There are quite a few agent blogs out there now, and the millions of query transgressions are well-documented and, of course, well-mocked. It’s a wonderful time to be an aspiring author since it is now easier than ever to figure out how to send a query letter using proper protocol and to network with publishing types. But. There is a downside to all this information: agent blogs have created authors who are so scared about messing up one of the millions of query rules that they’re more nervous than a bachelorette at a rose ceremony.
So I have a new recommendation to add to the pile of query letter advice: don’t sweat it.
I mean, you should definitely sweat some things. You should work really hard to write a query letter that is an appropriate length, is gripping and amazing and makes me want to read more, and it should be personalized.
But beyond that? I’m not going to throw out your query if there’s a typo, or even if you spell my name wrong. I’m not going to laugh at you if I ask for a three page synopsis and you send me a four page synopsis. Heck, if your material is good enough, feel free to send me a query letter that begins with a rhetorical question, smells like it’s been sitting in a trashcan for three weeks, is addressed to the wrong agent, and even insults reality television and the Sacramento Kings. If it’s good, you can get away with quite a few mistakes.
What you should be worried about: writing a good letter. Agonize over that. Don’t worry about breaking a byzantine rule.
Remember these three C’s: use Common sense, be Courteous, and don’t be Crazy. If you follow the three C’s (and, um, write a brilliant letter), it’s gonna be ok.