Querying Tip: Start With A Name

Names are really important in your query letter. There are three names that should be made clear in your query before sending your email (or owl if you’re attending Hogwarts): the agent’s name, the name of your manuscript, and the writer’s name (that’s you).

Always, always, always address an agent by name. Even if you’re sending a query to a catch-all agency email account, you should still have one specific agent in mind who is a good fit for your work. If you want an agent to take the time to carefully consider your manuscript, then you need to take the time to personalize your query letter. The three extra seconds it takes to address your query letter is well worth it.

Don’t forget to mention the title of your manuscript. To make things easier in the future (like when we need to find your contact information to call with an offer of representation!), the name of your manuscript should be in the subject line of your email. Also, it’s easier to remember the content of your story when the title is unusual—don’t skip over coming up with a great one.

Remember your name. You’d be surprised by the number of queries I’ve read that don’t mention the name of the author. The relationship between an agent and a writer is an important one and first impressions mean everything. Sign off the end of your query the way you would a formal business letter. Tell the agent who you are and how to contact you. Make us think you’re an actual human being instead of a robot pressing buttons on a keyboard.

As always, make sure to read the guidelines before you query an agent. Agents have guidelines available on both agency and personal websites. Everyone prefers something different and the guidelines may mention how to address the agent/agency or what information to include in the subject line.