I will never understand sloppy query letters. It’s a familiar song and dance at this point: author writes manuscript, revises manuscript, generally pours heart and soul into manuscript, and then misspells agent’s name on query letter—or even worse, author opens with “Dear Agent.”
Your book might ooze literary genius, but a generic, lazily written query could put you at a serious disadvantage. It’s a first impression, so make it good, because agents might not give you a second chance. At the very least, show that you put some effort into the query by following some simple advice, courtesy of a couple DGLM interns.
Ashley believes that you should “try to keep your query to a neat and trim four paragraphs: the first two paragraphs being a short, concise summary of your book with a great hook at the beginning, the third paragraph being why you chose DGLM and the particular agent, and the last paragraph should be about you, your writing history, and your credentials. Be polite, be sure to check your grammar on your query (and your manuscript!), and be patient.”
Kelsey advises writers “to be original but not over-the-top. We have to read through a lot of submissions so it’s important to keep queries simple and straightforward. Also, do not compare your work to bestsellers and classic works of literature. Your query is not going to be taken seriously if you compare yourself to someone like Shakespeare. Overall, when writing your query, aim to portray your work in an honest and concise manner.”
For those interested in querying a particular agent here, please refer to our newly revised submission guidelines. You worked hard on that manuscript. Make sure your query letter reflects that.