Making it Easy to Say No
Awhile back, someone asked me, “What are the Top Do-This-and-You-are-Dead mistakes people make in pitches, queries, and book proposals?” My answers:a Bore me.a Pitch something I don’t represent.a Pitch something that sounds derivative, been-there done-that, nothing unique.a Show me that your writing isn’t yet up to publishable level.a Approach it with the attitude: What the Christian world needs is… (your book, of course).a Criticize other Christian books, saying they all are trash but YOUR book is a work of literary genius.The following mistakes don’t necessarily ensure you’ll be dead. But they definitely drop you down a notch and make it easier to say NO.a Tell me there are NO other books like yours.a Tell me your book is great or amazing or that I’m going to love it. (You need to show me, not tell me.)a Address your query to someone who’s not me. (I just got a letter addressed, “Dear Judy.” Innocent mistake, I’m sure, but it doesn’t make a great first impression.)a Address your query in a way that shows you have no idea who I am. (Dear Sir/Madam or To Whom it May Concern)As you can see, some of these are about your attitude and your approach, not about your book idea at all. Agents and editors have to decide not just which books to acquire, but which authors they will be able to work closely with over many months or hopefully, years. If your first approach seems arrogant or overly-self-important, we usually don’t have much hope for a positive working relationship. This is a relationship business.So… whenever you’re approaching agents or editors, try to use common courtesy and remember that you’re trying to establish a relationship.