Although I’m self-publishing, I know at least a small group of followers are going to/already are pursuing literary agents.  So here are some comments from real literary agents:

Fails:

“Why would a writer send me a query written in BOLD blue text? I could not get past the first paragraph.”

– Louise Fury, The Bent Agency

“It’s an automatic rejection when the author misspells his own last name.”

– Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Co

“I have also written numerous novels that are not yet published since most agents are too busy to answer”

-Chris Guillebeau,  Author of The $100 Startup

 

Now that we had some fun, here are some tips:

“Sometimes I pass on projects that I think are good and sellable, but I know I’m not the right advocate for it.”

– Katie Boutillier,  Donald Mass Agency

“If I don’t meet your main character on page 1 I’m somewhat disinclined to read page 2.”

– Carlie Webber

“Don’t start [your mystery/suspense] off with your character waking up for the day.  Even if they’re a kid and it’s the first day of school.”

– Lane Heymont,  Seymour Agency

“A query in which an author criticizes other agents isn’t appealing.  Explain previous agent relationships w/ professionalism.”

– Jacquie Flynn, Joelle Delbourgo Associates

“Do your homework when deciding whom to submit to and where to submit.  Knowing your audience can make all the difference.”

– Brooke Warner, Warner Coaching

“May I ask you guys to not flag your query email  as “high priority”, please? Thank you.”

– Julia A. Weber

“Most agents don’t expect exclusive queries, but if you use EXCLUSIVE QUERY in your subject, don’t use Dear Sir/Madam.”

– Wolfson Literary

“As a young agent, with the importance of building my list, I tend to have a narrow focus on the certain projects I take on.”

– Katie Boutillier, Donald Mass Agency

“Follow submission guidelines, follow submission guidelines, FOLLOW SUBMISSION GUIDELINES.”

– Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency

“Sometimes when I am overwhelmed by the amt of queries I have to read, I look at the ones with the coolest titles first.”

– Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

“Don’t forget to tell me what your book is actually about.”

– Beth Phelan, The Bent Agency

So there are some good tidbits here.  I was able to find all of these through Twitter, which is actually a great/essential place to be for when you start the publishing process.  If you don’t have an account, it’s a good thing you’re already on the internet.  Go ahead and make one now, and start following these agents!  Sometimes there are even #pitchevents, which are great ways to cut in line when it comes to querying.

NOTE TO AUTHORS LOOKING TO QUERY

You’ll notice that I quoted Katie Boutillier twice, and The Bent Agency multiple times.  Definitely query these people.  Katie is wonderful, and was the first agent to express an interest in my work.  She is great with giving feedback, and extremely nice.  The Bent Agency has an excellent reputation, and are very quick with their response times.  At The Bent Agency, I recommend querying Beth Phelan first.  DO NOT query all the women at TBA at once.  They will not like that.

More querying advise to come!  Hope this helped some of you out.

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