So you’ve slaved away over your novel, and gotten beta reads, and revised and rewritten, and it’s now ready to go out in the world? Great!
And you’ve done your research on agents, whether in Jeff Herman’s Guide or at http://www.manuscriptwishlist.com/, whatever your favorite resource, and double-checked agency websites to make sure your favorites are still at those agencies and open to queries? Kudos!
Remember that you’re looking for a business partner, someone to champion your work. You want whomever you sign with to be passionate about you and what you’re writing.
While there are as many opinions about queries as there are agencies, I don’t think you can ever go truly wrong by hooking an agent with the story. A good opener to your query is meant to entice, to tantalize, to make us want to read more. If you’re on Twitter, as so many writers are these days (it’s not required before you publish or are signed, so don’t despair if you’re not), you know how to compress your thoughts into a small space. An elevator pitch, a tweet, a log line, these are all good ways to share your plot in one tasty little morsel. An amuse-bouche, if you will. The literary equivalent of this caprese salad on a spoon, summer in a mouthful.
If you know, say from the agent’s Twitter timeline or their agency bio, that they love Veronica Mars or corgis or 80s music or Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, and it’s relevant to your writing, mention it in your query. If you’re comparing your work to a favorite author of theirs, make sure you’ve read their work and aren’t just going by the TV/film version, which may be very different. But if you just want to share that you too love the TV shows Happy Valley and Luther–yay, you have good taste–but it has nothing to do with your book, save that for later.
If you’re participating in a contest or Twitter event, and your work is requested there, please do mention that in your subject line. Try to choose contests with high success rates that best suit you and your work, whether Brenda Drake’s #Pitmad or #PitchSlam or #DVpit or some of the other great ones out there. Follow hashtags like #AskAgent #MSWL #AskFuse #AskEditor, etc. for great info.
To see an interview with my wonderful client, Claribel Ortega, and the pitch that hooked me, visit http://dvpit.com/ortega-richter-mclean.html. I was lucky enough to sign her after the last #DVPit event (next one’s in October!).
You can find my guide to Query Letters here: https://www.amazon.com/Short-Guide-Query-Letters-Guides-ebook/dp/B00OCA31BO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1472674446&sr=1-1&keywords=short+fuse+guide+to+query+letters