Okay, I was thinking about this recently and even more this morning, so I thought I'd write up a little post about the idea...
When you write a query letter, you're supposed to put a little something in there to personalize the thing. Where you found them, why you want to work with them, what it was about the agent or agency that drew you to them. I don't want to disparage the practice - because well, hell, people do like to know that you've done your homework.
Oftentimes, though, such a paragraph comes out sounding like you're trying to blow smoke up someone's... armpit. No matter how sincere you actually are trying to be.
So I leave it out.
Besides, after 8 years of querying, I'm not exactly sure where I found a particular agent initially, the whys of wanting to work with them are so numerous that detailing them would take more than a paragraph, and again, the what it is about a particular person that drew me to them are lost to the sands of time and my squonky memory cells.
Plus, telling someone that one article they wrote back in 2006 really blew my skirt up makes me seem like I'm just a Google junkie - which leads me back to the perceived sincerity (or lack thereof) issue.
Idea 1.2 (corollary):
When you truly love a writer and/or their work, and you go all fangirly in your reviews, you could possibly maybe sound like you're blowing smoke.
And there you are back at the sincerity issue again. Bleh.
So, in the interest of cutting through the bull-pucky, let me just come right out now and say this one stone-hard fact:
I do not blow smoke up anyone's... armpit... for any reason. If I tell you I like your work, I like it. If I get all fangirl and SQUEE, it's the truth. And if I do happen to say why I chose to send you my query, I'm telling it because I mean it.
Conversely, if I don't like something, I stay silent about it. Because my mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice, not to say anything at all. And she's one hell of a wise woman.
Oh, and just for the sake of making this clear: please, for the sake of all things you hold sacred, don't blow smoke up my as...armpit either.