Dear Miss Snark,
Before I query an agent, I research the firm in several sources, read the website, learn some of the more prominent clients, etc. My question is, how do I phrase this knowledge in my query letter?
You mentioned that you want to know a prospective client has done more than pull your name out of the phone book, but it always sounds dippy when I state my reasons for applying to a given firm. "Dear Agent Fabuloso, I want you to represent my unpublished tome, 'cause if you're good enough for Grisham, you'll probably do for me."
The agent knows who her clients are, and it's usually fairly public knowledge, so I don't need to remind her of this data. And I don't want to imply that Grisham recommended that I contact his agent, or that I think I'm the next John Grisham, or whatever.
How would you incorporate your research into an unsolicited query to an agent? (And why is it so hard for someone who fancies herself a writer to compose a simple one page letter without sounding like a ninny?)
Unclear and unrepresented in the heartlands,
Did I really say I wanted you to tell me why you are querying me? I was clearly suffering Rampant Ego Heatstroke at the time. I know why you are querying me: you're querying everyone with a pulse and probably six who are one with the pulsars since that last edition of Hermann's Munster Guide was published.
The easy answer is say why you are querying. Reasons I respond to, in no particular order, are:
1. I liked (title) by (author) and I think my book would be enjoyed by people who liked and read that one-(title and author being something I sold of course);
2. I think we have the same sense of humor;
3. You represent books I like to read and I hope I've written one of those.
The trick here is you absolutely have to be spot on accurate with the books. You can't query me telling me you like John Grisham's work cause he's not on my list. Nothing turns me OFF faster than an inept comparison.
It's ok to leave this part off. It's almost more trouble than it's worth cause I really will read just about anything you send me. How LONG I will keep reading is what matters. (For a discussion of that time frame-put down your beverage and go read today's post on POD-dyMouth )
There is a form for a query letter buried somewhere in the Snarkives and it's too close to the gin swilling hour to actually go dig around for it. You can probably find it in the index (All Saints ie Miss Adventure be Praised).
(thanks to the "other" MS for the heads up on PoddyMouth)