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Pen IN Hand
Make your introduction like a professional. Donít introduce yourself first; rather, introduce your work. Your name will only be important if the agent is truly hooked and ready to read your manuscript. The first sentence of the first paragraph is where you hook Ďem. A powerful line from your book, perhaps even the first one is good. If you can work it into a question, something that is provocative, you should be able to give this person something to consider; not an answer to the question youíve raised, but a reason to read on. If youíre good with cutting to the bone, then a succinct blurb may work well for you as an alternative to a gripping line from your book.
Okay, you hooked your potential agent. Next you use a couple of paragraphs to tell him what the book is about. Donít go into detail; keep it broad, and unless thereís a very compelling reason to do so, donít reveal the ending. Donít try to tell the agent how wonderful you are. Focus on the story and avoid flowery adjectives. Be sure to mention what kind of a story it is Ė a romance, suspense, sci-fi, whatever it is.
By now, the agent is ready to request your manuscript. Now is the time to expand the picture with details of the length of the manuscript and a bit about you. Simply and directly state your background, writing credits (if you don't have any, leave that unsaid), and any special qualifications that might give you outstanding expertise with the story youíre presenting.
Close the letter by asking if the agent is willing to read your manuscript, and if so, how it should be presented (snail mail paper or CD, email, whatever). Politely offer your thanks for their time and consideration. If youíve done your homework and know the agency requests sample pages, donít forget to include them. State whether you want the pages returned to you. If you do, then include an envelope the correct size with sufficient postage. Proof your letter carefully for spelling errors and other mistakes and remember all this needs to fit on one page, two only if you really, really need to.
Finally, put it all together and send it off. You may not hear back for a month. If you donít hear in that time, a brief inquiry would not be inappropriate. If your query is rejected, either it wasnít the type of story the agency is looking to represent or the query wasnít intriguing enough for the agent to ask to see more. Reread it, rethink it, and try again.
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