Tuesday, April 2, 2013


1. Smart is sexy. Be yourself. Seriously. When all the clothes come off, an agent needs to know what it will actually be like to work with you, so push-up bras and body-shapers? Keep 'em out of queries. Being authentic and genuine is super-attractive. Don't try to make yourself out to be more than you are, but don't be modest either. If you are funny, that should come across in your query, if you are genuine, you should make an agent feel that too. Don't be something you're not. You are trying to cultivate a life-long relationship here.

2. Good communication is the key to intimacy. Be honest. Don't tell an agent everything there is to know about you in your query, but don't lie about anything either. Neither of you will enjoy the ride if you do. If you self-published, that's something an agent needs to know. If you were previously represented, an agent should know that too. Past history counts in a big way and not just when it comes to STDs. Being honest is a huge turn-on and it might just help you both get to the place you place you want to be. Together.

3. Agents like quickies. Keep it short and sweet. If you can't explain your book in a sentence, it probably needs more work. I learned this the hard way. If you can't confine yourself to a sentence, a 3-sentence paragraph is more than enough. You can take your query to a second paragraph max, but any more than that (not including the bio) and you risk losing their attention. Short skirts are super sexy. So are short queries.

4. Up-close and personal. Don't send a form letter. Let the agent know that not only have you picked them for a very specific reason (they represent your genre, they represent similar books - AND you've read those books), but always make sure to get their name right, and spell it right.

5. Wear deodorant. Keep it professional. It's cool to mention that you know an agent's likes and dislikes (when it comes to book genres) it's not so cool to list every single thing they have ever tweeted about including ice-cream flavors, their favorite restaurants, and the time they send their first tweet every morning. That's creepy and stalkerish. Keep your distance. Mention one thing that shows you care, but not more than that. Sexy="I like the Yankees too!" Not sexy="I also had macaroni and cheese for dinner last night - we are soulmates!"

6. Lose your religion. Faith can be super-sexy if it's a part of your story or if you're writing for a certain audience, and you clearly state that in your query. Religion is not sexy when you try to impost it on others. So, even if you sign every email you send with "Darwin is God" - find a way to delete that signature when sending a query to an agent.

7. Personal ads. Bios are sexy if they don't read like personal ads. If you have been published - great! Mention it. But not if it was in your second grade newspaper. And if you have no previous publication credits, keep it simple. Telling an agent some fun facts about what make you you and what makes you interesting is way cooler than making up stuff you never wrote or mentioning embarrassing contests you won (yes, even if you won first place in the "I have a crush on my principal" Haiku competition, it might have been very impressive at the time but...it's not anymore.)

8. Agents don't do phone-sex. Phones can be really sexy if an agent calls you. Those kinds of phone calls get agents just as excited as they make you. That's about the only time that they are sexy. Ever.

9. Keep the lingerie off. Gimmicks might work great in the bedroom but leave all cute costumes and bondage gear where it belongs, in the bedroom, even if you've written the next "50 Shades." There is nothing sexier than plain black words on white paper in Times New Roman 12-point-font. Really. It's what agents' wet dreams are made of (well that and seven-figure pre-empts.)

10. Submit. No, not in that way, but following submission guidelines is extremely attractive. Breaking rules to get attention might work in a club or at a bar, but it's a huge turn-off for agents. It might even leave you out in the cold and deleted completely.

11. Keep your mouth shut. It's not that agents like their clients docile. But anything you say above and beyond the initial query contact can be a major mood killer. Don't respond. Don't follow up. Don't write a nasty response to a rejection. You will be respected and admired for it.

12. Foreplay takes time. Don't query an agent and then self-publish a month later. Query a set of 5 or 10 or 20 agents. Then wait. Do not prostitute a manuscript around to the entire publishing community over the course of a week, or even a month. Being patient is the way to land the agent of your hottest publishing dreams.

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