Just reading that word is enough to give some people hives. Or to go into a catatonic state of shock and fear. That little one page letter that is the difference between getting an agent or getting rejected. True, the query itself won't actually get you an agent; but in order to get the coveted request to read your manuscript (which will then--hopefully--get you the agent), you have to nail your query.
If you aren't quite sure what a query is, there are TONS of great blogs and websites that explain it and I'd be happy to recommend some if you'd like. For now, the quick explanation is that you have one to two paragraphs to introduce your story in a way that is intriguing, unique, and shows your MC's voice, one paragraph to introduce yourself, and that's about it. Simple, right?
Yeah. Except that, as I mentioned, everything rides on those two little paragraphs. Think of it as a back of the book or cover flap summary. What makes you decide to buy a book in the store? It's the same idea for your query. When you read the jacket flap of a book at the store and put it back on the shelf, have you ever stopped to think about what it was that made you put it back? Queries are the same way.
The only difference is that agents are reading hundreds of them every week. Imagine if you read that many jacket flaps of books all the time; would it make you more discerning in what you decide to pick up and read? So tell me, what makes you pick up or put down a book - and how could you apply that to your queries?
In my next post (before I leave, woot woot!) I will discuss a few tricks and tips I've learned that helped me polish my queries and eventually helped me get an agent.