Query letter writers, let’s address another issue I often notice when I’m looking at query letters clients have written–that of style. Remember that your query letter is a sales pitch for your book and as such it should intrigue the reader from the first word. Basically, you are Don Draper, this letter is an advertisement pitch from Sterling Cooper Draper Price, and you have got to get that client on board with no delay.
The best way to do this is to, first, write an amazing book, then write a query letter that reflects the style of your book. What if the agent doesn’t like your style? Wonderful. You have just saved the both of you a lot of time and trouble. What I’m saying is that your query letter, while it needs to be professional, doesn’t need to be professional in the sense that it’s informational and dull. It should startle, intrigue, and peak interest, exactly like your book does on its first page. Grab the agent’s attention by opening with a paragraph written in the witty, mysterious, or dynamic style of your book. This, after all, is what an agent looks for: something engaging.
Your query letter shows its professionalism by including the relevant information: theme, plot, page or word count, storyline, character information, and so forth. Just the fact that you get all the required info across in one page shows your professionalism, so don’t drag the letter down by trying to sound like a lawyer. Sound like you. Sound like your book. The agent has had a hard day and nothing would make her happier than to meet someone interesting right now, who makes her believe in originality, again. Be that person. Most of all . . . be you.