Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Personalizing a Query

How exactly is it done?
Yes, many good posts have been written on this. Research your agent. Choose him specifically. Let him know you looked into his track record. Good good good.
Here's the thing: I'm not exactly sure how.

I think part of this is that I write high fantasy. Honestly, choosing an agent is less of a "I loved this book you repped" and more of a "you haven't specifically asked for no queries from my genre!" Yes, I have a couple dream agents, a couple big hopes, but I'm too nervous to query them in case they say no - silly, yes? Silly.

So often I query an agent when I haven't read their books. I can research the books a little, but I feel like that's cheating. An impressive record is good to note, but not especially awe-inspiring, as far as personalizations go. What do I have left?
I'd feel a little creepy saying, "I read in an interview you like cordon bleu! Me too!"
I'd feel a little weird saying, "I want to query you because I liked your website!"
I'd feel a little bit like a jerk saying, "I want to query you because you won't say no based on my genre!"

So what do I do? Any tips?


Kathryn said...

If you truly and genuinely follow and enjoy their blog, you might comment on aspects of it you enjoy, or that has helped you. This would be especially effective if the agent in question has mentioned a genre they're looking for and you're writing in that genre. Just a suggestion!

L.G.Smith said...

I think, too, that trying to personalize when there isn't any genuine connection can backfire. Sometimes just a professionally worded letter is fine. I've heard some agents actually consider seeing their name spelled correctly in the salutation as sufficient personalization.

Marsha Sigman said...

Luanne has is right, just make it professional if you can't find the words to make it personal.

I have tried different ways and gotten results. One agent loves to do pie charts so in my query I said with her love of pie charts and mine for spreadsheets we could conquer the world! Or just write great books together. She requested the full...but that might have been a fluke.

Lindsay said...

I try to personalise as well, but if I can't link back to a book they repped that I enjoyed, an interview they gave with something I identified with/found useful etc., then I keep it professional.

Angela Ackerman said...

I wrote a post on this here:

But the gist of it is that personalizing can be as simple as acknowledging you've learned something from the aget or to thank them for a specific tidbit of advice that helped you.

With so many agents blogging, tweeting or doing interviews, it's pretty easy to say that you enjoy their blog or really appreciate all their bits of advice on X and it really helped you. Or mention an interview you read up on that you really connected to because they enjoy books with Y and your book has Y.

Agents are like everyone else, and they like to know they've helped, they liked to be appreciated for what they do. A thank you that's genuine can go a long way!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse