A query letter is a business letter. Check. That’s easy and straightforward enough that most of us get it.
A query letter is also the writer’s opportunity to connect with the agent. But remember, it is still a business letter.
Did you hear the agent speak at a conference? Then say so. “When I heard you speak at the Mashed Mangoes SCBWI conference, your wish list included picture books about tropical fruit. Enclosed…” In much the same way I’ve reminded agents that we had dinner together as fellow conference speakers.
In much the same way, you should also let the agent know if your manuscript is a good match for a recent #MSWL (Manuscript Wish List) post on Twitter or their profile listing on the Manuscript Wish List web site. Just be sure to keep is short and simple. “On March 2, 2017, your blog post included a call for …” “Your February 22, 2017 #MSWL tweet …” You don’t have to quite them word for word. Just mentioned the post, tweet or whatever. This will let the agent know why you have chosen them and that you aren’t sending your work to every agent in the SCBWI directory.
But keep it business like. If the agent likes dogs and you have a canine manuscript, say so but don’t gush on-and-on about man’s best friend. If the agent tweeted about Firefly and you have a manuscript with the same feel, say so without confessing your undying love for Nathan Fillion or Gina Torres.
Loved her hair? That’s awesome. But keep it to yourself.
Think he has great taste in messenger bags? Cool! But don’t mention it.
You want to make a connection but you don’t want to come off stalker-ish, creepy or just plain strange. I know, I know. Most of us don’t need to be told that but my job at one conference was to follow the editor to the restroom and make sure no one bothered her while she was doing her business. Yep. I was a bathroom bouncer.
Make that connection but be professional. As Cobra Bubbles would say in Lilo and Stitch, “Do I make myself clear?”