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AlwaysJuly
12-15-2013, 05:01 AM
A friend (agented) told me to be sure to personalize my queries explaining to an agent why I thought they'd be a good fit, before I launched into the meat of my query.

Another friend just told me that's annoying and a waste of an agent's time, especially at the start of a query letter.

Is there any kind of consensus on such a topic? Or is this just a everything-you-do-is-wrong-to-someone sort of thing?

Captcha
12-15-2013, 05:39 AM
I think it makes sense to personalize if you actually have something personal to say. Like, if you met them at a conference, or if you know that the two of you have an interest in common or something. But if there's nothing to connect you... what can you say?

I got my agent without anything personal in the query. Just business.

T Robinson
12-15-2013, 07:06 AM
I think of personalize as showing that you have done your research. It would probably be a waste of time to send a novel MS to an agent who only handles or prefers non-fiction.

Example: "I note you have represented 13 YA novels, 4 of which won awards. My novel is of a 15 year old girl faced with the death of both parents within six months. She handles the crisis by starting her own company to help other teens or adults in her situation. My synopsis and first three chapters are enclosed per your submission requirements on your website."

The agent knows at once, you have taken the time to do the basic research and yours might not be a waste of his limited time.

Good luck.

Siri Kirpal
12-15-2013, 08:34 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Check the website. Some agents will toss queries without personalizations; some don't want them unless you have a referral or met at a conference.

I've had better, more thoughtful rejections with personalized queries, which indicates they actually read the material. Haven't got an agent yet, however, so your mileage may vary.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Tromboli
12-16-2013, 04:23 AM
Truth: Agents generally like personalization.

Truth: It won't make them request. Won't even make them send a personal response. And not having personalization won't make them reject you either.

Its something some writers do that's nice. But I've found myself getting annoyed at times when I KNOW I have a good query and pages. I'm querying right and I spend a lot of time personalizing the letters I send and I still get the same form rejections/no responses (and the occasional request, not saying I only get rejections). So I still do it a little but I don't put stress on myself to say anything fantstic. At the very least I say something along the lines of "On your website I saw that you were looking for ___. I hope you will consider my ___" Maybe worded different but along those lines. I still look for interviews and such but if nothing strikes me as important I don't go out of my way to find something good to say.

hikarinotsubasa
12-16-2013, 02:31 PM
I've been personalizing in the third paragraph.

First paragraph: One-sentence pitch (my novel is fairly high-concept, this may not work for everyone)

Second paragraph: Brief overview of plot and MC.

Third paragraph: Genre, word count, "I'm querying you because..."

Fourth paragraph: Two sentence bio.

"Thank you for your time and consideration."

The end.

I moved the personalization up to the first paragraph in a few cases, for example if the agent had an #MSWL tweet that matched. If it was just a matter of "You say you like funny stories and my novel is funny" or something (It's not, but as an example), I left it in the third paragraph.

I've gotten requests, form rejections, and personalized rejections, so it seems to be working as well as one could hope.

EMaree
12-16-2013, 02:54 PM
I personalise. There's no harm in doing it and it's a way I can make sure I've researched an agent fully before submitting. But it is a big time sink and there's very little gain from it...

When I include a real, heartfelt personalisation I'll sometimes get more requests, but that might just be because I already know enough about that agent to know we'll click. My more generic personalisations ("I'm querying you because you like x kind of book with y kind of character", "I'm querying you because you rep x author/y genre") are barely worth the time.

Agent Janet Reid had some really great, frank words (http://jetreidliterary.blogspot.com/2013/11/question-query-personalization.html) to say about personalisation.

goddessofgliese
12-17-2013, 07:31 PM
Check the website. Some agents will toss queries without personalizations; some don't want them unless you have a referral or met at a conference.



I've never heard of any agents that would toss queries just because there's no personalization. Mind pointing me to a few?

EMaree
12-17-2013, 07:42 PM
I've never heard of any agents that would toss queries just because there's no personalization. Mind pointing me to a few?

This is unheard of to me as well. I know some will chuck mass-CC'd or generic spammy queries ("Dear agent,") but using the agent's name is basic manners rather than a personalisation.

Putputt
12-17-2013, 07:45 PM
Ehh, I've gotten requests and rejections with both generic and personalized queries. I don't think it matters much either way, tbh. If I had to do it all again (knock on wood) I wouldn't spend time personalizing.

Tromboli
12-17-2013, 07:58 PM
I think he meant agents who are closed to unsolicited submissions but will take them from people who they met a conferences so unless they say " We met at.." they wont look at them.

Debbie V
12-17-2013, 11:35 PM
Here's an article on a similar topic. Much of it applies to agents as well. http://www.underdown.org/editors-names.htm

goddessofgliese
12-18-2013, 01:09 AM
I think he meant agents who are closed to unsolicited submissions but will take them from people who they met a conferences so unless they say " We met at.." they wont look at them.

Ok. That makes sense.

MJRevell
12-19-2013, 07:09 PM
I would say always personalise.

It's far better than just copy and pasting the same query to every agent. They want to feel special, they want you to have done your research and know that they are a good fit, they don't want something that's been sent out without any thought.

Just one or two lines is perfectly fine.

Barbara R.
12-19-2013, 07:15 PM
I've been an agent and have been represented by several. IMO, you definitely want to personalize query letter. There should be a reason for every submission, something you know about the agent that makes you want to work with them. Sharing that information shows you've done your research and are unlikely to waste their time.

zenjenn
12-26-2013, 12:44 PM
I've been personalizing, but subtly. As an obsessive newbie, I'm probably spending WAY too much time on each of my queries, but I'm actually enjoying it. I like checking out the agent blogs, web site, interviews, and twitter feed. Uhm, I don't mean that in a creepy-hermit-stalker kind of way. I just mean by doing that kind of research, you can kind of get a feel for the agent's personality and interests. For example, some agents clearly might respond favorably to some light humor or creativity in a query, while others are all business.

It's a useful exercise anyways, I think, because I have some sense of which agents I feel I'd really enjoy working with, and I've been querying them first.

Siri Kirpal
12-26-2013, 10:53 PM
I've never heard of any agents that would toss queries just because there's no personalization. Mind pointing me to a few?

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

There's one lady who says not to bother querying unless you can convince her that you've researched her tastes. Not remembering her name exactly, but I think that her initials are SG and that she works at William Morris.

Others make it clear that they'd like personalization. The sample query at foliolit is personalized. (But Erin Harris at folio says she wants the book data--title, genre, word count, elevator pitch--in the first sentence.)

While I think few agents toss a query because it isn't personalized, I do think the eyes of most harried agents are less likely to glaze over if the query is personalized.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Becca C.
12-27-2013, 02:35 AM
What do you guys think about personalization when it pertains to an agent who has previously requested fulls from you?

There are a handful of agents who saw (and requested fulls of) two manuscripts I queried two and three years ago. I got really long, personalized rejections from those agents and requests to query them again in future.

When I personalize future queries to them, should I put "You have previously read my past manuscripts, MANUSCRIPT 1 and MANUSCRIPT 2, in 2011 and 2012" in the first sentence, or at the end of the query? And should I word that like I did above and mention the years in which the agents requested them?

midazolam
12-27-2013, 03:40 AM
I feel like it's a little presumptuous to mention it right at the beginning, but I'd definitely include it somewhere. Maybe near the end, with your bio.

I think the way you worded it is perfect.

Quickbread
12-27-2013, 04:26 AM
What do you guys think about personalization when it pertains to an agent who has previously requested fulls from you?

There are a handful of agents who saw (and requested fulls of) two manuscripts I queried two and three years ago. I got really long, personalized rejections from those agents and requests to query them again in future.

When I personalize future queries to them, should I put "You have previously read my past manuscripts, MANUSCRIPT 1 and MANUSCRIPT 2, in 2011 and 2012" in the first sentence, or at the end of the query? And should I word that like I did above and mention the years in which the agents requested them?

I think you should put a quick mention upfront if they requested future works from you on a past submission. That's a big deal for them to do, and it pulls you out of the slush immediately.

I'd say something like, "In 2011, you requested a manuscript of mine, and although you passed, you asked me to query with future works." Or, "In 2011, you requested a manuscript of mine, and although you passed on it, you said you loved the voice (or whatever). So I thought you might be interested in my new manuscript TITLE, etc."

Siri Kirpal
12-27-2013, 04:57 AM
Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

Put it up front and tell them they said to send a query for your next work.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

Becca C.
12-27-2013, 09:49 AM
Thanks guys! Yeah, I thought putting it up front would be best -- they might not see it at the end.

Barbara R.
12-27-2013, 04:38 PM
What do you guys think about personalization when it pertains to an agent who has previously requested fulls from you?

There are a handful of agents who saw (and requested fulls of) two manuscripts I queried two and three years ago. I got really long, personalized rejections from those agents and requests to query them again in future.

When I personalize future queries to them, should I put "You have previously read my past manuscripts, MANUSCRIPT 1 and MANUSCRIPT 2, in 2011 and 2012" in the first sentence, or at the end of the query? And should I word that like I did above and mention the years in which the agents requested them?

First of all, the agent asked to see additional material, so I would suggest you write "Requested material" on the envelope or email subject line. That should get your query looked at sooner. I would also suggest sending a copy of his/her earlier letter as a reminder. It may well ring a bell, even a few years later. Then you pray. And keep on submitting to other agents.

Debbie V
01-01-2014, 07:29 PM
I also mention the previously requested manuscript up front. If the editor or agent made any helpful comments, I'll reference those and thank them as well.

"Thank you for your helpful comments about XXX which I sent you in Month Year. At that time, you asked me to send further work."

If they didn't specifically ask for further work, I can move from the first sentence into the pitch or explain how I think I've solved the issues mentioned about the first manuscript in the new one. I don't do the latter lightly though. If I say the new manuscript doesn't have those issues, it better not even have a hint of them.