Updated September 2023
At Writer’s Relief our submission strategists are always on hand so our clients know the best ways to interact with literary agents. Even if you’re not a client, here are some deal breakers you’ll want to avoid when submitting your book.
1. Beginning your novel with long descriptions of the weather or the scenery. Avoid an “information dump” right off the bat, including drawn-out descriptions of the main character or backstory.
2. Beginning your novel with a cliché. If it feels even mildly familiar, skip it.
3. Asking an agent for a detailed critique of your submission or for a detailed explanation of a rejection.
4. Writing clueless query letters. Queries that brag, grovel, and show a lack of professional know-how are a no-go to literary agents.
5. Missing deadlines. Writers who promise a synopsis within a week should deliver.
6. Insisting on becoming “part of the process” in areas best left to other professionals. Writers should not push their cover art ideas on a literary agent or second-guess the agent’s advice on legal contracts. There’s a big difference between integrating yourself in the process in an intelligent, well-informed way and being a royal pain.
7. Querying with inappropriate material. Agents who specifically represent one genre (westerns) are annoyed by submissions of other genres (horror). Do your research, or have Writer’s Relief do it for you.
8. Being a prima donna. If you land a contract, this is not the time to become high-maintenance.
9. Trying to get noticed with gimmicks. Agents aren’t impressed by authors who use weird fonts, odd-sized typefaces, or fill their queries with emojis.
10. Reacting immaturely to rejection. Blasting an agent for rejecting your novel by blogging about them will only tarnish your reputation as a serious and professional writer.