I have one thing to say about query letters: They're hard.
A query letter is something every aspiring author needs to find an agent. It's the requirement. You don't send an agent a politely worded letter, describing what your story is about and why that particular agent should represent you. What you do is you pitch and you pitch hard. That's what a query letter is. A pitch. A cleverly written summery about who the main character is and what the plot is. No frills or fluff, just basics. It has to be catchy too, grabbing instant attention that makes the agent crave more.
And that is hard.
I wrote a query letter. Thought it got the job done, summerized the story, even added a small hint of humor. I set it aside and went back to work on my story, fine tuning it, forgetting the query. While checking my tweets the other day, I saw a tweet from a blog I follow called Query Shark. The blog is run by an agent who critiques query letters sent by authors who want to improve their chances of snagging an agent.
Advice is given to help improve query letters, stating what is needed, suggesting what to throw out and how to address the agent. An entry on rules to submit to the site is listed along with recommending you read ALL of the entries. There's a lot of entries too, but from what I've read so far, it's worth reading through every entry. After reading only a few, I went and found my old query letter, read through it, cringed and opened a new text document and tried to start a new one.
Four hours later and I had three sentences.
I couldn't figure out what to say, how to describe my story, summerize who Tommy was, what his struggles were in a way I liked even a little or thought would grab an agent's attention. I still only have those three sentences, still not certain what to write, but at least now I know what not to do in a query letter. It's not a great step, but one step closer on my journey.
For more info on query letters and agnets, check out Query Shark's blog, Guide to Literary Agents and Agent Query.