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11 Things You Should Never Do When Approaching A Literary Agent

First of all, if you haven’t yet had a pitch session with a literary agent, avoid my mistakes. I feel so bad about the good agent who was a victim of my approach at the annual CanWrite! 2015 Conference in June. Though I’m an admitted writer, even writers who enjoy pitch sessions might find my first pitch session a failed attempt at amusement. Not funny.

  1. Don’t tell bad knock-knock jokes. When you enter the room, just enter. Don’t say, “Knock knock. Who’s There? Urban. Urban who? Urban sprawl affects our quality of life just like Urban Meyer affects the quality of life at Ohio State.” At least if you’re going to tell a knock-knock joke to the agent make sure you know a funny knock-knock joke or it’s going to get awkward very quickly.

  2. Don’t mention Beavers. Unless you’ve graduated from Oregon State University or your novel is about the semiaquatic rodent, it doesn’t make a good conversation starter.

  3. Be yourself. Many times it’s easy to fall into the trap of being your bad self and pretending you’re a character from a radio show you created. Don’t use creepy voices imitating fictional characters like Buck Rogers, Mario Juan Valez, Tony Tattoni, or Wyatt McReynolds. It can get odd very quickly.

  4. Don’t talk about socialism. Unless your novel is about politics, stay on the subject of your novel and don’t discuss world politics or irrelevant issues.

  5. Don’t guess the age category for your novel. Never tell the agent that you are pitching that an eleven-year-old can read your novel when you have no idea about the age category of your genre.

  6. Never try to fake your elevator pitch. The elevator pitch is one line describing your novel and it’s not going to help by pretending you know what it means if you don’t know. And don’t continue the conversation inside the elevator because it’s just creepy.

  7. Don’t discuss fake radio stations. There’s no way fake radio stations will sell your novel to the agent, especially when it has nothing to do with anything. It’s foolish to talk about radio stations that don’t exist and it damages your reputation.

  8. Never beg and get on your knees. Don’t resort to mercy tactics, humiliating prayers, or begging because there’s a good chance the agent will call security or the police.

  9. Don’t ask if she drinks Samuel Adams. It’s inappropriate and again you’re making a mistake. It can only lead you into a pitfall when talking about irrelevant politics. And don’t make it worse by saying you can brand better than J.K. Rowling with William Lyon Mackenzie beer that’s better tasting than Upper Canada lager.

  10. End with a handshake and don’t offer a bear hug. For God's sake, if you barely know the agent, just end with a handshake and don’t think she’s interested in a friendly hug.

  11. Don’t wave goodbye if she’s calling the police. Chances are she wants you to stay to approach the police and talk with them for a while. Try to calm down and take deep breaths breathing in and out and maybe you should say a few prayers to help calm your nerves or something.

What’s the good news? I might have a lot more time to write with a pending court case. I'm responsible for my actions. I don't understand why some crazy people blame mental illness for everything. Yeah, I enjoy adult fiction. So what?

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