- Make sure your word count is appropriate for your genre. Honestly, this is something I've never thought about. I assumed it wouldn't be a problem. However, sometimes it CAN be. Like, if you win a contest, submit your material to the Secret Agent, and your word count is wonky. (You can't call a 23,ooo-word manuscript a "YA novel," for instance. Because it's not.)
- If you win a contest, PLEASE FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS YOU RECEIVE IN MY EMAIL. These instructions may or may not be the same as the agent's normal submission procedure (and most likely they're different). Also? If I tell you to put "SECRET AGENT WINNER" in the subject line and you don't do it, your submission will get submerged in the slush. Most of the time, the Secret Agents WANT to give your manuscript speedier attention. So don't blow your chance by not following directions.
- And as always, if your manuscript is not finished, PLEASE DO NOT ENTER A SECRET AGENT CONTEST. We have plenty of in-house crits for works-in-progress. Enter those. The Secret Agent contests are meant for completed, query-ready manuscripts.
- Oh. And please (PLEASE! PLEASE!) pay attention to each month's genres. This is one thing my super-bot can't do without my intervention--namely, weed out the wrong genres. Trying to "slip in" a manuscript that doesn't match what I've called for will only, ultimately, make you look...um, less than brilliant. Because even if I miss it, the Secret Agent won't. (I mean, if you were an agent who only repped children's literature, would you want to waste your time critiquing the opening of an adult novel? And do you think you WOULDN'T NOTICE that it wasn't a genre in which you were interested?)
Throw me your comments and questions! It's a great time for me to answer them.