First of all, I understand that many of you have heard that editors and agents really do not look at the query letters (or even the synopsis you were sweating over). But, I have to say, they are going to look at these and those letters will have an impact on the way they see you or read your submission.
It is important to remember that the query letter is the first impression you are making with that potential editor or agent. As they read that letter, they are already formulating thoughts about whether or not they will like your writing. No, they are not really considering the story at this point; this is all about their decisions of you as a person.
Your goal is to show the editors and agents your level of professionalism and your knowledge of the business as a whole. They want to see how much work they are going to have to put in with you. Are they going to have to spend a lot of time teaching you the business, or are they going to be able to get right to work on building your career and your writing?
With that said, do not spend the time telling us that you are new to this business. Do not spend the time going on and on about how you have attended all of these workshops just to learn the business. You might think that you are showing us that you are invested in the career; however, what this is really showing us is that you are still learning the business.
Your query letter also needs to show us a complete picture of your story. Again, I know that many have been told that the blurb about your book is similar to those that you find on the back of the books. While this is heading in the right direction, those blurbs are meant as teasers for your book buying readers. Of course, with these people, you will not want to give away the ending or a lot of the little twists and turns of your story. But for editors and agents, we need to have a complete picture. We really need to see the following:
Finally, it is really important that you demonstrate to us that you have done your research on the agency and publisher. It is your goal to show the editor or agent why you are contacting this person as well as why your writing is a perfect fit for that person. If you think about applying for a job, your cover letter tells that employer why you are a perfect candidate.
Where I see a lot of authors mess this up is that they simply focus on the fact that the agent or editor acquires that genre. It is more than that! We are looking for you and your writing being a perfect fit.
I want you to really read your query letter today and ask yourself, based on what you have written, would you hire yourself? Read it as if this is the first time you have read your query letter.