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The BookEnds Agents Auto-Reject Hit List

It’s true. All agents have those things that are an auto-reject for us. Long ago I met an editor terrified of small spaces. She couldn’t read anything where anyone was buried alive. I don’t have that problem.

BookEnds agents are no different. Here’s a short list of just some of the ideas, plot points, or even characters that are a just not right for us.

Jessica Faust

  1. Memoir. While I am looking for nonfiction and love when people incorporate their personal stories into their nonfiction, I’m not specifically looking for memoir.
  2. A standard PI novel. I’m not interested in traditional old-school PI novels.

James McGowan

  1. Adult romance. I’m just not looking for romance books and if one crosses my desk, I’m likely going to reject.
  2. Paranormal creatures. I’m not, and never have been on the vampires, zombies, fairies, et al. train. I don’t know that I ever will be, but for now, anything like that will likely not grab me.

Kim Lionetti

  1. Not following our submission guidelines. So if you’ve sent me the wrong genre, or haven’t used QueryManager and just emailed me. Although in those cases, I just won’t consider the query through email and will redirect you.
  2. Unlikable protagonists. I’m just not the right fit for a GONE GIRL type of book, but plenty of other BookEnds agents are. That said, I like dark characters, but they have to feel redeemable to me. Sydney Carton is one of my favorite characters of all time, for instance.
  3. Anytime a writer says they’ve been working on just this book for their whole life, or for a very long time. That shows me you’ve really been writing for yourself, not an audience. And if it took many years to write this one book, it’s hard to see how you’ll make a career out of writing.

Rachel Brooks

  1. Genres and categories I don’t represent. For example, even if your non-fiction query is amazing, I represent fiction, so it’s not going to be a fit for my list.
  2. Slamming other books in your query, whether specific titles or insulting a genre in general. It’s hard for me to get behind someone with the attitude that tearing other downs will raise them up.

Jessica Alvarez

  1. Like others have said, areas I don’t represent–most specifically, sci-fi, fantasy, YA and children’s books.
  2. Adoption stories that don’t show sensitivity to the topic, whether it’s using negative adoption language or something like adopted siblings falling in love.
  3. I’m not going to name names but there are certain comp titles and authors that lead to an automatic pass from me. With romance especially, there are a few oft-used comps in particular that show me the writer really doesn’t understand the romance genre.

Tracy Marchini

  1. Books for adults, including memoirs from adults about what they were like in their teens.
  2. Stockholm syndrome romance or romance with a huge age gap (like a YA romance between a 400+ year old vampire and a teen.)
  3. Picture books, middle grade or YA that speaks down to their audience.

Category: Blog



  1. I was reading your lists and thinking yup, fair enough, okay, and then I got to Jessica A’s “there are certain comp titles and authors that lead to an automatic pass from me”. This is why I don’t include comp titles. The idea an agent might misinterpret my reason for comping freaks me out. How do you know if I am comping for voice, genre, theme, character arc, character style, voice, plot…??? Easier to not risk it.

    1. I think it’s totally fair to skip comps, but you can also specify why you’re using your comps–written in the style of Daisy Jones and the Six, or for fans of Nick Hornby, or a gender-swapped Rapunzel meets Red Riding Hood, and so on. But I’ll also say this, most comps won’t have me batting an eye, but if you’re using, say, Nabokov for a commercial romance, that’s going to make me question if you know your genre.

  2. Tracey Marchini YES!!! I was beginning to think I was the only person that found it odd /creepy that a 400 year old vampire had anything in common and wanted to fall in love with a teenager. It weirds me out.

  3. Kim mentioned taking a long time to write a book and how that would make a career difficult. Reminded me that the other day I noticed Tom Harris’s latest book is his *sixth* – his first was published in 1975.

  4. I recently published a book that was conceived fourteen years previously. I started taking notes back then, and reading up on the subject, but I was working and had a lot of pressing responsibilities, plus a family. I retired a few years ago and began to research and write, but then a near-death illness got in the way. However, I would never mention how long it took in a query. Sometimes life gets in the way, but a potential agent doesn’t need to know about that.

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