Sample Material: do’s and don’t’s

When asked to send sample material follow these guidelines:

– Most obviously, send your manuscript in the file format that is asked of you. Often times authors send in material in pdf or rtf when we specifically ask for doc or it is password protected. This is a simple task that allows the agent to smoothly open the file and convert to their e-reader without a hassle.

If you don’t have sample material to send: honestly respond to the email with your situation. However, please do not query if you have not finished your manuscript.

If your first three chapters (fiction) are in combination less than 30 pages: please send your first 50 pages instead. 12 pages are not enough sample material to assess the quality of your work. Take initiative.


Don’t send the manuscript the very second you receive the email asking for material. Read it over again, read it aloud, read it to a partner. You only have one shot to make a first impression.

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

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