View Full Version : Proper format for an email query?

Madison Ready
01-08-2012, 11:09 PM
Hello all,

I'm a newbie, a first-time poster, and about to begin querying agents.

When doing so in email, is the standard business letter format (agent name/address, date, salutation) considered 'old school' and a show stopper?

Do you open formally, or simply 'Dear Agent' and then roll right into your query?

My gut instinct is to use the formal method, but I would hate to have my query disqualified, or passed over, simply because someone didn't want to read their own address and the date.

Any thoughts/help on this would be most appreciated.

Many thanks,

Corinne Duyvis
01-08-2012, 11:32 PM
Start straight off with "Dear Mr/Ms X", always. A date is unnecessary, and your address comes at the very end, after your name.

Hope that helps, and welcome to the forums! :)

01-08-2012, 11:54 PM
:welcome: to AW, Madison.

Yes, start off with "Dear Agent" first. Many agents are reading on their phones or mobile devices--don't make them wade through that other stuff to get to your query!

ETA: Lots of good info here (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=174), in our Share Your Work pages under Query Letter Hell. Password is vista. You need 50 posts to share your work, but read through these, especially the stickies, and you'll get lots of good information.

01-09-2012, 06:58 AM
If you mean "dear agent" as in "dear insert agents name here" then yes. But just putting a generic "Dear agent" at the start is a no-no and a turn off to agents. They want to know you did you homework, at least enough to know who you are sending to.

Don't get me wrong, it's good to ask these kinds of questions because there are always quirks and things you wouldn't have thought of that will help, but short of being sincerely unprofessional and/or not following the submission guidelines (things like attaching a document then you won't get "passed over" for anything other than your writing (and/or the market)

Ask questions, but don't be too paranoid, agents aren't all three headed monsters waiting for the smallest mistake to brush you off. They are just very busy people trying to sift through the thousands of submissions they get to find what is right for them. And don't ever worry about being "too professional":)

Madison Ready
01-09-2012, 07:06 AM
Thanks for the responses everyone.

I wasn't very clear, Tromboli, but that 'dear agent' was just generic to this message. I plan to contact each agent by name. Thanks for the heads up, though.


01-09-2012, 07:25 AM
It's not appropriate to put dates on business emails, as the email headers supply the date. (It's also not appropriate to send a query email with a different reply-to line, as agents will invariably just hit the "reply" button.) Formatting a business email as if it's a business letter makes you look unprofessional and a bit Luddite.

Begin with "Dear Ms. Jones" or "Dear Mr. Smith" (or "Dear Chris Doe" if you don't know whether Chris is a Ms. or a Mr.).

Then your query.

Then your signature. After your signature, include your telephone number. (You may include your physical address as well if you like, but it's not necessary.)

01-22-2012, 07:07 AM
What they said. Also include your blog or twitter handle under your name.

01-22-2012, 09:30 PM
Another quick question. Do you single or double space the actual query letter? I treat it like a business letter, and single space in Times New Roman, then of course, paste manuscript pages in appropriate format for manuscript.

Then I read today on an agent website that they want query letters double spaced. I'd not read that before. Is this just a requirement for this one agent, or do agents in general prefer query letters double spaced?

01-22-2012, 09:55 PM
I've never heard of double-spacing a Q before. Do it for that agent, but use single for the others. And, of course, double between paragraphs.

01-22-2012, 10:04 PM
Thanks, that's what I thought. It shows that it's really important to research agents carefully before submitting. :)

01-22-2012, 10:27 PM
So true! :) Everyone has their preferences, and though you probably wouldn't get booted for something like that, it's best to follow the directions to show you can. :tongue