Have you ever walked down a street and had someone shove a flier at you or a perfume girl at Macy’s spray some God-awful cologne in your face as you’re just trying to walk by?
Why do we hate it so much? Not just because they’re trying to sell us something but because they’re treating us like a number. We’re human beings. And we demand to be treated as such.
We respond with annoyance and if we’re a people-pleaser (like I can be sometimes) we’ll politely say “No thanks.” But it’s irritating, isn’t it?
That’s how it is for literary agents who receive Xerox query letters that sound like a machine wrote them.
Personalize, personalize, personalize your query letter. Make them feel special, make them feel like you researched which agent would be best for you and you chose them specifically.
How do agents know that you’ve researched them instead of sent the same query letter to everyone in town? One way is if you took the time to do a little research on a site like PublishersWeekly.com or PublishersMarketplace.com and you found out what books they’ve recently sold. If those books are similar to yours, mention it in the first sentence of your query letter.
Say, “Dear Bob, I noticed you recently sold Making Love with Your Dog to Penguin Books. My dog book is called, Divorcing your Dog: When the Love Ain’t Enough and I thought it might right up your alley.”
Be as specific as you can about their recent sales and you’ll show them that you know they’re a human being and in return they won’t send you just another form rejection letter. No, they’ll take the time to respond to you personally.
Do this and you’ll be one step closer to landing an agent.
Guest post by Jeff Rivera, who is the founder of http://www.HowtoWriteaQueryLetter.com. With over 100 clients to date, he has a 100% track record of getting at least 10 literary agents to request to read his client’s manuscripts and proposals.