Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Question: No personalization allowed

I am preparing to send out my first round of queries to a small number of agents. One agency's submission guideline page said this, "Please do not send any of us individual email directly. Thank you!"

It is my understanding that queries should be addressed to a specific agent. The submission page does list four agents with their preferences on subjects and such. I do feel that one agent of the four would be the most interested in my query.

So my question is who should I address the query to? To the agency? To the specific agent?

This is the only agency where I have come across this request. Thank you for your time and advice.

Does this agency ask you submit the query to a generalized email address like Queries@AuctionThisMofos. com?

If so, what they mean by "don't send individual email" is do not query

If you are to send a query to a generalized email, you can personalize within the email but send it to the query email address listed.


Fr: Your email address
Subject line: Query for GONE ONCE by You The Author (a novel)

Dear AgentB:

You have good taste. I write good. Let's make money.


I think what this agency is trying to avoid is having multiple agents get the same query (this happens more than you think) or queries going to the wrong mailbox. Depending on how the agency is run, agents may only get screened queries so it's Really Important you send to the email address they give
and not try to bypass the gatekeeper by sending to Agent B directly.  Most likely she'll just throw it out.


Steve Forti said...

I think you just wrote the next draft of my new query letter. Reminds me a bit of the exchange from "Idiocracy" - "You like money, too. We should hang out."

Rachel said...

This is a great question, and one I've been thinking about for awhile. One agency I'm eyeing has a form on their website for sending queries, and I've been trying to figure out if that means I should personalize it or not. Some of my writer friends say yes, and others worry that doing so will insult the other agents and shut me out of potential opportunities with them. But this answer has me leaning more towards personalizing it to the agent I think would be the best fit.

Rachel said...

By personalize I mean "address it to one specific agent as opposed to the whole agency." Not necessarily personalizing it with reasons why I'm querying that person, though maybe that too.

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

If they tell you "don't do it," why would you do it? All it does is show the publisher you can't follow directions. Don't give people a reason to reject you before they've even looked at your work.

Craig F said...

Most of the agencies that do it that way have an assistant that runs interference. The assistant separates the wheat from the chaff and decides what agent gets to see what.

This doesn't mean that the assistants are inhuman and don't at times feel small. They are capable of occasional fairy godmother flourishes. One of them turned me on to query shark and thence to here.

Just because it seems impersonal does not mean that it is inhuman. The agents that created that slave labor position are less human than the assistant. Be nice.

Terri Lynn Coop said...

I love the Question Emporium. The answers remind me of those I give my legal clients.

Q: When I'm on probation, can I (insert questionable activity?)

A: Ask your PO. When you walk through that door, you become the property of your PO, as surely as if you were in stripes and cuffs. If you PO says "stand on one foot and quack like a duck," your only response is "left foot or right?

So, it seems if I substitute "agent" for "PO," this advice applies here as well.


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