Top Ten Ways To Annoy Literary Agents

Writer’s Relief
2 min readApr 5, 2017

Ready to submit your manuscript to literary agents? Here are some deal breakers you’ll want to avoid when sending out your submissions:

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 the wrong materials. Agents who specifically represent one genre (westerns) are annoyed by submissions of other genres (horror). And if a literary agent requests that you only send a query letter — don’t send your entire query packet with your synopsis and chapters of your book.

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 write their queries with silver gel pens on black paper or who include a miniature doll to represent their main character.

10. Reacting immaturely to rejection. Blasting an agent on your social media or blog for rejecting your novel will only tarnish your reputation as a serious and professional writer.

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Writer’s Relief

Author’s Submission Service Est. 1994. We help authors reach their publishing goals with targeted submissions to literary agents and editors.