A sock in the face doesn’t really smell that great, does it? Well, at least not if it’s one of my socks, because I’m a regular farm jockey. But how about yours? Even if your toes are sparkly clean like a “Tide” advert you’re gonna want to avoid the whole foot in mouth thing when you’re querying. After all, no one wants to eat smelly feet.
That brings me nicely (if not stinky-ly) to the topic of query faux pas (or f*ck ups, as they’re fondly known on my side of the pond – and hey, did you not notice I used “Tide” as a detergent as opposed to “Daz”? “Daz” is for us Brits who don’t know what “Tide” actually is). Anyhoo, let’s look at what blunders you don’t want to blunder into when you enter query land…
One - For the love of all things holy, do not compare yourself to the literature greats. Sure, you might be the next big thing, and sure, you might be as good as Dickens or Rowling, or gosh golly Mr. Shakespeare himself…but don’t, I beg you, tell an agent this. You will be fish slapped straight out of the query inbox and deemed “that” writer. You know who you are (and if you don’t, God help you).
Two - Keep your head on your shoulders and not on someone’s butt. Seriously though, I know you adore and silently (and please let it be silently) stalk agents on Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook…but you shouldn’t let them know that. Yes, they might have the cutest cat in the world, or they eat their chicken roll just like you do, but do not let this pepper your query letter. And don’t tell them they are the most amazing, wonderful, most beautiful person in the world and you’re going to just die if they don’t love you back. You’re just going to make them feel awkward as they slowly back away from you, looking discreetly for an exit (or a fire extinguisher).
Three - “You’ll regret it if you don’t take me on.” Seriously, guys. They won’t. Honestly. Trust me on this. “But people who turned down J.K Rowling must have regretted it”. Maybe, maybe not. Remember – an agent wants someone they can be passionate about. It’s not all about the money honey.
Four - “I’m sending you my first chapter and if you like it I’ll finish the book.” No. Enough said.
Five - I know agents seem to be the font of all knowledge, but hold your pretty little horses and stuff your mouth with cotton wool before you run off with some grand plans of using said knowledge. Honestly, I think some writers believe agents spout fairy glitter and unicorn dust from every part of their body. While they might (you never know) it is not okay to say, “Since you’re awesome, can you give me feedback if you’re going to say no?” Despite the fact they are super duper busy, it’s just not cool. If I walked up to you and asked you to critique my math homework even if you didn’t like it…well, you get my point.
-Fiona (aka the person with too much feet talk)