if it’s too difficult for grown-ups, write for children

Wait, Don’t Tell Me

dontSeriously, don’t. Don’t use your query letter to tell me that your novel came to you in a dream; that you’re happily married with three kids, a dog, cat, and parakeet; that you hope to move to New York to pursue your dream of being a writer.

Don’t tell me that another agent is considering your manuscript like it’s an award you won.

Don’t tell me your age. I don’t care. (Aside: the people I see do this most often are teenagers, who are so proud of the few years they have that they have to tell everyone. I don’t care how old you are unless I love your manuscript and we’re talking about possible representation. And even then, I only care if you’re too young to sign a legally binding contract.)

Don’t tell me you were a third runner up on a writing contest in sixth grade, or a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award.

Don’t tell me you read an interview with me in which in which I explained what I was interested in seeing, and then send me something I don’t represent.

Don’t tell me you didn’t know how to cut your manuscript off after three pages, so you included more.

Don’t tell me more about yourself than about your characters.

I don’t mean to be flippant — well, actually, I do, because oftentimes, short and pithy, even if (a little) rude, sticks better in people’s minds than long-drawn out explanations of why you shouldn’t do something — but I have come across these “Don’t”s so often, I’ve noted them as a red flag sign of an inexperienced, unprofessional writer. And that’s not something you want agents to think you are.

I’m sure many of you who’ve been doing this for a while have additional advice to share — please do so in the comments!

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