Fact: Clearly outlining in your query letter how your story fits in the market will encourage literary agents to read your entire email letter closely.
First off, what do I mean by “clearly outlining how your novel fits in the market”? You can do this by:
* listing other titles that would be comparable to yours.
* adding a line that readers who enjoyed X title, Y title, and Z title would also like your story.
* clearly designating your novel’s correct genre or type of work.
Note: This doesn’t mean saying that you as a debut writer are spectacular or that you write better than “insert famous author name.”
That is going to be read as hubris and won’t be helpful in making your query letter stand out. In fact, I have a suspicion that positing so in the beginning of your letter will probably result in a quick rejection.
The three bullet points above, by contrast, spotlight your professional savvy and the fact you did your homework about the current market. This is a business and writers who demonstrate a clear understanding of that in their query letter will attract agent attention.
Professionalism always encourages me to read the entire letter–unless it’s very clear to me early in the pitch that the type of novel just isn’t what I represent. And I imagine that’s true for a lot of my colleagues.