Monday, October 5, 2015

Why Stock Query Letters Are Not Successful

I know there are a lot of agents out there who claim they don't read query letters. I personally don't believe this is the case. I do think they at least look at those letters and, unfortunately, too many authors are giving those agents a reason to say no, before they even get to the submission. You simply don't want this!

So what are they doing? In simple terms, authors are sending out "stock query letters." In other words, they write one query letter, change the name and address at the very top of the query letter and fire those bad boys out to every agent on a list. There is a belief that one size fits all. This is not the case. Although there will be similar information that shows up in each query letter, the things you address will be different in each query letter. But here is where things just go down hill.

Over the weekend, I worked my way through over 60 query letters. The majority of these were clearly stock query letters. What these people were stating in the query letters made if very clear they had not done their research and were simply making broad general statements.

One I see over and over again is, "After seeing the authors who you represent and the great publishing record you have, I know this project is a perfect fit." Now, while this might sound like the author has done the research, if the project is not a genre I represent, or they are referencing a genre that maybe I have limited or no authors in, even though I acquire it, this tells me the person is not doing their homework.

We see this too when people make references to submission guidelines but there is absolutely no content in the statement that even shows the author looked.

Now, I understand this might be a small point, but it does say a lot about the skills of the author. This is someone who, as an agent, I have to count on to do quality research and put a great image out there for the public. If this person is demonstrating a lack of basic skills for research, can I even trust their work.

Yes, your bio will be the same. Yes, the brief blurb about your story may be slightly different. But the rest of the query, where you seriously market your book will be different and unique for every person you send this to.

I started this post with a comment and I will say it again. Don't give us a reason to reject you.

1 comment:

  1. The trouble is, agents know how unique and different they are. All aspiring authors have to go on is the brief blurb on the agency website, and maybe if you're lucky occasional blog or Youtube interview (which still doesn't tell us much). It's dreadfully hard to personalise a query letter because that's not enough to begin to get a sense of the agent as a person.