Rule #1: When you begin your query letter, tell them what you want. Don’t blab on for paragraphs about your past history, even if it does in a very small way relate to your book.
Stupid Krista Example:
All my life I dreamed of my future husband. When I was a girl, I loved to lay in my bed and dream about what he would look like, what he would sound like. I loved to listen to married women tell their stories, and prayed that someday I would have a fun story to tell myself.
I am happy to tell you today that God answered my prayers! My husband and I have been married eight years now and I proudly tell my story to all who ask. When I tell people how we met, they do a double-take and promptly sit down to hear more. You see, I am one of the few, one of the proud, who have met their spouse online.
Yes, stop laughing. I really did start a query letter once with that garbage. (Thank you GOD I only sent it once before I realized my stupidity.) And mind you it’s all true, and it was leading up to telling about my book which features a guy and girl meeting in a chat-room, but yeah, uh, just don’t do it.
I also sent out a query letter once via e-mail and started it with a note that I’d been referred by a well-known author. They website says in a page to aspiring writers, “You’ll need an agent. I use… blah blah blah.” Granted, I was honest, I said I was referred by so and so via their website, but still. So very very tacky! Only mention a referral if you KNOW that person and you really were referred. Otherwise, you’ll be promptly met with the DELETE button.
A little better Krista Example:
Dear wonderful awesome agent dude/lady:
I am currently seeking agent representation for a contemporary romance novel I have completed, and would be honored if you would consider partnering with me on this venture.
My novel is about Jenny, an introverted accountant, who meets Jack, a single dad, in an Internet chat room. (etc. etc.)
First, don’t copy me. I don’t have an agent yet, so this might be a load of crud, plus it will make us both look stupid if you send it to someone I’ve already sent it too and the agent gets deja-vu. *grin* But, my point is, I changed it to be direct, professional, and to the point. What do I want? Agent representation… What is my book about? Glad you asked, let me just tell you!