Yea, They Should Be Thanking YOU for sending that Query!

From the comments column this am came that gem.

Look, this is a business letter. Write it like you actually would like to do business with me.
Leaving off the "dear" and the "thank you" is one more sign that you haven't quite realized that.

I get letters like this all the time. I don't have to worry about the people who write them, mostly, cause they've been so busy visualizing success they haven't acutally had time to buckle down and do the writing.

If you don't know what a standard business letter looks like there are tons of examples including one in my red Websters dictionary amazingly enough.


delilah said...

Dear Miss Snark:

I would sacrifice everything, except my dog, to have you as my agent.

Please accept my deepest appreciation for all of your hard work on behalf of beleaguered writers everywhere.

Best Wishes,


PS Hope you find something to occupy your time this weekend.


Anonymous said...

I have a sneaking feeling Ms. Snark and I have communicated about a query, and she is, actually, quite nice. I would like to have her as my agent, but we're going to have to work on that first five pages, I'm thinking.

writtenwyrdd said...

Miss Snark, I read that yesterday on Kristin's blog and wondered what you would say. I was right!

Diana Peterfreund said...

Everyone should thank everyone else. "Dear Agent, I am seeking representation for my book, X, which is about XYZ. Thank you so much for your consideration. Sincerely, Author" Then "Dear Author, Thank you for the opportunity to consider X. Unfortunately, it does not meet my needs at this time. Better luck elsewhere. Sincerely, Agent." Or, in a perfect world, "Dear Author, Thank you for the opportunity to consider X. It looks right up my alley. Please send the full manuscript. I look forward to reading. Sincerely, Agent."

I'm missing the complexity, here.

Don said...

I'd be willing to sacrifice delilah's dog to have you as my agent.

Sherry Decker said...

Diana Peterfreund said...
I'm missing the complexity, here.

Me too.

December Quinn said...

When did people decide that being businesslike meant being rude?

It's a "thank you". If you have such a hard time saying it, why would anyone want to work with you?

~Nancy said...

Heck, I can do business letters in my sleep at this point (and I think I actually have, come to think of it ;-)).

Like Diana, I'm also missing the complexity.


Anonymous said...

Might I rant for a moment?

I did my research on writing query letters, really I did. Proper format and everything.

I researched agents, and when I send my query out I make sure the date is right, the agents name is right...blah blah blah. I take the time to do things properly, even thought I know most will send me a no thanks back.

I sent out queries via email, after going to agentquery.com and specifically looking for agents who accept emails. Only one, out of approximately 50 stated that if they are not interested they will not respond.

I think many more don't respond, and I find it annoying. Just say it upfront like the one and only agent did.

Yes, it's a business. I get that.
Yes, agents receive a lot of emails, be it query letters or spam. I get it.

But what has happened to a common courtesy of a 10 second 'not for me' ??? Or lay it on the line that if you don't care you won't respond?

Thank you for listening to my whine. I would love some cheese with that.


Sharlene Martin said...

This is my pet peeve---writers who claim to be writers but prefer to "speak their query letter" over the phone.
My response is "I'm sorry--I'm unable to tell how good a writer you are by the sound of your voice.
Needless to say, most take offense at my asking them to "write me a letter." Today I actually had an attorney try and pitch me his manuscript over the phone and when I gave my standard answer, his response was "I'm not a writer." Then, I asked, who wrote the manuscript you're pitching me? His response was "I did." Hmmm, he's not enought of a writer to write a one page query but knocked out a full manuscript. Makes me REALLY want to ask for that one!

AstonWest said...

I was always under the impression you weren't supposed to use terms of endearment (such as "Dear" and "Thank you") in business letters...

Anonymous said...

Dear Aston,

In the context of a letter, "Dear" is not an endearment; it is the standard greeting. "Thank you" is never one.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.



Breca Halley said...

That's good to know. :) And I suppose when thinking about it, it makes sense to be on the safe side. After all, who is going to write back and say, "I liked your query, but next round don't thank me for my time." Put that way, it does sound rather ludicrous. :)

Anonymous said...

But 'Dear' isn't a term of endearment, in any letter - business or personal. It's a standard salutation. I'm pretty sure that, if you address an agent as 'Dear Ms X', she won't get the idea that you actually think she's your dearest darling one.

'Thank you' isn't a term of endearment in any context. You're not supposed to use terms of endearment to employees, either, for example - not unless you want to get sued - but you can still thank them.

Anonymous said...

astonwest is right. "Standard business letters" eschew endearments in the salutation. It's simply name/colon. As in:

Miss Snark:


Pickle Puss:

This is precisely how I'd address a query letter. It's distressing to know it might be flung to the slag heap because someone believed I wasn't following proper protocol...when I actually WAS.

Kim said...

I try to be as courteous in e mail letters (is that redundant???) as I am in snail mail letters. I don't care how corny it sounds, but I thank every party queried for their time (So far, I thank them for their no, but that's another rant for another day.) In fact, I try to be as professional as I possibly can and given that I work from my office in the basement, let's just say mine is not the most professional of atmospheres :)

However, I think it should extend both ways. I get the whole form letter thing, but I have to agree about the ones who don't respond at all. Ever. How do I know my email hasn't gotten sucked into that vortex known as cyberspace (where quite a few have gone)? I'd rather hear a no, then never know at all. And if I don't hear back, should I re-query (and is that even a word?) or do I run the risk of pissing off someone who might have been interested in another project?

In fact, there is one agent who never responded (though her site says she does, be it yea or nay) and my follow ups have gone ignored... or have they??

word verification: unzlufs - perfect for a dreary, rainy holiday weekend -sigh-

sundae best said...

"I was always under the impression you weren't supposed to use terms of endearment (such as "Dear"...)"

"Dear" in a business letter is merely a salutation. If I were writing my ex-husband a letter, it would still begin, "Dear Asshole".

"Dear" at the beginning of any letter is just a greeting word, an act of acknowledgement.