Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for "Dear Editor"...

...which is something you should NEVER use to open a query.

Equally, you should never use "Dear Agent." These openings make the recipient of your query feel like they've been the recipient of a mass-email, and nobody likes that feeling. (I appreciate the irony of an editor telling us to query widely, and then saying that they don't want to feel like they're just one of a bunch of people receiving your query, but still. It's just not nice to be MADE to feel that way, even if it's a little bit true.)

You should also not open with anything like "Dear Agent Awesome," or "Dear One Who Holds My Dreams in Her Hands," or "O Worthy One," or anything like that. Some people think it makes you look witty, but it doesn't. It makes you look like a fruitcake, and we all know what happens to fruitcake: it ends up in sitting in a tupperware for 12 months until it finally sprouts a mould spore and you have an excuse to throw it in the trash. You don't want that to be your manuscript mouldering in some editor's trash.

Also, the fact is that most of the people who get your query are going to have to pass on it, for perfectly good reasons, which is fine - you only need one person to say "yes" - and saying "no" to someone is HARD. It sucks more than my mother's Dyson. Nobody likes turning people down. So don't make it harder for them by actually stating in your opening how high your hopes are that they will like your work.

Keep it professional. Use his or her last name. And that's it for queries for today!

For more #AtoZchallenge posts, check out the list here.


  1. I think everyone appreciates that they got a little extra attention even if you are working a lot of angles and they know it.

    Aurora Celeste

  2. It's hard to believe anyone would address a query letter so unprofessionally, but I guess they do.

  3. I studied music in college and a teacher said once that it would be easier to record my stuff, throw it into a ditch on the side of a deserted road, and hope that an agent got bored and wanted a new sound and happened to pull over and find our recording in the ditch then to get signed with an agent the traditional way. But of all the millions of no's, just remember it's only the one yes that you need. I remember that as I'm now querying. Good advice.

    1. LOL, looking for some good ditches now, Laura!

  4. That is such basic good advice, and it is so often ignored.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  5. Great advice, Ishta, who wants to be a fruitcake?! We all like the personal touch, I guess.

  6. So true! I can imagine an agent/editor rolling his/her eyes at some of the 'clever' openings they get! :)

  7. Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting. Though I'm not a writer I very much enjoyed this post - good advice with humour - the best kind of advice!

  8. Great idea...never thought of the catchy titles you mentioned.
    Good D word and so helpful!

  9. Having been born at least part fruitcake, this is the kind of basic, common sense advice that I need feeding at regular intervals. Thank you!

  10. I am enjoying your A to Z posts. I like the "fruitcake" bit.