Literary Agent Dos and Don’ts


What 185,000 words looks like, copyedited manuscript for MAKERS, the office, Clerkenwell, London, UK.JPGphoto © 2009 Cory Doc­torow | more info (via: Wylio)
Found this post through Writer’s Digest at a Guide to Lit­er­ary Agents blog. Go there for the full arti­cle by Guest Writer, Lit­er­ary Agent Mol­lie Glick:


1. An enter­tain­ing but polite and pro­fes­sional tone
2. Mul­ti­ple forms of con­tact infor­ma­tion
3. Proof that you have researched and hand-picked an agent. (If you’ve got a con­nec­tion, were referred by a client or met the agent at a con­fer­ence, make sure to point that out early in your let­ter.)
4. Espe­cially for non­fic­tion: An author bio that demon­strates your plat­form and why you’re the right author for this project
5. A quick, catchy hook or “ele­va­tor pitch”
6. Mak­ing a case for the book’s built-in audi­ence
7. Espe­cially for non­fic­tion: Show­ing why your exper­tise and media con­tacts make you the best author for your project


1. Ask­ing what the agent can do for you, rather than demon­strat­ing what you can do for him/her
2. Ask­ing for a phone call or in per­son meet­ing before the agent has requested one
3. Query­ing for mul­ti­ple projects at the same time
4. List­ing per­sonal infor­ma­tion unre­lated to your book
5. Giv­ing ref­er­ences from peo­ple out­side the pub­lish­ing indus­try (such as say­ing your writ­ers group, your con­gre­gants, or your mother’s next door neighbor’s cock­erspaniel loved your book)
6. Com­par­ing your book to a commonly-quoted best­seller
7. Mak­ing broad claims that you can’t back up
8. A pitch for an incom­plete nov­els. (It’s OK to query with an unfin­ished non­fic­tion project, as long as you’ve writ­ten a pro­posal, but nov­els should be fin­ished before you start con­tact­ing agents.)
9. Overly famil­iar, aggres­sive, or incor­rect salutations

One Response

  1. Robert Says:

    Great tips! Thanks for post­ing this and for the link to the agents’ blog. Help­ful info for upcom­ing man­u­scripts and queries that I plan to send around.

    Report this com­ment

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