Asking someone to recommend a good agent is asking them to spend days researching, and that's your job, not theirs.Another point to remember is that they'd only really recommend it if they're very impressed; if they don't think it's good, they'll figure it would a waste of their colleagues' time to pass it on.
The following phrasebook of common errors will show you what to avoid, and why . The Writers and Artists Yearbook will have the name of the person you should be writing to, and getting it rights puts you in the top fifty per cent straight away.
You say: 'I know you don't usually accept unsolicited manuscripts, but please, just have a look at this.' Dating equivalent: 'I know you're married, but please, just go out with me once.' You say: 'I know you don't usually publish this kind of thing, but please, just have a look at this.' Dating equivalent: 'I know you're gay, but please, just go out with me once.' If they have a policy, it's there for a reason, and asking them to change their minds will just feel like you aren't paying them the courtesy of assuming they mean what they say.
They would say all sorts of things that raised my eyebrows, convinced that they were doing themselves a favour when actually they were making errors of judgement.
It's easy to fall prey to expert's fallacy - the assumption that because you know all the ins and outs of the business you perform every day, so should everyone else - and editors are as subject to it as anyone else; after all, writers don't read submissions every day and get a feel for how they should go.
You won't be able to stand over all these people and pressure them until they buy it, so it's best to start as you'll need to go on.
You say: 'If this isn't the kind of thing you publish, maybe you could recommend another agency or publisher to me.' Dating equivalent: 'If you don't want to go out with me, could you recommend someone else in the city who would?The Secret Language of Editors When I was beginning as a writer, I looked for advice all over, and in the end, I found the most useful thing anyone could tell me was the truth.Even if I didn't like what I heard, I needed to hear it if I was going to know what was what. The Publisher-Dating Dictionary You have a book you've written, and you want to get it published. You'll be sending it in, and in order to introduce it, you need to write a cover letter.Basically, trying too hard to be persuasive won't help; the simpler you keep it, the better.An effective cover letter goes roughly like this: Dear (correct name of the person addressed, found in an up-to-date copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook - the standard industry directory, available from big bookshops and public libraries, and a book you can't do without), Please find enclosed my novel (name of your work) for your consideration.To clarify the issue, I propose the following thought-experiment, set out in terms that everybody familiar with.