Thursday, 13 March 2014

So what if your mum liked it?

I have been talking recently to one or two writers about the challenges of getting published. It can be a dispiriting business so perhaps this will help. There’s a terrific survey that came out some time ago about the mistakes that aspiring writers make when approaching literary agents.
Based on responses from more than 50 agents, it included the following no-nos when submitting manuscripts to agents (and publishers, I would suggest):
* Saying ‘Go to my website for a sample of my work”
* Talking about the book’s sequel
* Pitching more than one book at a time
* Writing a submission that lacks confidence
* Writing a submission that is over-confident or pompous
* Sending a submission that has clearly not been proof-read
* Queries addressed to "Dear Agent" (or anything similar)
* Vague letters.
* E-mailed submissions with more than one agent listed in the "To" field
* Submissions that have no clue what the agent represents, or that have no clue what the agent's submission guidelines are.
Avoid these pitfalls and at least you give yourself an edge. One I would add relates to the covering letter. Do try to avoid the words ‘my mum read this and she reckons it’s the finest novel she has ever read’ or something similar. That’s a good way to get your manuscript heading its way bin-wards!

John Dean

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