Impressive, Most Impressive

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Impressive, Most Impressive

Impressive, Most Impressive

Impressive, Most Impressive

By Hadley Atwood


One of the best things an author can do when querying to a literary agent is to let their work speak for itself. Now, writing to literary agents is a daunting process. You’ve poured your soul into your work and are searching for someone to see the same promise and potential in it that you do. Why would a literary agent take you on if you didn’t have faith in your own work?


So, it’s only natural to want to include in your query positive statements about your submission.


The mistake is made when you let those statements overrun your submissions, such as sharing the glowing opinions of others who have read your work for you, being overly confidant that there is nothing in the world out there like your novel or what a great movie it would make. It may send up red flags that you could be challenging to work with or struggle with constructive criticism. Those aren’t the things that will make a literary agent want to represent you.


What they do need is to care about your protagonist and therefore what happens to them. At the end of your query and sample pages, they don’t want to be able to get the story out of their head. That’s where your confidence should lie, not with faint praise or your ego, but with your novel. Tell them a story an agent can’t forget, give them characters who challenge and inspire them. Show them something they haven’t seen before, don’t just tell them about it.


Agents receive so many submissions, you must stand out. From the start of your query to the synopsis to the sample pages, the agent should be engaged with your story. They should not be sidetracked with extraneous statements that really don’t provide useful information. If you have to rely on these statements to sell your story, you may want to take a second look at your submission. Find the weak spots and allow yourself the time to really work on them.


Read examples of query letters and synopses from those that have landed a successful deal with an agent and even a book contract. There are plenty of strong examples online as well as in writing books. Don’t sell your story short, give it its best chance to succeed. The agent wants to like your novel. The way it will sell is by not needing to use filler to pad your query and keeping the focus on the novel and it being strong enough to carry the burden of convincing the agent of the quality of your submission.

One thought on “Impressive, Most Impressive

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