I realized I hadn't addressed personalization in my talk, probably because I think it's an utter waste of time for writers.
Many MANY of my colleagues seem to insist on it. "Tell me how you found me" "tell me why I'm the right agent for you" etc etc.
Let me ask a couple questions:
1. Does personalization tell you anything about the book being queried?
2. Does personalization make a difference in the quality of the writing in the book?
3. Does personalization have ANY impact on whether the book is publishable?
In other words, does personalization make any difference in the central question of a query: do you want to read this book?
And the answer is clear: no it does not.
Honest to Godiva, do we think there are acceptable and not acceptable ways to find us?
Your dear departed Mum spoke to me in a seance? (Honestly, that sounds exactly like something my mum would do just for laughs.)
I found your name etched on a table in the visiting room at Rikers? (Not a problem.)
Barbara Poelle mentioned you didn't have enough to do and thought my 300,000 word novel would be a good use of your time? (Bring it on.)And the idea that we have to be wooed just makes me crazy.
When you call Roto-Rooter to get your pipes cleaned, do you need to mention why you picked them instead of all the other plumbers?
Do you need to tell your dentist why she was your first choice in toothyness?
Of course not.
The presumption is these professionals offer a service you're in need of.
I've previously ranted on this subject, pointing out that asking writers to have a database of info on agents is an incredible waste of their time, particularly since that data base does not become more valuable over time.
I'm not sure if other agents just haven't realized how authors get on their obsessive rodent wheels about this kind of thing. Since I have a bird's eye view of you in the comment column here on a daily basis, maybe I have a better sense of it than most.
But a good agent should know what makes writers crazy. Personalization can and does.
I view my job as HELPING writers, not making them crazy.
Time for it to end.
If you want to query me, tell me about a book I want to read. You're a writer, I'm an agent. That is all we know and all we need to know, my beauty.