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Treat Each Query as Your First

I’ve been receiving a lot of queries lately that are far too informal and personal, queries in which the querier obviously had interactions with me before and assumed I would remember who she is. Frankly, it’s just confusing.

The queries often go something like this:

Jessica:

I know you’re busy, but I wanted to let you know that Joe Schmoo has requested my manuscript for [Book Not To Be Named] and seems very excited about it. I fully intend to revise and make my characters more likeable. Would you like to take a second look? After all, we know the book will appeal to everyone.

Now that my divorce is final and I’ve got my life back I’m really ready to devote my time to writing. I’m so excited about the opportunities I have and since I love your blog I would hate for you to regret passing on my book.

Thanks!

Jenny

Let me tell you: I have no idea who Jenny is, no recollection of what this book could be, and, frankly, no interest since I don’t know what she’s talking about.

Don’t ever assume an agent remembers you (unless she’s your agent). Always query professionally and provide as much information as possible.

Jessica

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18 comments

  1. Uh. You'd think this would fall into the 'logic' category, non? I've been hopping around blogging sites that deal with queries for a while, and I'm often surprised at how informal and 'blurby' most queries are. When I look at all the information available, it seems the best thing is to stay professional and know what you're pitching and to whom.

  2. Maybe it is because of the blogs many agents have. We feel we know you agents, you write some pretty personal stuff, so we do too.

    We overhear cell conversations all day long, computers, email, facebook, twitter, we are privy to a lot of what an agent or anyone for that matter, is about.

    Hard to stay professional when we learn how moved you are by a dedication,or how tired you are from ready all those querys, or how pissed you get when someone addresses you as Jennifer.

  3. LOL…Jessica, I don't even count on you remembering me and you've been my agent forever! When dealing with anyone who has an impact on my career, I try and keep it professional, supplying all background info pertinent to my request. As "creepy query girl" says, it falls into the logic category. The last thing I want a busy editor or agent to do when reading my mail is to have a "huh?" moment. I'd rather provide all the information in one spot and make it as simple as possible.

  4. But, with respect to this particular query: assuming a writer has revised her query since you last laid eyes on it, and has had requests from other agents, is it permissable to re-query you again?

  5. Maybe I am just old-fashioned, but I think a certain level of formality is called for in business and this is indeed business. So sad to see language's slow decline into the informal. At least the query wasn't written as if it were a text message or chat room blurb. Can't you just see it now? "R U gonna take this? Some1 else wants it 2. CYA." It may come to that yet!

    Rebecca
    http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com/

  6. If you follow agent blogs for even a week or two, it's easy to get an idea of how many queries they're dealing with. It should follow that this is a no-brainer (but, of course, that would make life too easy!). I get Anon 10:04's sentiment about how agent blogs make it easy for us to feel like we know you and that perhaps you know us, but based on just the query stage? You'd have to have a bionic brain to remember everyone!

  7. I've been getting a lot of queries with hand-written messages at the bottom saying they really enjoyed conversing with my boss, but often there are no specifics – over the phone? at a convention? etc. I check in with my boss and sometimes she has a difficult time recalling if she did talk to them or not, which means there is a possibility she DID talk to them and couldn't remember, but so many come through in this format that I wonder if it's a new technique…?

  8. I think she just assumed you guys were close friends. And of course that isn't how a query is supposed to be. Maybe it was like a friend letter asking how Jenny was. 😛

    Though I doubt that could be it.

  9. And don't ever mention your DIVORCE in a query letter. Professionalism, above and beyond all else. I don't see the point in mentioning it in the first place. What does that have to do with anything? We all have personal lives that we continue to write our way through.

  10. Yes, one day it may come to this: "R U gonna take this? Some1 else wants it 2. CYA."

    Until then, I don't want to be acting like a teenager.

    That "got my life back" query is simply spooky.

  11. I recently had the chance to query an agent who had been interested in a different novel about a new novel. I decided that, since I had no idea whether the agent thought my writing was crap or wasn't interested in the plot or what caused the rejection, the easiest thing for me to do was re-query as if I had never queried the agent before. It's a different novel (I'd never dream of re-querying with the same novel unless I was specifically asked for revisions), and thus it gets a different query letter. I decided not to even mention that I'd sent along a partial of a different novel in the past. It didn't seem pertinent to the query this time around.

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