Sometimes I simply don't understand agents.
I don't get mad about it. Instead, I just chuckle to myself and shake my head. I mean, really, could they confuse us poor authors any more?
For those starting out trying to create the "perfect" query letter, it can take them a bit of time before they realize that it doesn't exist. Or...perhaps it does. You just have to craft it to suit each and every agent's individual needs. And just as agents often talk about how they have so little time to read the hundreds of query letters they get each day (and they do), so can most of us writers talk about how we have so little time to specially tailor a query letter to every agent.
Now that's not to belittle agents. Likewise, that's not to say that most of us don't often tweak a letter here and there to make it more suitable. No, what I'm talking about are broader ideas.
I found a great example today while searching for agents to query.
One agency states, right on it's front page in their tips for queries, "Don't try and sell your work; that's our job!" True enough, it is their job, and yet every single person I have ever talked about with on the subject of query letters is that you need to sell your novel. That's the whole point of the query letter, is it not? Make your work so irresistible that the agent has to bite?
Indeed, not long after visiting them, I found another agent with an entire 3-page file devoted to crafting a great query letter (or at least a better one) and on the second page in big, bold font it says, "How to use selling points in your query letter" and by that they mean "all the book's major selling points."
Ha. Now this is NOT to alienate any agents out there, and I am NOT trying to be rude or snarky or anything but, gosh guys.
Could you confuse us any more? ;)
You know, I don't think agents even know what makes up the ideal query letter...