Friday, February 10, 2012

February Requests: The Note

Let's start February Request month with what I like to call The Note. It's not a letter. Not an explanation.

When an agent requests some pages from you, 20, 50, 100, the whole thing, you attach (or paste in the email as instructed) the pages and add a note in the email.

A Note.

Why do I repeat myself? Because some people use it as an opportunity to explain why I shouldn't be put off by the first few pages and if I just push through I'll see why it's so great, or where and when they came up with the idea, or that it's based on a part of their life that meant so much to them, or a million other little things that frankly, the agent neither needs nor cares to know.

You know the expression, you never get a second chance at a first impression? Or first impressions matter most? Don't forget, second, third, fourth, fifth impressions matter too. Let us fall in love with your manuscript and start seeing dollar signs before you let the crazy out of the bag. Go back to my "don't" list for queries (here and here). These will apply to almost every step of the process. Forever.

So, the Note.

(agent's name),
Thank you for requesting (title). The (so many) pages are attached. I look forward to hearing more from you.
(closing signature)

Ain't it purty? Of course, put your own spin on it. You don't have to use my exact words. The agent has already decided he/she is going to read your ms, so you just have to deliver and wait. You can add more personal notes if you have a deeper connection to the agent (for example, it makes me smile if a writer references a joke we've shared on Twitter), but again, not necessary. Most likely I'll forget who you are once I start reading the ms. You don't exist.

Why should it matter if you're professional or not since I don't care about you while I read? Because I care about you after I read. Or, in some cases, a very unprofessional writer can turn me off from reading their ms at all--because I already know I don't want to work with them.

Happy writing!


Cassie Mae said...

I love the simplisticness (is that a word? Lol.) of the 'Note'. Gives me less of an opportunity to make a fool of myself. :)

Amber said...

I love your bluntness! Thanks for the tips. I begin the query process soon. Hopefully I get requests and can happily use your advice :)


Anonymous said...

Thanks. These are great points.

L.M. Miller said...

Thank you for saying that! Taking up too much room in an agent's busy inbox is frightening, but being rude more so.

Mart Ramirez said...

yes simple is best. Had no clue people listed all that extra extra. Wow. Especially the part about to keep reading it'll get better.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Short and to the point. I like it.

Giles Hash said...

I've heard many agents say that, along with that note, a copy of the email requesting the pages should be included (by hitting "reply" and making sure the email is quoted).

I certainly agree: let the writing speak for itself.