Query Letter
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Do’s & Don’ts with Agents



Do’s:

  • DO write a sharp, succinct cover letter.
  • DO send your very best material. This assumes that the content is the best it can be, but pay attention to form as well. Make sure it is a good clean copy, free of typos and other glaring errors that may negatively affect the agent’s appraisal of your work.
  • DO take note of the genres the agent is interested in seeing. If the agent indicates that he or she does not represent sci-fi, for instance, and you have a science fiction book, then a submission or even a query to that agent is a waste of everyone’s time and energy.
  • DO pay attention to that agent’s submission guidelines: they have them for a reason. For instance, if they ask only for your first three chapters, don’t send the whole manuscript.
  • DO give the agent an appropriate amount of time before following up on your submission. That amount of time varies from agent to agent, and is usually indicated in the submission guidelines or other information provided by the agent.

Don’ts:

  • DON’T expect the agent to sell him- or herself to you before they’ve read your work. All they want to do is take a look, and then they’ll decide whether they want to represent you.
  • DON’T call the agent, unless they specify otherwise. Send a good query letter-again, after taking note of the format in which the agent prefers to receive queries. A very few agents are open to phone calls on first contact, but they are the exception rather than the rule.
  • DON’T expect the agent to market your manuscript without a single change. It may happen, but it’s not likely. Even Hemingway was open to suggestions, and there are few books that could not benefit from a little constructive input.