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What Agents Hate: Part II (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: 5. Not telling agents a project's history. Some authors don't reveal that the book has already gone to twenty publishers. In these cases, an agent may spend time reading, editing, or developing the project and then unknowingly submit it to editors who have already passed on it.

See Part I of this series here.


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:

5. Not telling agents a project's history.

Some authors don't reveal that the book has already gone to twenty publishers. In these cases, an agent may spend time reading, editing, or developing the project and then unknowingly submit it to editors who have already passed on it.
Don't be afraid to tell an agent that your book has been rejected. Agents frequently take on projects that have been shopped. They may work on them editorially, fixing them up. Writers should also inform their agents about all changes or revisions they've made since the book was rejected.

Image placeholder title

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

6. Writers who don't contact their agents when problems arise.

Frequently, when problems crop up, writers become frustratred and dissatisfied. However, had they contacted their agent, the agent might have explained the situation and helped them find ways to resolve it. Agents can provide creative second opinions. They usually have extensive experience in publishing, and frequently they are accomplished editors. They can also be a writer's best advisor.

7. Writers who say, "There is no competition for this book."

Rarely does a book have no competition. It's okay to say, "There is no product in the market precisely like this," and then point out how your book differs from its competition. List the closest or most analogous b

ooks and state how yours differs and is better. When writers claim that their books are without competitors, it tells agents that the writers didn't do the hard, basic research to identify and distinguish the closest books. It also makes them think that the writers won't do the necessary research to write a solid book.

8. Writers who call their agent too much.

Agents are busy; if you call them constantly, you'll drive them crazy. So limit your calls, create an agenda for the calls you make, and while it's nice to schmooze and talk now and then, keep in mind that they are running busy operations.
Many agents who are sole proprietors don't have staffs, so they do most office tasks themselves. Find out when it will be convenient for them to speak with you, and schedule a phone conference at a time that will work for you both.

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