I’ve been obsessively adding subscriptions to my Google Reader account for months now, and I like to think I’ve picked up on some trends in the advice given by the pros in the literary industry. My Top 10 list:

10)       Authors need agents unless they’re super-awesome lawyers and marketers on the side.

9)         Always spell “query” correctly.

8)         Don’t be lazy; research agent/editor genre preferences and submission guidelines.

7)         Agents are people too (mostly…I’m pretty sure). Don’t be afraid to add personal touches like “I am also from the Midwest” or “I hate the Yankees too” that show you’ve done your research and really do think the agent will be a good fit.

6)         Flattery is rarely a bad thing (but save it for the end; sell your book first).

5)         For most authors, signing with a literary agent is entering into a long-term relationship. Make sure it’s a good fit.

4)         Do not send a generic email to a long list of agents. Address them by name and use separate email messages for each query.

3)         If you’re a fiction author querying your debut novel, have it finished (polished, critiqued, book proposal, the works) BEFORE sending query letters/emails. If you do get a request for the full manuscript, you need something to send!

2)         Read, read, read. (I love a good excuse to read more)

1)         If writing is what you really want, don’t give up! Publishing is about timing and fit. Work to find people as passionate about your work as you are, and in the meantime, start another book, build your platform, and improve your craft.

What lessons have you learned?

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