It seems simple, right? It’s just a salutation. What could be easier? But actually, in the digital age, addressing any business letter, not to mention a query to a literary agent is not as obvious as it might seem. Whether you are sending an e-mail query or an old-fashioned snail mail letter, here are some clear do’s and don’ts:
*Do check agency guidelines before you send a letter to any given agency or agent. Advice will vary from one agency to another in terms of whether it is OK to query multiple agents at an agency or not. At Joelle Delbourgo Associates Literary Agency, we prefer to that you write to one of us. Querying more than one agent is annoying to us because it requires two of us to take the time to read your query and respond to it. But every agency thinks differently on this point.
*Do address your letter to a specific person at a literary agency. Don’t address your letter to “Dear Sirs” or “Dear Madam” or “Dear Literary Agent” or”To Whom It May Concern.”
*Address your query to a single agent and a single agency at a time. Avoid the temptation to send out a mass mailing to a list of literary agents and agencies or even worst, to “undisclosed recipients.”
*Do make sure that the agent you are addressing is actually the right person at the agency for the subject matter or genre you are submitting. Again, the agency website and other online resources will help you target the right person. So, if you are sending a query for a mystery, you want to avoid sending it to the person who only handles nonfiction, and vice-versa.
Takeaway: Do your homework. Research who you are sending the letter to and personalize your salutation.
More posts to come on every part of the query letter in the weeks ahead, so check our “Buzz” blog often!