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Top Ten No-Nos for Agents & Writers

Pam is not happy with the submission.

We love the thrill of a new submission, we really do. But some days we get beaten down by all the misguided people who spew without thinking. To start 2014 out right, here’s our list of the ten best ways to get us to toss your proposal or manuscript with barely a glance.

1. Don’t compare your book to the top-selling books of all time. We can’t live with the disappointment.

2. Don’t use the word “spunky” in your pitch. To quote Lou Grant, “I hate spunk.”

3. If your book starts with the abduction, rape, and murder of a nubile 17-year-old, we’re probably done.

4. Menopause. Pregnancy. Exercise. Dieting. Self-help. No.

5. We don’t publish science fiction. Repeat. We don’t publish science fiction. Repeat. We don’t publish science fiction.

6. As is suggested by #5, please please don’t pitch us without taking three minutes to scan our website to see what we do. If you call us up and say, “Um, I was wondering if you publish young adult fantasy,” we might hang up on you. After we scream.

7. If you live in Brooklyn or the Boroughs, there are 8,000 publishers to connect with before you head west. Try them first, please. (We’re not that Prospect Park.)

8. If your main character is a non-humanoid mammal (gibbon, chimpanzee, orangutan, giant panda, orca) whose interior monologue provides commentary about human social structures, send 20 pages instead of 50.

9. We don’t hold with stereotypical conflicted-nation bad guys, especially when they’re from countries with whom the U.S. has a dubious past or present, e.g., Iraqis, Afghans, Palestinians.

10. Unless you are an accomplished professional designer or a writer/illustrator, do not send a proposed cover.

 

6 replies
  1. Lian Dolan
    Lian Dolan says:

    Dang. My next book is a Sci Fy thriller about a menopausal woman who falls in love with a terrorist who time travels to Brooklyn circa 2121. Back to the drawing board.

    Lian

  2. Linda Lee Peterson
    Linda Lee Peterson says:

    wait! wait! have you broken to news about Rule #8 to Karen Joy Fowler? Am not sure it’s ALWAYS a spoiler…I am ruminating on a thrilling tale about an otter. who is afraid of the water. meets a disgraced Olympic swimmer. romance ensues.

  3. Danny Brech
    Danny Brech says:

    This may sound crazy, but once upon a time, I lived in Hawthorne, Nevada and a friend named Patty Bryant for several years and then she and her
    family moved away to Utah and shortly afterwards my father who was in the
    Air Force was transferred to Germany. My question is can you tell me if
    this Ron and Patty, might be that old friend from Hawthorne back in the early
    1970’s?

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