Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Mentioning Clients

Hello Ms. Rejecter,

I have read interviews with agents who mention that they like it when a writer shows they've done their research on them by mentioning a current client of theirs or what types of books they prefer. Is this true? And if so, does it really have any effect on whether or not the agent will want to read more? My dilemma is I'm not sure how to show I've done my research, read books by their clients, etc. without sounding gushy. What's your take on this?

Mentioning a book type they prefer shows only that you own a copy of Writer's Digest. The most hilarious part is when people get it wrong, and say something like, "I know you much you love chick-lit..." when in fact, the agent hates it and has never done it except for that one time because the offer was huge and the writer was especially talented.

Mentioning a client of theirs as being an inspiration to you or whatever is a good idea, and does give you points, but not really a whole lot of points. The biggest "point givers" are (1) your actual novel idea and (b) any writing credits you have. The other stuff is minor.


Richard said...

What weight is assigned to previous writing credits?

From my point of view (which is by no means ordinary or correct), I would consider previous work to weigh heavily only in the case of potential future work, “Hey! I’ve got this great story idea. Here is what I’ve done in the past. Do you want me to proceed with this one?”

On the other hand, with manuscript in hand, I would assume previous writing credit is less heavily weighted and significant bias is given to the first 5 pages. I can only see previous writing credit, maybe, prompting the reviewer to read past the first 5 pages (should they prove unexceptional).

Kitty said...

And what if you don't have writing credits?

Fourteen Year Old Writer said...

Should we mention if we read their blog or subscribe to their newsletter?

Anonymous said...

I think it would be useful to read recent books that have been repped by agents you're considering, as a means of finding the best match, but not necessarily so you can name-drop in your query letter.

But I'm unagented (and unpublished), so take it for what it's worth.

Don said...

From reading Miss Snark and others, the reason for mentioning authors/tastes, etc. is to show that you aren't just sending a query letter to every agent in the WM. What you want to do is establish that you're targeting this particular agent for a reason. It won't substitute for good writing, but agents do not like getting junk mail.