Forget all those multiple-step guides to writing the perfect query letter. There is no such thing as the perfect query. It’s subjective. One agent could love it, while another will fail to note a single redeeming feature in that same letter. So how do you write a quality query? Same way you write quality fiction: write, edit, set it aside for a week or two, then return to revise some more. It’s all about looking at your work with fresh eyes. Whether it’s a novel, short story, or a bloody annoying query letter, the same rules apply. If this doesn’t quite blow your hair back, Writer’s Digest has some solid ‘alternative’ advice.
Cut it Out: Cut the bejeebers out of that mother. Get to the point and don’t bother naming more than two or three characters. Agents are busy people; they have no patience for a rundown of every detail. That defeats the purpose of a query letter in the first place! Think Jon Lovitz in League of Their Own: ‘Field, try-outs, play.’ Get to the point. Forget the throat-clearing waffle of telling the agent you know all about her. I’ve found I get better responses when I skip that and serve up the ‘hook’ right off the line. Then you give ‘em the meat and potatoes of the tale. Follow all that up with dessert: the twist. WHAT MAKES YOUR BOOK STAND OUT?
There it is; your masterpiece in 250 words or less. When you think you’ve finally polished that bugger to a prosey shine, put it away and sleep on it for a week. If it’s not your 18th version, it ain’t ready yet. Godspeed, Query Master.