Carole Blake from the Blake Friedmann Literary Agency has provided a comprehensive list on how NOT to submit to an agent.
1. No gimmicks. Don’t send food, flowers – or anything else. Food goes straight into the bin … just in case. I’ve read lots of crime fiction.
I once received a large parcel that weighed almost nothing. Inside was a rubbish bin and a letter saying the writer assumed the submission would end up there so was sending me one to speed up the process. The partial for a crime novel that was attached looked rather good. I left the bin, letter & ms on my desk. Next morning our office cleaner had removed the contents and put the rubbish bin neatly next to my desk. There was no way to contact the author despite a story on our website and some tweets … That was the end of that.
2. Your own cover design. They almost always look very amateur. A publisher will produce a professional design that takes account of the current market. Even thinking that they might take your design marks you out as amateur.
3. Any kind of jokey letter making fun of the publishing business – I bet this won’t get read etc. In the cold morning light of a busy office – not funny. See no 1.
4. Don’t trash other authors – they might be my clients
5. Don’t send a first draft. Let it sit for some weeks after finishing. Then read & revise. Better to do that before you get a rejection.
6. Don’t keep sending further corrected versions. Revise first & let it sit before submitting.
7. Don’t send again once rejected, unless I’ve invited you to.
8. Don’t send in overly elaborate packaging. I am thinking of a full manuscript, in a lever arch file (duh!) wrapped first in plastic film, then in 2 layers of corrugated cardboard, then brown paper sellotaped around the ENTIRE package. Then in more brown paper. By the time my office had fought our way in to it I hated it already. See no 24.
9. Don’t mark it “private & confidential”. It’s not: it’s a business transaction. I don’t want to come back from a trip abroad to find an unopened unsolicited manuscript on my desk.
10. Don’t make spelling mistakes in the covering email or letter. Or the ms. And don’t rely on spellchecker: read it all the way through several times. See 5 and 6 above.
Continue reading the rest of the list on Bang2Write