Do not send a "Dear Agent" Query?

Robert E. Parkin

The Cyber Network
Nov 28, 2014
New York
Okay, I've found already two agencies that state in their submission guidelines that they don't want you to send them a "Dear Agent" query...

What the heck does that even mean?

Everyone starts with "Dear SoAndSo, I found your agency and was hoping you would...." etc, etc.

Something about being impersonal was mentioned on one of the sites, but what are they asking? If you start with "Dear...." they will just trash the letter before even reading it because it sounds too impersonal? This has me horribly confused.

Has anyone else submitted query letters where agencies have said they don't want you to send them a "Dear Agent" email/letter?

Most agents like a sense of why you've approached them. So Dear and use their name (and if you sub to Juliet Mushens don't call her Julie, which loads of people do, apparently).

A couple of ways you can approach it:

I saw you were looking for submissions of.... (#mswl is good for this and can be referenced)


I noted you represented xyz and wondered if you would be interested in my book (shows you've done your research, only works if you have, though, and they're a good comparitor)

Basically I did this for all my queries and used a standard query for all mine except the submission which got me an agent who asked in her submission guidelines for me to say why I was the right person to write the book, which I answered off the top of my head....
I've not submitted to any of these agencies, but I think what they mean is they don't want a query which is obviously one of a dozen all sent out with exactly the same wording and instead of being addressed to "Dear Mr Bloggs" it literally begins "Dear Agent" because the writer hasn't bothered to individualise the letters and find out exactly who it is at that particular agency who deals with submissions.

I think it pays dividends actually to find out a bit about the agency to which you are writing, not least what authors they represent, exactly what they like in a writer, whose writing they most admre etc, so that you can tailor each letter to that particular firm, if only a little.
I may be wrong Rob, but I think they mean letters that do actually start 'Dear Agent' i.e. it looks very much like you are sending out form letters with no personalisation and probably mailing about four dozen agents at exactly the same time. It's another way of saying that they'll only look at it if it is exclusive to them. I'd guess (?)

EDIT: TJ beat me to it. What she and Springs says.