I’ve blogged about how I targeted agents by keeping a detailed reading list and focusing on agents who repped novels that I could relate to my own work (targeting agents). Here is my actual query letter with my commentary in bold:
Dear Ms. Knowlton:
(start off with a bang; agents know it’s a query so don’t waste time saying so)
Fourteen-year-old Bethany was strolling through life just fine till her Dad smashed his car into a bridge, or so the story goes. Now Bethany must form an unlikely bond with the neighborhood kid of a mysterious gender to uncover the truth behind her father’s debilitating wreck and save her disintegrating family.
(spell out why you’re querying; show them you’ve researched)
I was pleased to read in an interview with K.L. Going that you are open to considering new clients. Would you care to review The Second Bridge, a 44,000 word contemporary YA novel? Having read Blind Faith, I thought of you for my project as Bethany, like Liz, finds solace outside her family as she struggles to connect with a parent who becomes disengaged after a traumatic loss. A couple years ago, I began a detailed reading list of YA books as a means of market research. Your name surfaces more than any other agent as I track books that appeal to me, including those by K.L. Going, Cynthia Leitich Smith (whom I met and discovered was in the same elementary district as me at the same time!), Catherine Atkins, and of course, all things Wittlinger. My children’s credits include One Smart Fish from Children’s Press, Highlights For Children (publication TBD), and Skipping Stones Magazine. I am a member of the Missouri Writers Guild and a senior writer at a Kansas City TV station where I earned an Emmy For Individual Achievement In Writing, as well as other industry awards.
(stop short of begging and hiney kissing, but be polite)
I would be thrilled if you would consider looking at The Second Bridge. Two sample chapters and an SASE for your reply are enclosed. Thank you very much for your time, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts.