Mistakes Bring Knowledge

Ok, I have a confession. Remember how I said that doors may be slammed in my face? Yeah, that’s already happened.

So, I’m new to writing, hadn’t even gotten to 10,000 words yet and I thought I was just the hottest number on the block. I had all of these ideas and I felt unstoppable. Turns out, not everyone is going to want to hear about these ideas. Point in case: I sent my first query letter off to an agent. Not just any agent, mind you. It was one of the big names.

I typed up this God awful query (which I will not be sharing with you because, trust me, it’s just embarrassing) and emailed it to their assistant. Now, I will say the things that I mentioned in this query that I’ve since learned are BIG no no’s.

  • I mentioned that my friends had read it and LOVED it. Agents DO NOT care what your mom thinks about your manuscript! I imagine the chuckles this statement got me.
  • My manuscript wasn’t in any way, shape or form, complete. Now, not only had I committed the terrible act of contacting an agent without completed work, I TOLD HER! What the heck, right?! Don’t do this. Ever.
  • I mentioned my age and that I had no experience in writing. Reception of mentioning your age, I feel, may vary from agent to agent. But I will say this; they don’t want to hear that you don’t have experience. If you don’t have anything to speak of, remain silent. There’s nothing worse than a giant “I’VE NEVER DONE THIS BEFORE”. Your confidence should win them over. Hinting at incompetency will not.
  • It was just a general mush of excitement and ideas that had not come to fruition. I was almost desperate to win them over. This is no bueno (Rodriguez, Spanish…I thought it was funny). I would’ve completely understood had I never heard back.

But I did; almost the very next day. I say almost because of the major time difference from New York to Afghanistan (8 ½ hours). Below is the actual email:


Dear Cynthia,

We’d like to thank you for sending your query. After careful consideration, XXXX doesn’t feel she is the right agent to represent your book. Please keep in mind that our business is a subjective one, and that another agent might feel differently.

The Association of Author’s Representatives has a website at www.aar-online.org. Their address is P.O. Box 237201, Ansonia Station, New York, NY 10023 and their phone number is (212) 252-3695. We hope you will find an agent who is a good fit for you.

Best wishes,



Now, most people would be crushed, right? Not this girl. I mean, at first there was a little sadness that nagged me like a fly buzzing in my ear. But after a while (and some long hours researching), I got it. I understood not only the why’s but the why not’s. That was when the embarrassment crept in. As I was reading what you shouldn’t send an agent in your query, I realized I’d done everything wrong.

So, for now, I’ve focused on the writing. Without the work, there’d be no query, right? Trust me; my next attempt at a query will blow someone’s mind. This is a promise.



P.S. Looking for a new read? Go pick up Jasinda Wilder’s book Stripped. Virginal Strippers and Screen Gods? Sounds like a good time.





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