Whether or not you are using the snail mail approach or the email approach, showing that you are professional and you know the proper etiquette for correspondence helps a lot. Below I have two sample letters. The first is for regular mail and the second is for email. I think there are several things to note here that are great reminders:
- Make sure to address the query to a specific editor or agent. "Dear agent" or "To Whom It May Concern" simply tells us you are just mass mailing this to everyone.
- Addressing an individual is also important considering how many agencies and publishers have interns and assistants opening mail first. If you want it to land in the hands of a particular person, you have to put their name up top.
- Keep it simple and straightforward. Now rambling
- Be professional. This is not the time to demonstrate your amazing gift of word choice or voice. That is what your manuscript is there for.
- I recommend putting title, genre and word count at the top. This gives the agent and/or editor a chance to think of the story in a particular context or to think about placement of the story. Too often, we have no clue where the story would fit until we hit the end of the query. This is especially the case with YA and New Adult.