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Paul
03-07-2012, 01:23 AM
I mean really. Really noteworthy.

In other words

Any 'getting an agent to read your full' stories out there which came as a result of a more personalised query letter than a standard polite (ie correct agent name and genre etc) query which follows the given guidelines?

ETA by personalized I mean, mentioning their current clients, a book they rep that your book is like, a blog advice they mentioned, etc etc

Why am I asking. Well, time. Time is monay. or something. and personaliszed queries eat up time. and yes i know the 'if you really wanted it enough' of something thingy. But for me, if the majority say YES, IT DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE, then I'll take that on board. Otherwise...

Corinne Duyvis
03-07-2012, 01:45 AM
No, but that's because you don't land an agent based on a query letter. You land an agent based on your novel. The query letter needs to do one thing only--get the agent to read said novel. I'm sure that in some cases, personalization will make agents more likely to request pages. After that, it's all about the book.

Paul
03-07-2012, 01:49 AM
:) Fair nuff. so ,same question, but 'read your book' instead of 'land an agent'?

eg, in your personal exp, did a personalized letter result in a book reading? (you dont have to answer on a personal basis if you dont want, of course)

Nonuw
03-07-2012, 02:11 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

Ginger Writer
03-07-2012, 02:16 AM
In my experience, I've never had to personalize. Years ago, I would mention books in the agents' lists that my own work compared to, but got no requests to read or personal comments in response. Recently I've gotten those requests to read and personal critique on several of my projects without having to mention specific works that the agent represents. Unless they specifically ask you to spell out where you fit into the market (and one that I came across did), then I wouldn't worry too much about it. The big thing that you want to do is be polite, be professional, and really sell your book.

And to Nonuw: I would never send without a complete manuscript. It's something that I'm sure would irk agents. Most out and out say as much. And it's a risk if they ask for the full MS and you can't present one. Just my thoughts on the matter.

Drachen Jager
03-07-2012, 02:21 AM
Agents like it when you personalize and say nice things about them, but 9 times in 10 (or more) it makes no difference at all. Spend the extra time on the body of your query and you will get reads.

Paul
03-07-2012, 02:24 AM
Thanks Ginger.

To DJ, yup, that's my thinking.

to Nonuw NEVER EVER do that. just dont. DONT DO IT! for all sorts of reasons.

Corinne Duyvis
03-07-2012, 02:24 AM
:) Fair nuff. so ,same question, but 'read your book' instead of 'land an agent'?

eg, in your personal exp, did a personalized letter result in a book reading? (you dont have to answer on a personal basis if you dont want, of course)

It's honestly hard to say, because you usually don't hear why an agent does or doesn't request a partial.

All the personalization in the world isn't going to make an agent request a shabbily written query, and vice versa, a stellar query will have an agent begging for the first chapters no matter what.

I don't think not personalizing it (aside from listing their name, of course) will hurt you. Since lots of agents express a preference for it, though, I'm sure it does make a difference in how they read queries or how they perceive you, so I think it's worth the effort. :)

Paul
03-07-2012, 02:35 AM
It's honestly hard to say, because you usually don't hear why an agent does or doesn't request a partial.
:)
well what I'm asking really is did *you* (everyone) send out personalized and non-personalized and notice a difference?

Ginger gave the answer i suspected was the case, but more data would be useful

Corinne Duyvis
03-07-2012, 02:40 AM
well what i asking really is did *you* (everyone) send out personalized and non-personalized and notice a difference?

No, but I didn't keep track, and I think there are too many other factors that play into an agent's decision to request or reject to make that sort of experiment in any way reliable.

I'd be interested in the answer to this question, too, because a lot of time can go into researching agents, but I think getting the agents' side on whether it makes a difference would be more useful than the writers' side.

Paul
03-07-2012, 02:51 AM
No, but I didn't keep track, and I think there are too many other factors that play into an agent's decision to request or reject to make that sort of experiment in any way reliable.

I'd be interested in the answer to this question, too, because a lot of time can go into researching agents, but I think getting the agents' side on whether it makes a difference would be more useful than the writers' side.
yes, agreed.

(this is more of a rule-of-thumb heuristic than a proper experiment! :))
like the cat btw)

Giant Baby
03-07-2012, 03:00 AM
The most useful, personalization you can include, IMO, is to follow the agent's submission guidelines to the letter. That shows you've researched what they want and are a conscientious querier, without ringing false.

I can't give you stats, I'm not sure you're going to get stats, but my requests aren't too shabby and I've actually been thanked by one agent for sending a "thoughtful" query that hit all her notes. So, that worked out okay.

Drachen Jager
03-07-2012, 03:09 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Whoever wrote that book is an idiot. If you query and the agent asks for a full and you say, "Yeah, haven't written it yet." You are sunk with that agent. They will write you off as unprofessional.

To reiterate: yes, it must be complete.

suki
03-07-2012, 03:46 AM
Of the requests I received from agents, all but 1 resulted from personalized queries - 1 resulted from a non-personalized query.

I believe, based on anecdotal evidence, that personalization does equal more requests from some agents. Not all. But some.

But here's what I think is the real difference - people who personalize most of their queries, have to research the agents more thoroughly than those who do not. And that research is the key. In order to allow them to personalize, they have to get to know the agent better, and likely end up not querying some agents based on that research, and better targeting others.

So, is it necessary? For all agents? No. For most? Likely no. For some? Sure. Some agents are more inclined to request from those who seem to really know their preferences, and I'd bet those who take the time to research, can better target their queries to those preferences.

But for some, it makes absolutely no difference. Hell, some agents don't even read the query until after they look at the included pages...and by then, the query is likely irrelevant unless it revels a plot detail that is a deal breaker that was not evident in the included pages.


Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Whoever wrote that book is an idiot. If you query and the agent asks for a full and you say, "Yeah, haven't written it yet." You are sunk with that agent. They will write you off as unprofessional.

To reiterate: yes, it must be complete.

QFT.

~suki

heyjude
03-07-2012, 03:49 AM
I mean really. Really noteworthy.

In other words

Any 'getting an agent to read your full' stories out there which came as a result of a more personalised query letter than a standard polite (ie correct agent name and genre etc) query which follows the given guidelines?

ETA by personalized I mean, mentioning their current clients, a book they rep that your book is like, a blog advice they mentioned, etc etc

Why am I asking. Well, time. Time is monay. or something. and personaliszed queries eat up time. and yes i know the 'if you really wanted it enough' of something thingy. But for me, if the majority say YES, IT DID MAKE A DIFFERENCE, then I'll take that on board. Otherwise...

Yes. I caught my agent's eye by mentioning an interview he'd recently done and why I thought my book fit what he was looking for based on that interview. It definitely made the difference.

I only sent three Qs, but I personalized all three and got three requests. Anecdotal, but it worked for me. :)

Paul
03-07-2012, 04:00 AM
Hmm. interesting.

I shall tabulate the data in time... :D

As for the research variable effecting results, I'm factoring that out under the 'targeted agent submissions - ie knowing their genre preference, the name the guidelines.)

Just wondering though Jude, had you 'form' (previous interaction) with the three?

BethS
03-07-2012, 05:35 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

The book is crazy. Only query for a complete work. You are otherwise wasting their time and yours.

Yes, there are some rare exceptions of authors getting an agent with an unfinished manuscript. But "rare" is the operative word there, and when it does happen, the circumstances are generally unusual.

Caveat: This only applies to fiction. Querying non-fiction is a whole different thing.

writerGDW
03-07-2012, 06:04 AM
The first time I personalized a query, I got a request for a full 10 minutes later.

BUT, I also got 6 other full requests from non-personalized queries, so who knows?

I think following the agent's submission guidelines (and targeting the right agents) is most important. After that, I only personalize if it makes sense and doesn't sound forced.

Siri Kirpal
03-07-2012, 06:51 AM
Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

I've had better luck with personalized queries (both with agents and with publishers) than with standardized queries. One of mine was a referral. The others were simple references to what the agent/publisher likes and what I had to offer.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Chumplet
03-07-2012, 07:13 AM
I've had a few instances where a personalized query garnered an immediate request for the full. I told one agent my heart sped up a little when I read in her profile that she loved international settings and was born in the same city as me.

But if you choose to use that tactic, it's very important to be honest and not to try to blow fake sunshine up the agent's nether regions. Trying to fool them with false platitudes will only leave a sour taste in their mouths if you have to query in the future.

wheelwriter
03-07-2012, 07:37 AM
I've gotten at least one full request because of personalization. I can say it with certainty because the agent mentioned it in her blog (which I obsessively followed before and after querying).

I think it has to be sincere personalization.

If you've honestly read some books the agent represents and you feel your book may be a good fit, then it probably doesn't hurt to mention it. If you find a common interest or some other connection, it's worth a mention, as long as it's true. If an agent says something that clicks in an interview, in general I think agents don't mind, and generally appreciate, the mention. I'd just avoid sucking up for sucking ups sake.

suki
03-07-2012, 07:58 AM
Hmm. interesting.

I shall tabulate the data in time... :D

As for the research variable effecting results, I'm factoring that out under the 'targeted agent submissions - ie knowing their genre preference, the name the guidelines.)


And I'm talking about research beyond that ;)

I'm talking about reading up on an agent enough to be able to personalize your query, if you wanted to. That level of research would allow you to have a better sense of the agent - and to tweak your query to target them - beyond "ie knowing their genre preference, the name the guidelines."

;) For example, in one case, it caused me to add a different conclusion to my last pitch paragraph. For another agent, I started a bit differently. For another, it meant adding a paragraph that she had mentioned wanting in an interview - that never showed up in her official guidelines...Those tweaks worked for me - ie, turned into requests. ;)

BUT, the research needed to personalize is informative, even if you don't personalize. It can help you weed out agents, or even shift some up the list, as they seem like better fits.

Now, for the sake of comparison, many people get requests with no personalization, and as I said above, so did I. Some queries didn't get personalized - usually because the agent was newer, and there was less to personalize with. ;) You need to decide how best to use your time. But for me, I wanted to know the agents I was considering querying better than just "ie knowing their genre preference, the name the guidelines." I wanted to know all I could. ;)

~suki

Chumplet
03-07-2012, 08:07 AM
Of course, there are also agents who have become acquainted with me through social media, and mentioning my user name usually garners a personal response (yes, it can be a no). Putting yourself out there and offering honest interaction might help them remember you when it comes time to query.

Of course, the writing has to be up to snuff, and don't query an agent with an adult mystery when they only rep YA, even if they think you're a nice person.

Susan Littlefield
03-07-2012, 08:13 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

Yes. Never send out a query letter for an unfinished novel. In fact, make sure your novel is self-edited and polished to the best of your ability.

WordCount
03-07-2012, 08:35 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.


Unless you're writing a non-fiction book, yes. If it's fiction, it absolutely has to be finished.

It could be that you were reading a book regarding nonfiction. If not, throw that book in the trash! It's not doing you any good.

TudorRose
03-07-2012, 01:08 PM
Paul, check out the interviews under "success stories" on querytracker--they specifically ask if (and how) people tailored their queries.

http://querytracker.net/success.php

Just more data for you to tabulate ;)

heyjude
03-07-2012, 03:11 PM
Just wondering though Jude, had you 'form' (previous interaction) with the three?

I had previous interaction with two of the agents, but not the one I ended up signing with. :)

jaksen
03-07-2012, 05:24 PM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

I would hope the book is complete. I would never query an inc. novel.

But is it done? Sure it is. On query tracker I've seen multiple examples of it.

More specifically: a writer has sent a query to an agent. The agent responds and asks for a full. (Full ms.) Then the writer will comment (on the QT forum or elsewhere) that, "Wow, now I really have to finish that book!" Or, "I'll send it in three months." Or, "I need to rewrite parts before I send it."

And me, I'm all - omg why did you query an unfinished book?

Maybe it's just me, but I don't query until it's finished.

Perhaps some agents feel differently about this?

Paul
03-07-2012, 07:53 PM
Paul, check out the interviews under "success stories" on querytracker--they specifically ask if (and how) people tailored their queries.

http://querytracker.net/success.php

Just more data for you to tabulate ;)
will do. :D thanks.

yeah. I reckon suki's last post offers the true insight into my conundrum.

ie most effective use of time.

the issue being does the benefit (a reading) outweigh the cost (time)

processing....processing...


conclusion: need more data

lauralam
03-07-2012, 08:01 PM
I do sometimes and other times I don't. If there's a clear reason why I am approaching that agent (i.e. they represent someone who does seem really similar to me), or whatever, then maybe. But most of the time I haven't so far, and I've still had a few requests. But if I stretch to figure out how to formulate it (I really like how you interact yourself in interviews and you represent my total favourite authors and seem totally awesome!!111), then I just leave it out.

Paul
03-07-2012, 08:13 PM
Read all 13* interviews from TudorRose's link. In answer to the question

Did you tailor each query to the specific agent, and if so, how?

3 gave a definite yes, 2 a qualified yes, 3 a 'well, maybe a few lines with some if possible', the rest were No.

so 5 yes or mostly yes.
3 huh?and 5 no.

ok, there's more interviews i didnt see. watch this space lol :)

eta. well the rest seem to follow the same pattern.


ETA. Paul A, isnt this time you could be researching agents???
Paul B. bugger off.

summerb
03-08-2012, 12:40 AM
OMG, this is so timely for me! I'm having such a hard time even though I DO the research. The first query I sent out was so tailored to a particular agent, I thought for sure he was the one. (I know, I know, how easy did I think it would be?!) But I didn't personalize it, and he form rejected it. After that I think I got a little too informal in my personalizations, and maybe went the other way.

How do you strike a balance? Can anyone give an example of how exactly they started a successful personalized query?

summerb
03-08-2012, 12:44 AM
Does novel have to be complete before being sent out to an agent? I know, it's a daft question - but recently read a book which advises to send query letter to agent before completion.

Yes, for sure!

Although I have been querying agents who don't require a synopsis so I can avoid writing one. If they responded to my query, sounds good, send a synopsis, I would be screwed. Does that ever happen? (the requesting a synopsis, instead of pages bit, not the me getting screwed bit ;) )

Siri Kirpal
03-08-2012, 12:54 AM
OMG, this is so timely for me! I'm having such a hard time even though I DO the research. The first query I sent out was so tailored to a particular agent, I thought for sure he was the one. (I know, I know, how easy did I think it would be?!) But I didn't personalize it, and he form rejected it. After that I think I got a little too informal in my personalizations, and maybe went the other way.

How do you strike a balance? Can anyone give an example of how exactly they started a successful personalized query?

Sat Nam! (Literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Go into Query Letter Hell at look at the successful queries thread. Most just show the basic query, but a few are personalized. Also, Writers Digest has cached a whole slew of interviews with agents, each of which contains a successful query.

And, once you've reached your 50th post, you can post your basic query in Query Letter Hell and have folks take a look.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

AGragon
03-08-2012, 02:45 AM
I remember I used to spend ~3 hours+ with each personalised query, and after many rejections I noticed it didn't make the slight difference.

I even remember I once quoted what this X agent said in an interview, but to no avail.

I was an agent stalker back then, watching interviews, quotes, etc. But it was useless.

Paul
03-08-2012, 03:32 AM
there's a small part of me which believes it's the work that counts...





:D

summerb
03-08-2012, 04:53 AM
I remember I used to spend ~3 hours+ with each personalised query, and after many rejections I noticed it didn't make the slight difference.

I even remember I once quoted what this X agent said in an interview, but to no avail.

I was an agent stalker back then, watching interviews, quotes, etc. But it was useless.

I feel like an agent stalker now! You really didn't think it made a difference? I just feel if I say something generic they will assume I am querying everyone and their brother..

Mclesh
03-08-2012, 05:00 AM
I'll just add, personalizing hasn't hurt for me. I've gotten full requests with personalization and without. If an agent likes your work and also feels that you'll be someone they can work with, they might be more inclined to offer representation.

As far as having the book finished: Yes. I've had a full request within, seriously, ten minutes of sending the query. My latest full request came overnight. If the ms isn't finished, you're shooting yourself in the foot.