Your query letter is the key. The key to the door. The key to the door of the office of the literary agent who knows the phone numbers of editors at publishing houses who might maybe consider publishing your work.
Reading back over that, I realize it sounds a bit like breaking and entering. Don’t do that. Use e-mail. It’s an e-mail key. It’s…you get the idea. It’s important. Write it.
TLN’s Super Scientific Method for Query Letter Writing
Read everything in the QueryShark archives. Twice. Okay, three times.
Consider bribing someone else to write it for you. Actually bribe someone else to write it for you.
Write a first draft of your query letter. Hate it. Write another one. Hate it more. Revise the first one until you hate it more than the second. Rinse and repeat.
Read everything in the QueryShark archives. Consider submitting one of the query drafts you hate. Chicken out.
Have a trusted friend (preferably a fellow writer who knows the agony of query letters) read your query letter and offer suggestions. But only if they’ve read the entire archives of QueryShark at least 12 times. Otherwise they know nothing and will destroy your precious work. Just kidding. Sort of.
Write one more draft of your query letter. Ignore it for two weeks. Read it again and only cut the things you still hate.
Scour the internet for copies of the query letters of your favorite authors. Regret it instantly because you’ll never write something so beautiful and perfect and magically magnificent as their query letters.
Wallow in despair. I recommend flailing. Loudly. Ignore friends who suggest flailing is a silent activity. They’re wrong.
Crawl back to your computer and reread your query letter post-flail. Decide it’s not the worst thing you’ve ever read, which is something.
Suck it up. Revise it until it works for you. Trust that you’ve learned what you need to know in order to succeed (have I mentioned QueryShark?). Realize that agents know you aren’t a query-writing robot, but a flawed human being with mad word skills. Believe in your concept, your story, you work. Let the query sing for you. Everything is gonna be okay. Take a deep breath. Ask for a hug if you need one. You got this.
Okay, LadyNerders, share your query agony in the comments below. Feel free to flail.