What Agents Hate (Author 101 Series)

When writers try to get an agent, they are asked to run a difficult course, and run it under a microscope.  Although the level of scrutiny that writers receive is huge, it is definitely surmountable.  Read the following items that agents dislike and alter your approaches accordingly.  Agents hate the following items:

1. Inquiries that show writers have not done their homework.

This complaint usually fell into two categories: 1) submissions that are not the type of books an agency accepts, and 2) submissions that are not specifically addressed.
Do your homework.  Save everyone time and effort by checking the guidebooks and agents’ websites to learn what types of books they represent.
Submissions that are not specifically addressed are generally sent to “Dear Agent,” the agency, or “To Whom it May Concern.” These submissions look like form letters.  Address all correspondence to a particular individual and make sure thay you spell that person’s and the agency’s name correctly. 

2. Authors who insist that they receive unrealistically high advances.

Agents are experts at evaluating what books are worth, and since they receive a percentage of the proceeds, they try to squeeze out top dollar.  Coming with demands of a “minimum advance figure” is a clear signal that you will be difficult to work with.

These tips excerpted from
Author 101: Bestselling
Secrets from Top Agents
by Rick Frishman and Robyn
Freedman Spizman.

3. Authors who try to be all things to all people.

Agents and editors prefer tightly focused books.  They told us that a writer’s audience actually expands the tighter the focus of the book is. An author cannot be all things to all people.  For instance, a writer may think that the market for her children’s book is ages four to 14, but four-year-olds want different books than 14-year-olds do.  A diet book aimed at young adults, for example, could sell better that a book that tries to appeal to all ages of dieters. 

4. Control freaks

Agents do not like to work with clients who are not willing to change proposals, manuscripts or strategies that can improve a book or its ability to sell.  The best authors are those who are willing to listen and are open to their agents’ advice.  Although agents aren’t the end all and be all, they are knowledgable professionals, and selling books is their business.  They have experience and can bring a certain perspective to a project that authors may not have.

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