Submitting Your Work to an Agent
I almost hit the “send” button when an avoidable mistake caught my eye. I loved the story. The author had an adequate platform, and his writing was good. So why did I pass on this author instead of sending his proposal to the agent? The writer cc’d about 50 other agents in his submission email.
I ‘ve seen many avoidable mistakes as a submissions reader and junior literary agent, some I’ve made in the past. I desire to hit “send” on your proposal and see you get published. I would be remiss if I did not share what I’ve learned. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of email submissions. These unnecessary mistakes could cost a book contract or agency representation.
Do follow submission guidelines- Not all guidelines are the same. Some agents want a query only, others want the complete book proposal. Also, the agent looks for authors who follow direction. Agents give action steps for authors; if an author cannot follow submission guidelines, the agent believes the writer cannot follow his instructions.
Do have a Social Media Platform– Let’s face it, writing is a business. The more people you know, the more speaking engagements you book, and the more followers you have, the more books you sell. If you don’t have social media accounts, choose two platforms and build your followers.
Do take time to research agents- Spell the name correctly. Research what genre the agent represents. I work for a Christian agent. He represents family friendly content as stated on the website. I’ve had three erotica submissions in one month. I’m so thankful for the delete button.
Do send an edited manuscript- Agents want to represent authors who are ready to publish. An unedited manuscript denotes unprofessionalism.
Don’t say “God anointed” your book and we must represent you– I’ve also read, “My book belongs in every school library,” “My writing is like J.K. Rowling, only better.” One person said that he channeled Mother Mary. Confidence is great–an agent loves to work with a confident writer. However, there is a fine line between confidence and exaggeration.
Don’t send your proposal to many agents in one email- Your manuscript will be rejected by most agents if you CC others. Send each agent an individual email. In the body of the proposal state “simultaneous submissions,” as this alerts the agent that others are receiving your work.
Don’t harass the agent with multiple emails- Agents are busy. Most submission guidelines give a response time. Three months seems to be the average. If you have not heard from the agent, chances are they will not represent you or your work.
Don’t give up– Agents desire to see you succeed. If one agent passes on your proposal, keep submitting to other agents. Meanwhile, make sure your manuscript is edited by a professional editor, have Beta Readers review your book, build your social media platform, and sharpen your writing skills.
If you follow these do’s and don’ts, you have a better chance of success. I know I’d love to hit the “send” button for you.
Cherrilynn Bisbano is a speaker, editor, coach, and writer. Her passion for helping people is evident.
She is Managing Editor at Serious Writers and Almost an Author, voted one of the top 100 writing websites. Host of Genre Chat and Fulfilled Prophecy Friday.
She is a two-time winner of Flash Fiction Weekly. You can find her published in Wolf Tech Group, Amramp, More to Life (MTL), Christian Rep, Refresh, Broken but Priceless, and other online magazines.
Contributor to Breaking The Chains-Strategies for Overcoming Spiritual Bondage
She earned her Leadership Certification through Christian Leaders Institute and continues toward a Women’s Bible Leader certification.
Cherrilynn proudly served in the Navy and Air National Guard; earning the John Levitow Military leadership award. She lives with her fifteen-year-old autistic son, Michael, Jr., and husband of 19 years, Michael, Sr.