So, part of my 100k-ish words that I would be editing in the month of July for my marathon of revision productivity includes updating my query letter. My old query letter was based on my book before I did a whole skeeze-ton of revision (skeeze-ton is a technical term…probably). Since I’m doing a lot of updating on my book, it stands to reason that my query letter would need an update.
When I went back and looked at my old query letter, I realized that not only did it not fully encompass what my book had become during revision, it was also boring. Before drafting it about a year ago, I’d done all the essential research on query letters. I learned what was and wasn’t required, what was strongly suggested and warned against. And my first attempt was just awful.
Of course, I didn’t think it was awful at the time. I thought it was fun, interesting, and info-packed. I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
My original query letter was boring, info-jam-packed, indistinct, and distracting. I realized there was an issue, when I went to reread the letter, and I realized that I didn’t really feel compelled to finish reading it. And I had written the darned thing! How was I going to get an agent to sign off on something if I couldn’t even keep my own attention?
Answer: Revise it! Or, in this case, rewrite it!
I sat down with the express and single goal: write something that would make ME want to read the book.
Obviously, this means it has to be not-boring. I had just gotten so caught up in the idea that a query letter had to fulfill a lot of requirements (character conflict/development, major plot excitements, groundbreakingly awesome foundation, and a great HOOK!). I got so caught up, that I forgot that the most important part is the hook.
If you’re writing a query letter, you already are including approximately the first ten pages of the manuscript, so there’s no need to oversell what you’re about to give them for free. A query letter boils down to this:
write something that will convince the agent to scroll down and read your first few pages.
After that, it all depends on if they like what they read, and if they feel like it’s the right fit for them.