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

Sunday, May 26, 2013

What NOT to do when querying an agent!

Hello again from your friendly neighborhood intern. After 6 months of reading query letters, synopsis, random quotes, the first 10 pages, 50 pages, and then full manuscripts of new and published authors, I've learned a lot. The easiest way for me to pass this on to you, my fellow writers, is by telling you what NOT to do. 


  • Tell the agent how many kids you have

  • Tell the agent that your kid is why you wrote this manuscript

  • Tell the agent that your heart is so filled with love over your new baby that you had to write this manuscript

  • Tell the agent that being a mother/father is why you had to write this manuscript

  • Tell the agent that being a mother/father allows you to see what a baby would love or a child would love to read

  • Tell the agent that these are stories that you tell your baby or kid every night

  • Tell the agent that your kid wrote this manuscript and you thought it was so cute and should be published

  • Tell the agent that your kids read this manuscript and loved it

  • Tell the agent anything at all about your weird, loving, awesome family in general

  • Tell the agent that you have an amazing wife or husband on your side

  • Tell the agent that your wife/husband loved the manuscript

  • Tell the agent about the horrible accident you survived that put your writing on hold but now you have the time to write again - unless it has something to do with your story at hand

  • Tell the agent your entire sob story about what ever issues you have

  • Tell the agent that you are starving or living on the streets - unless it has something to do with the story at hand

  • Tell the agent about your drinking problem, unless it pertains to your book at hand

  • Tell the agent your age - no matter what it is

  • Tell the agent anything personal about yourself unless it has to do with publishing, writing, or your degree in writing or the like

  • Tell the agent that you have a degree in milk or anything else that is not a writing degree unless it pertains to your story at hand

  • Tell the agent because you are young, in high school, or in college means that you write better young, high school, college characters - it doesn't!

  • Tell the agent that they are beautiful, that they have a pretty face, that they have knowing eyes - creepy!

  • Tell the agent that if they pass on your work they will regret it - sounds scary or crazy or full of yourself

  • Tell the agent that your book is better than Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Scorpio Races, Shiver, or any other big book out there!

  • Tell the agent that you know that your book is going to be the next big thing

  • Tell the agent to go to your website for information about you or the book - this should all be in your query letter - and submission

  • Tell the agent that you've had big sales with your self-published book and then not include the sales - we want to know - how many?

  • Repeat words found on the agent's website - they know what they are looking for - just talk about your book

  • Tell the agent anything about your tough schedule - like you have a day job and it's so hard to get time in to write - we all have day jobs!

  • Tell the agent you met them when you did not - they do look up names at past conferences & they have amazing memories

  • Tell the agent that someone in the business recommended you if they did not - they do check

  • Tell the agent that you are a new writer, this is your first book, that you don't know what you are doing

  • Tell the agent that your friends told you to query your book - but you're not really into getting published

  • Tell the agent anything that is not professional - this is a business and you are not friends yet with the agent you are querying

The only thing you should remember is the last Don't. This is a business, a serious business. Sometimes because it is creative, and very emotional for writers, they are emotional and relaxed in their query letters. 

Remember this is a business person you are querying, not another writer, even if they've written a book. They chose to be on the business side of things. They are professional. They deal with N.Y. professionals, and L.A. professionals, and professionals on the other side of the pond. They must represent you as a professional. Make it easy on them by being professional. 

If you don't know what professional means because you are a newbie writer, a younger person, or you have never worked in the business profession for any reason, or you're too emotional about your manuscript, ask for help. Have a business person look at your query letter. Tell them it is supposed to be a formal query about your book and about you professionally. 

Take their advice, and mine, and be professional.

Good luck!
And as always,

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