Before I began searching for an agent, I researched how to write an effective query letter. Some of the complaints from agents amazed me. There are people out there who call the agent 'honey,' spell their name wrong or don't bother to put a name at all. They need to keep in mind that this is a business. You wouldn't go on a job interview in torn jeans and drinking a beer. You wouldn't call the person interviewing you 'sweetheart.' Not if you wanted the job. So here are a few things I've learned along the way.
1. Address the agent by name and be sure to spell it right.
2. Do not send bribes or beg. This isn't American Idol.
3. Don't tell the agent this is 'just something I threw together.' Be confident in your writing.
4. Make sure to tell the agent the genre, word count, and other specifics about your book including a summary. Think of it as what you would see on the back cover.
5. Don't tell them about your mother's herb garden (unless you've written a book on gardening), but do tell the agent about your publishing history if you have one.
6. Make the letter brief, no more than a page. I've heard several agents say they just skim query letters.
7. Thank the agent for his or her time.
8. Most of all, be professional.
And if you get a rejection, don't write a nasy note back to the agent. They talk to each other. Especially in this day with Twitter and emails, you can't get away with stuff like that and it isn't professional. If the agent doesn't want to represent your work, you don't want them. Believe me. It's nice to have someone (an agent) in your corner, someone who loves your book and is enthusiastic about it. Happy writing!