Any agent (or editor) has a list in the back of her/his head, which consists of projects we’d love to work on. Ultimately the most information one can give the general public is our representative categories, keeping our fingers crossed those “pie-in-the-sky” projects will eventually cross the desk.
I’ve always operated by the belief that it is not my job to tell writers what to write. As an agent, I can give guidance on the quality of the project, a clear set of goals to work on, and determine if the project is a good fit for the agency. Much like the art galleries not telling artists what to paint, I always strive to keep this same standard at the agency.
Hence, it’s always greatly appreciated when a query letter truly shows the person did his/her research on Red Sofa Literary. Whether or not I accept the proposed project, there’s a strong chance it possesses some qualities of the “pie-in-the-sky” ideas I never publicly talk about.
Recently a person queried me about a book on an extreme sport, one that I personally love. Little did that person know for the last two years I have wanted a book for this category. Even reading the letter from this individual, it was very noticeable he did his research on the agency, as well as my own personal involvement in the sport. I immediately requested the book proposal, and look forward to reading it in the very near future.
Every author should have this same goal. Truly research the agents you are interested in querying. Do not mass mail every agent in the country your project. Instead find some similarities and shared interests in the agency(s) you desire to work with. Take the time to write a high-quality query, making sure to add that touch of familiarity to the tone of the letter(s). Figure out the agent’s interests, and match them to your book idea. You’ll be surprised how much we appreciate that extra work, and are more likely to consider the project.