Okay, so you’ve survived the subject line and the writing sample protocol. Big deal–your first real challenge is the Query Letter. A Query Letter is a cover letter that represents your novel or project. It is the main thing you send to an agent and the first thing they see in the body of an e-mail (it goes BEFORE the Writing Sample). It comprises three parts: the Sales Handle, the Synopsis, and the About Me.
So, why is a Query Letter so important? Simple: it could get you rejected—or it could get the agent interested enough to read more. There are two kinds of Query Letters that prompt an instant response. I call them the Duck-and-Cover Letters: the one that blows your chances, and the one that blows their minds.
And what are those instant responses? Well, one: instant rejection. You’ve completely lost your chance. They may not even read through the end of the query; and your sample chapters? Not a chance. And, two: instant interest. Not only will the agent read the Sample that follows a good Query Letter, but they will read it with a positive frame of mind. And when an agent is satisfied, impressed, or happy about a piece before they even read it, that makes your writing improve by default. This is what you want.
There you have it. The key things to keep in mind when writing a Query. After this, I’m launching full-speed-ahead into breaking down the Query Letter. It’ll be a long, hard road. Hopefully you’ve got big tires.