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Kim Tomsic

Saturday, December 30, 2023

11 Mistakes to Avoid When Querying a Literary Agent

Congratulations! You’ve completed and polished your manuscript. You’ve written your three-part query letter. Now, here are a few things not to do—no matter how tempted you are. Why? Because publishing is a business, and you want to showcase yourself as a professional.


11 Mistakes to Avoid When Query a Literary Agent by Kim Tomsic


1.     Don’t tell the agent that your mom, sister, classroom, and neighbor LOVED your book.

2.     Don’t call your manuscript a fiction novel (that’s like calling it a story story or a book story).

3.     Don’t submit to multiple agents WITHIN the same agency (but do send to your top five or ten agents at one time. Almost nobody expects an exclusive submission unless you’ve had that conversation).

4.     Don’t forget to ask your critique group to review it.

5.     Don’t pack your letter in an envelope and mail a query to a "green" office (and certainly don’t include rainbows and glitter!). Most agents only accept emailed submissions or online forms. Read their agency guidelines.

6.     Don’t skip the submission guidelines – notice if you are supposed to paste your manuscript pages within the body of the email, or if you are supposed to attach it as a Word Document. Don’t add attachments UNLESS the agent says they prefer to receive submissions that way.

7.     Don’t send a “Dear Sir or Madam” email and then email ten agents on the same outgoing message. Not only is it unprofessional and lacks the personal touch, but your email might also filter to their trash as spam. Avoid getting filtered as spam by refraining from adding special do-dads and gifs.

8.     Don’t misspell a name and please don't say "Dear Agent." Remember, address the letter to their name, spell it correctly, and let them know why you personally selected them.

9.     Don’t query an agent with a picture book manuscript if they only accept YA. Read their #MSWL

10.  Don’t query if they are closed to queries.

11.  Don’t query too soon. Slow down and make sure your manuscript is polished.

12.  Don’t worry! Be professional and let your writing do the talking.

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