How To Make Each Query Letter Personal

tulips on tableYou’ve written a hook to draw in the reader. You’ve summarized your story in a paragraph or two. You’ve ended the letter with a bio that makes it clear you are the only person to write your book. You received great feedback from online forums. Your critique group loves it. So it’s time to send your query letter off to all of the agents you selected, right?

Not quite yet.

First, make sure you know the agent’s name and spell it correctly. From everything I’ve read this is every agent’s pet peeve.

Second, you need to find a way to let each agent know why you would like them to represent you.

As you look through your list of agents you are going to query, think about why you chose them and make some notes (For tips on how to choose agents for your short list type Agent Query in the search bar above for previous posts on the subject). You may have chosen some of the agents on your list over another agent in the same agency. What was the deciding factor?

One important way to learn about agents is to read the books they represent. While researching in this way, you may discover that an agent represents an author you admire. If so, this is a great way to personalize your query letter. If you get really lucky, you may find a book the agent represents that is similar to yours in some way. A one to two sentence compare and contrast is the perfect way to show you’ve done your homework.

Another thing to add to your query is how your book fits with what the agent is looking for. Look at the agent’s blog, look for interviews, look for videos from conferences on youtube.com, look at their page on agentquery.com and publishersmarketplace.com to find the kinds of books they want. Mention their specific requests that pertain to your book and then offer your book for consideration.

Finding the right agent is all about patience. You not only want to sell your book and get it into the hands of readers, but you want to create a long-term business relationship with someone who will champion your work. Once you’ve put in the time to decide on the agents you want to query, let them know why you think they are right for you and your book.

Like the rest of us, an agent doesn’t want a bunch of form letters in the mail (email). Let her know that you’ve chosen her based on her merit and your belief that she will find the right home for your book based on her past sales, and you are much more likely to get a response.

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Querying and the Journey to Representation

Squirrel choosing a nut

I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut, but which nut is the right nut for me?

As I mentioned yesterday, I have thrown myself into querying my chapter book MY MONSTER IS BETTER THAN YOUR MONSTER.

I’m very grateful for the many online tools I have at my disposal for researching agents and tightening up my query letter. I thought  I would share the sites that have helped me so far.

Agent Query – Here you can research agents by genre. You can hone your search to only find agents who are accepting queries, accept email, and/or are members of AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc.)

Agent Query Connect– The forum community of Agent Query. This is a great place to interact with other authors and get feedback on all aspects of your query.

AAR online – The website for the Association of Authors’ Representatives. Like Agent Query, AAR is searchable by genre. All of the agents listed here are members of AAR and are expected to adhere to their code of ethics.

SCBWI‘s The Book – Members of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators have access to The Book which has a section of Agents by Agency. I like the way the information is listed.

Janet Reid. Literary Agent – This blog has a lot of great information about writing Query Letters

Jane Friedman – An in-depth article on query letter writing

I hope you find these tools as helpful as I have.

Best of luck in your search for an agent.