Agent #31 – Because you barely get a first chance to make a good first impression, let alone a second

I queried Agent #31 today but I think I’ve managed to already shoot myself in the Addidases. (‘Addidasi’…?) Or, more specifically, my email program managed to shoot me in the Addidases.

Agent #31 has a really nice website. Not too slick, not too basic, not too highbrow-literary-snobby, not too we-accept-anyone-with-two-fingers-to-pound-on-a-keyboard. She has an extensive list of authors whose books cover a wide range of subjects and genres. She has also gone to a fair bit of effort not only in outlining how she wants to be approached, but gives Do’s-and-Don’ts advice on how to fashion a quality query letter. And even though the Jeff Herman guide to agents says that her non-fiction versus fiction mix is 80% to 20%, I decided she was a worthwhile agent to query.

So I wrote my query and, as per the submission directions she outlines on her website, I added the first ten pages of my manuscript. I gave it the once-over and then, because you only have one chance to make a good first impression, gave it a just-to-be-sure twice-over and hit ‘send.’

And then…of course…as soon as I had, but before I watched it shoot off into the cyber-ethers, I saw that I hadn’t changed the font format to the one that doesn’t turn punctuation like quotation marks into gobbledegook. So in other words she got the world’s most amateurish query letter.


So I redid the whole thing and sent it off again but I can’t imagine I’ll ever hear back from this woman. She emphasizes in a number of places on her site that she doesn’t want to hear from people like me unless and until my query/manuscript/submission/whatever-the-hell-it-is-you’re-sending-me is polished to word-perfect perfection.

I used to like the agents who wanted to read the first bunch of pages right off the bat because if my query letter failed to stun with my brilliance, perhaps my writing would. But I’m sure this agent will be stunned…but not in a good way and certainly not in the way I intended or hoped. So now these agents just make me clammy.

Note to self: Change the goddamned, stupid, motherhumpin’ font format BEFORE you start typing a goddamned, stupid, motherhumpin’ word. (And/or sacrifice a small animal to the literary gods that Agent #31 actually reads this blog and thinks to herself. Oh, is THAT what that fiasco of a query was all about? Let me give that one another look-see…)


About Martin Turnbull

The Hollywood's Garden of Allah novels blog is by Martin Turnbull, a Los Angeles based historical fiction author writing about the golden era of Hollywood in his series of novels set at the Garden of Allah Hotel, which stood on Sunset Blvd from 1927 to 1959. Check him out at and Facebook: "gardenofallahnovels"
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