10 Ways To Personalize Your Query to Agents

Writers hear that they’re supposed to personalize their queries–but “how personal, exactly?” is the most common question. The best queries show that they have engaged with us before (on Twitter, read an interview, or a blog post of ours) and have done their research. It’s easier than you think to show that personal touch.

Below are TEN great query intro’s you can model yours after:

“You’ve mentioned on your blog an interest in XX and so BOOK TITLE HERE might be of special interest to you.”

“After reading (and loving) CLIENT BOOK TITLE HERE, I am submitting BOOK TITLE HERE for your review.”

“I noticed on Manuscript Wishlist you are looking for XX and XX so I’m submitting BOOK TITLE HERE.”

“I am seeking representation for my novel, BOOK TITLE HERE, a work of XX complete at XX-words. For readers of XX and CLIENT BOOK TITLE HERE.”

“I enjoyed your interview with XX and am eager to present to you my query for BOOK TITLE HERE.”

“As per your request on #MSWL, I am hoping you’ll be interested in my book, BOOK TITLE HERE, an …”

“I am excited to offer, for your consideration, BOOK TITLE HERE, one that is HOOK, like your #MSWL requests.”

“I am contacting you about my novel BOOK TITLE HERE because of your wishlist mention of XX and XX.”

“I noticed your tweet requesting XX and I thought my novel BOOK TITLE HERE could be just what you’re looking for.”

“I am seeking representation for my GENRE novel BOOK TITLE HERE complete at XX-words. It is similar in theme to CLIENT BOOK TITLE HERE.”

You don’t need to gush too much and you don’t need to flatter us. You just have to use your professional judgment to share why you think we’d be a fit. If you tell me that you’ve read my blog chances are I’m going to like that because it shows that you understand what I’m looking for. If you’ve read my clients’ books that shows we might have similar taste. If you cite my MSWL posts that shows some research. It’s really the little details that will set you apart from the pack.

Make sure to also include in this opening paragraph: word count, genre/category/audience and don’t forget your book title!



Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

27 thoughts on “10 Ways To Personalize Your Query to Agents

  1. Hi Carly,

    As usual, your Monday Morning blog is the perfect way to start the week’s work. An extremely informative blog. There is such overload of information on internet that places that give simple and succinct information have become sparse. But your blog is one such place. Always, to the point and very professional advices. A great post. Thanks.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I’m wondering for you and (to the best of your knowledge) for other agents, to what extent personalization (social media interaction, citing a blog interview, etc.) is a plus? And the lack thereof is a negative or even an automatic rejection?

    (Assuming the query is properly addressed to the agent and the agent is impressed by the premise and writing.)


    Liked by 1 person

    1. It suggests research was done and I wasn’t a blind pick from a phone book list of agents. There has to be some reason that I was chosen. It’s not an auto-reject at all, but suggests some contemplation. It’s a big decision–finding an agent whose goals match yours–so intentional querying is ideal.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Carly. I love your posts but this one confused me a little. I’ve been led to believe that an agent decides to represent an aspiring author because of the potential success of the book and not because of what the agent likes. I appreciate that sometimes there’s a fine line between the two but shouldn’t the focus be more on the work rather than the agent’s tastes?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Valid concern. An agent’s job is to sell books. It’s our job to spot things. I request lots of projects that don’t get uber personal in their query letters. Yes, the work is the point of it all. But when you’re querying 20 agents with a carbon copy of the same query there is something missing. Why do you think I’m the agent to sell it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Carly. It’s been drilled in many of us to make sure we do our due diligence when researching who best to query. I can only speak for myself, but I don not want to waste my time or that of the agent and send queries only to those whom I believe would be best suited. Then it falls into the hands of “Fortuna” the goddess of fortune. :)


  4. Hi Carly,
    2 agents requested full MSS of my book, suggested (different) changes which I complied with and then passed on it. Should I mention this when querying other agents?
    Thank you for your help.
    Lynn Shelley


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