They Query: Part 3-Deets and Personalization


Welcome back!  This is #3 in my query “workshop.” As always, remember what worked for me, may not work for you as all agents are different and want different things.  ALWAYS read the agents/editors guidelines for their recommendations. Today we’re going to focus on the ms details section and personalizing your letter.
When I’m talking about the details, this is the nitty gritty section that lets the agent/editor know how long, what genre, and who your target audience for your book is.  I try to spice up this section a little so it’s not boring.  We still want to keep the readers attention here. 
Also, you want to make sure your title is in all caps. 
Here’s an example of the one I used for Mirror Image:
MIRROR IMAGE is a science fiction romantic young adult novel, complete at 83,000 words. With a mix of Alice In Wonderland, The Phantom of the Opera, and Romeo & Juliet, this is a story of love that knows no bounds. Time, space, even the very fabric of reality cannot stop it.
Now there is some speculation on whether or not you should actually say the work is a mix of blah and blah, but it worked well for me.  It has been said that it’s better to say that the book will appeal to readers of blah and blah instead.  I’ll leave that up to you.
As I look as this, I realize I’ve come close to doing one of the no no’s in the industry.  You NEVER want to refer to your book as a “fiction novel.”  It’s redundant.  If it’s fiction, then yes it’s a novel.  If I were still querying, I would try to reword that first sentence to make it better, but as they say, “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” 
Now onto personalization.  If at all possible, thoroughly research the agents you want to submit to, then, and only then, submit to them.   With the research you’ve obtained you want to add one or two sentences to your query so they know you’ve done your research.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find enough information on my agent (at the time) to really personalize it, but here’s an example of something you could do.
Since you represent such and such author’s book, TITLE HERE, which is similar to mine, for these reasons (list 1 or 2 reasons), I hope you’ll agree my book is a good fit for your list.
There are, of course, other ways to do it.  For instance, reading their guidelines and mentioning that since they are looking for such and such book, you think that YOUR BOOK would be a good fit.
Or you read in such and such interview that they were looking for, or they said something. 
The potential here is limitless and, if you do your research, this should be the easiest part of the query. 
Tomorrow, will be on your bio and the closing of the letter.  Until then, Ciao!

One Response to “They Query: Part 3-Deets and Personalization”

  1. Liz Czukas says:

    >Your paragraph is totally fine–Science Fiction is the genre, so you can't avoid saying fiction. You could have tried to get rid of novel, I guess, but it obviously worked just fine, so no sweat.

    I like to be really honest in this part of my queries, even a little humorous if I can. In one of my queries, I said I was deeply intimidated by querying that particular agent, because I was afraid of becoming a #pubtip on Twitter. She thought that was funny and requested a full manuscript. Although she ultimately passed the project on to another agent, she was very personable during our interactions and complimented my query letter. So, don't be afraid to let your hair down a little. You just never know what will catch someone's eye.

    Great post.

    – Liz