  • This is for young writers, if you want your work taken seriously, do not tell your age. High school students and college students often say how old they are. Agents do not care. If your work is great, they will request it. But if you call out your age, they may assume you are too young for the hard knocks of this industry. It's not professional. No one calls out their age in an interview. 




  • Also, parents, do not query on behalf of your child. If your child is old enough to write, the child is old enough to query. Do not hold their hand here. 









NO! NO! NO! 

Do not be the writer who does any of the above.

1. Do not quote anything from our website. You are wasting valuable space in your query letter regurgitating what we already know we are looking for. Just state what your book is - that's all you need.

2. Do not call out that you have not been published before - chances are we can tell that already - but if we can't, don't ruin it. Let us believe you know what you're doing. Let us believe that you are not so green.

3. Do not joke with the agent you are querying. You are not friends. You don't know their personality yet. It's kind of weird. 

4. Do not call out physical attributes of the agent you are querying. It's not only weird, but creepy. Even if you are complimenting them, it's not cool. Be professional. You wouldn't go to an interview and tell the interviewee that they have smiling eyes, or truthful eyes, or any kind of eyes. Again, keep it professional. 

5. Do not tell us your age. High schoolers, you will soon find out that people stop revealing their age after graduation. It does not matter anymore. You will not get your foot in the door because you are young. Your writing is all that matters. Work on your craft. Make it the best it can be, then send it with no age revealed.

6. Parents, I know you only want to shield your child from rejections, but you should allow them to fail. Failing will make them more eager to succeed. Let them query on their own and receive rejections on their own. Of course, help them along the way, but let go of their hand.



Now that you have these 6 rules of the query letter down---send away.

Write~on
Angie







(Remember: These are my observations and do not express those of any of the agents at this agency. I'm just an intern....but I'm learning a lot.)


3 comments:

  1. Hmm...I have stated why I'm querying the agent, highlighting how I chose them--and yes, sometimes that was because I found on their website they were looking for my genre. It's an introduction--and I always get requests (although now I'm not searching, I've queried a lot of agents in my career.) I'm surprised you don't like this because I've read where agents do want us to tell them why we chose them. Very interesting!

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  2. You probably get requests because your writing is good - but use that space to tell about your book - not repeat what the agents are looking for - they know that already - and honestly - if your book is amazing and it's drama, and it says they're not looking for drama - they will look at your book. Agents don't change their websites super often - what they are looking for changes in a blink of an eye. So just talk about your book - it's strengths - and good luck!

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  3. I don't need good luck, as far as getting an agent goes. I have a super agent already! :-) I was just talking about my experience and about how some agents have said they want you to state why you're querying them in the first line, but I understand your viewpoint. Hopefully, I'll never have to query another agent again! LOL! And good luck to you!

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