5 Things Not to Do When Submitting Your Book Pitch to a Literary Agent

  1. Never send your book proposal or manuscript with your query letter unless the agent’s guidelines specifically request it. Some writers believe that since they are pitching the agent anyway, they might as well submit the book proposal or manuscript along with their query letter and the agent will be so impressed with their writing that it will make the difference in landing representation. It will make a difference - by landing the writer’s submission in the trash. Agents barely have time to read a one-page query letter; if they receive an unsolicited proposal, that submission goes at the bottom of the pile to be read last, or worse, to never be read at all.
  1. Do not call the agent to pitch your idea, or to tell him that you are sending the query, or to ask if the agent received your query. An agent will consider such behavior too aggressive; agents want clients who will be easy to work with, not writers who will be pushy and demanding of their time.
  1. Do not show up at the agent’s office unannounced. Dropping off a query letter in person is probably the worst thing a writer can do to sabotage his chances of acquiring an agent. Always adhere to the agent’s submission guidelines. Violating requests or exhibiting aggressive behavior turns agents off.
  1. Do not include gifts or props with your submission. Including an object that ties in with your book’s theme may seem like a good idea, but it is not. Do not send a pen engraved with the title of your book, or a cupcake along with your pitch for a romance novel. These items will not help differentiate you from the crowd; instead they make a writer appear gimmicky, amateur, and desperate.
  1. Do not use fancy stationary. The publishing industry is a business. Agents want to know the author understands this. Always maintain a professional businesslike presentation.