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Personalizing the Query

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#1 Spaulding


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Posted 18 August 2017 - 10:17 AM

I know we're supposed to tell the agent why we want her based on something specific, but in the examples of queries that work, very few include that paragraph.


I cannot go to conferences or meet-and-greets, (disabled, since someone will tell me I should), so everything I know about the agents now is what I've read online when snooping over them. I'm also very directed when I meet people, and, it seems fangirling agents isn't a good idea. (Probably good I can't go to conferences, because I would fangirl them.  :wub: )


So, could I see some examples that worked other than "we met at" for the personalizing paragraphs?

If I helped you, please critique my query -- The Comfort Ban.

Or the synopsis. (If you're in a particularly cheery mood, I'll accept a crit for both. Better yet, if you're in a foul mood, take it out on both.  :wink: )

#2 Faltho



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Posted 19 August 2017 - 07:50 AM

To tell you the truth, the couple of people I know personally who've had successful queries didn't include a personalized paragraph. Or, if they did, it was very generalized such as "I saw on your profile you like stories with realistic views on alcohol abuse, so I thought you'd enjoy my novel The Drinking Game". Sometimes they'll have enough information, sometimes they won't and I don't believe there is any industry standard on the necessity of such a paragraph. That being said, I believe the more you show you've researched an agent, the better off you are. 

#3 Gibber


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Posted 21 August 2017 - 03:25 PM

I would include one if I thought the book fit a specific #MSWL or something, or I had previous contact with the agent. Otherwise, I just left it out (unless I'd heard in an interview or something for a particular agent that they *wanted* personalization).

#4 joshhider


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Posted 01 September 2017 - 02:37 PM

I have been going back and forth on this too. Some places like  QueryShark say just get into the query, and I have had some say they want to see that you know what they want.  This first round of queries I have been doing a few sentences saying why I think they are looking for my book.



I saw on your website that you are looking for fast paced domestic thrillers. THE JIHAD CODE fit in with that perfectly.




I see from somethingorother that you like strong narratives that keep you reading far too late. I think you will love THE JIHAD CODE.



I still have this nagging feeling that this is not good? Like am I trying too hard? I really hate querying.

Josh Mason


#5 Faltho



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Posted 01 September 2017 - 06:51 PM

Really it all comes down to the preference of the agent. Some really are interested in understanding why they, of all the agents in the world, are the one you chose to send your query to. While others tend to prefer the cold hard facts of the query letter and assume you're literally querying everyone who could even be construed as possibly interested in representing your book. That being said, I don't believe any personalization, or lack thereof will sell or tank your manuscript. 

#6 Constantine Singer

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Posted 14 September 2017 - 04:43 PM

Personalization is not going to make the difference between an agent reading your query or not.  It won't make the difference between an agent requesting your manuscript or not.


The quality of your query and the quality of your story are what matters here.


Often-times personalization can backfire -- a short line gleaned from a selection of an interview decontextualized and distilled into a blog post by someone else isn't always the best indicator of an agent's tastes or desires.


Write a great manuscript.  Write a great query.


Keep on trudging.

Look for NeverWhen, my debut novel from Putnam/Penguin Teen in bookstores everywhere in 2018!

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