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Top Ten Ways to Annoy A Literary Agent

Pitching for a literary agent is a tough job and it must be done right if you are to succeed. There is plenty of information available on how to approach an agent, on what they want to see and hear, but do you know how to annoy one? How to make sure that your work is rejected, and you never get another chance? Sadly, many authors do exactly this without realizing and then wonder why they are not getting anywhere. So, run your eyes over this list of 10 ways that you can very easily annoy a literary agent and scupper your chances of acceptance:


Starting your fiction novel with long and drawn-out descriptions of the scenery, the weather or a place. Agents don’t like a wealth of information right at the start of a story, and that includes long descriptions of a character or the backstory. It makes the story hard to get into and, to be frank, boring.


Starting a book with a well-worn cliché. Just don’t do it; it's tacky and nobody likes to read them.


Agents especially do not like you asking them for a fully detailed critique of your work or for a fully detailed and reasoned explanation of why they rejected you. They rejected you, that’s it. Period. They are not going to write you reams and reams to tell you why.


Writing a query letter that shows you really have no clue. They also don’t like query letters that are bragging, groveling or show that you have no real professional know-how. No matter how good your work is, if your query letter doesn’t impress them, they won't even look at your book.


Missed deadlines. If you promise to send an agent a synopsis of your book within 7 days, do it. If you can’t keep to that simple deadline, you have no chance of meeting the tougher ones the agent will impose on you.


Agents really do not like those who want to be a proper “part of the process”, especially where the work is best left to a real professional. Writers write; they do not impose their ideas for the cover art onto their agent and they certainly should not be second-guessing the legal advice an agent provides on the contract. Integrating is one thing, provided it is in the right way; being a pain in the proverbial is quite another.


Sending a query letter with the wrong material. If the agent you choose represents the Horror genre, for example, don’t send them any work of a different genre. That will annoy them straight off the bat.


Don’t be a prima donna. If you are lucky enough to get a contract, be grateful for it but don’t turn into a high-maintenance author who thinks he or she has hit the big time already – you’ve a long way to go and you’re going to need help to get there.


Authors who use gimmicks to get noticed. Thinking about writing your query letter in a sparkly pen? You’ll get noticed all right, but not for the right reasons. Don’t use any gimmicks whatsoever; it isn’t professional.


Immature reactions to rejection. If you publicly talk down an agent because they rejected you, all you will do is destroy your reputation and you will never be seen as a professional writer.

Be polite, be courteous, be thankful, be professional.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Anne-Marie Reynolds