Today'spost will deal with writing a query letter. I often am asked about the contentof a query letter. While some writers compose a serious, professional queryletter, others add quirky content that is witty, engaging, or even downrightsilly. Which is your best bet?
Well,the answer is a bit complicated, like everything else in our business. Thecontent that you should include in your query really depends on the acquisitioneditor or literary agent who will be reading the letter. Remember when you werein college and you had to figure out what your professors liked- theirparticular niches? When you figured out their idiosyncrasies, then writing yourpapers was a lot easier. The same is true for writing a query letter.
Let me say this. I know that both literary agents andacquisitions editors receive tons of query letters each day. To say thatreading these letters gets boring is an understatement. That’s why a littlequirkiness tends to be interesting. It tends to make your letter stand out fromthe rest. However, depending upon the person reading the letter, you might senda quirky letter to a straight-laced, tight-ass person who believes that anydeviation from ‘professional’ is irreverent and disrespectful.
As for me, personally, I love a quirky query letter. If youwrite me a letter that’s completely bizarre, I’m more inclined to be interestedin your manuscript. I, however, am a little quirky myself, and I doubt that Iam symbolic of most literary agents or acquisition editors.
So what is the solution? I hate to say this, but it’s bestif you can find out a little about the person to whom you’re sending the querybefore you actually send the letter. It’s a well-known fact that you shouldaddress the letter to the specific person who will be reading the letter. So inactuality, you should know who you’re writing the letter to, if you’re doing itthe correct way. I am not condoning stalking, but a little creativeinvestigation never hurts. In my humble opinion, social media was created forthis very reason.
Do a little research. Try to add the person to your networkon LinkedIn. If they have a Facebook or Twitter account, stalk their page. Notethat I said ‘stalk their page.’ Do NOT physically stalk a literary agent or an acquisitionagent. Actual stalking will only instigate an automatic trash toss and maybeeven a restraining order.
And yes, I know. This seems like a lot of work just to writea crappy query letter. It is a lot of work. That is true, but you should trustme when I say this: “Getting published ‘ain’t’ easy.”