The perfect query letter -- is it a myth or reality? Hard to say. It's like manuscripts; I've known writers who spend years going to query workshops and buying query how-to books and perfecting their queries with no luck, and others who land an agent and a contract with the first query letter they write. I've had a mixed bag of results with mine; ten years of novel query letters did zip for me; the very first non-fiction query letter I wrote landed my first nonfic sale:
February 1, 1999
1507 Dana Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45207
Re: Submission for Chronicle Article
Dear Ms. Smith:
What could go wrong when an interested editor calls and asks you to send a manuscript overnight? Everything!
I've enclosed my article, "Nothing can Possibly Go Wrong Now" for your consideration. It is 770 words in length, and takes a humorous look at what happens when a writer isn't prepared for that particular phone call.
If you have any questions, please contact me at (123)456-7890 or at the e-mail address above. Thanks for reading this and I look forward to hearing from you.
(BTW, you can read the article I sold with this query in the Aug '99 issue of Writer's Digest.)
It's always interesting to see how other writers compose query letters. I try to work a little humor into mine. Nicholas Sparks writes an extremely earnest, wordy query letter; I got a terrible urge to edit it while I was reading it. Lynn Flewelling goes more for neat and friendly. Personally I like Carolyn Jewel's query examples, which may be a bit too storytellerish for some but gave me a nice sample of her voice without making me think she was twelve.
I feel really terse compared to these folks, but short works better for me. How about you guys? Do you shoot for detailed query letters, brief/concise, or something else?
Agent Query.com's How to Write a Query.