Last week, one of the agent blogs I read gave a piece of advice about query letters that really stuck with me. Essentially, he said to think of what everyone else will say and then say something different.
Am I the only one who finds this extremely unhelpful? The internet abounds with query letter advice. Don’t use colored paper. 12pt Courier or Times New York. One page with a max of two paragraphs for plot and one for previous publishing credits. Must include genre and word count. In the more nebulous realm of things it must also be informative, business-like and entertaining. And now, on top of that, it has to be unique. I would go crazy if every time I thought I had a good idea for a query, I had to scrutinize that idea and wonder if everyone else had the same idea.
I saw an agent-assistant blog that made fun of queries that used rhetorical questions, so now I guess that’s a bad idea. I feel sorry for agents and their assistants who have to read the same sort of query letters over and over, but we authors are floundering out here, too. In the submission process, the query is rapidly becoming more important than the novel. All agents say that the important thing is to write a good book, but that’s losing some of its truth. Many agents want just a query before any material, so that query has to knock their socks off.
I guess I gotta go take my rhetorical question out of my query letter.