Agent Communication: Do’s and Don’ts

ImageI know you courteous querying writers like to know how agents like to be communicated with. Someone asked on Twitter if I could talk about the do’s and don’ts of agent communication. Here some of my tips:

  • Be pleasant. There is a difference between confident and arrogant.
  • You only have one chance to make a first impression. How are you going to use yours? By following guidelines.
  • Don’t email to ask if you can send your query, just send it. While you might think that is thoughtful, we know that writers are going to query us so that extra step is a nuisance.
  • Take initiative. If we ask for a partial, three chapters, and your chapters are short make a judgment call. There is no need to double-check with us.
  • We get a lot of emails so please condense into one, don’t send several over the course of the day.
  • Some agents prefer the phone, I prefer email because I’m not at my desk all day.
  • Respect our time and understand our job. We balance a lot of things at once, including our clients and queries.
  • We like our clients to send us updates often: events they are doing, articles they have published, videos they’ve done, and other things they are working on.
  • Client concerns are our concerns. We like to be in the loop with the issues that our clients are going through and be the person they can come to for problem solving and troubleshooting.
  • Twitter is not the place to pitch or get into lengthy discussions about us and our business. (It simply isn’t the right platform for that.) However, there are often #askagent sessions going on that writers can pop into. I suggest following agents on Twitter and wait for those opportunities.
  • The query system is there–tried, tested and true–for a reason. Please respect it and our appropriate guidelines, all agents and agencies have their own. We don’t put them up for our pleasure, we want people to follow them closely. And we absolutely notice when people do.

These are my tips, and may be specific to my own personality, but I hope they give some insight into what we, as agents, expect. The theme of this post is that agents are busy people so sending additional emails bogs us down and instead of you seeming thoughtful it seems like you’re needy and we don’t need that. However, our clients are our first priority, always.

That’s all for now. Any questions about how to best communicate? 

Image via Robin Luciano

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.

4 thoughts on “Agent Communication: Do’s and Don’ts

  1. What a great post, thank you! I am always floored when people are rude to agents, especially during the process of querying them. Really? You think they want to read your pages when you are going to act impatient or snide?


    1. I think the biggest part of the process is self-awareness. People know when they are being rude on purpose, but sometimes they don’t know that their attempt at confidence is excessive and uninviting. Thanks for your note!


What do you think? I love hearing from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: