Yesterday I focused on what agents want out of query letters, but there are plenty of other places to get valuable help as well.
The very first resource I found was AgentQuery. It's an outstanding overview of queries, along with do's and don'ts and suggestions about how to make a query intriguing. It also has links to other websites, including query letters that have garnered an agent.
Which leads me to this addendum. It's not just what agents say that interests me. It's what they do. What kind of letters are they truly, actually responding to?
Here are some authors who have posted the query letter that landed them the agent and a published book:
Various Romance Authors
Sara Rees Brennan
Simon Haynes (From here there is a list of links to other author queries in what is known as "The Query Project")
(If you are an author and have landed an agent and would like to post your query here, or have me place a link to it, I'd love to do that!)
The thing to be careful of here is that there are many reasons someone may have gotten requests from an agent. It could have been that the plot overshadowed bad querying. It could be that the agent had some connection with the material (which is, actually, ideal if you can find that, the way I tried to find agents with some connection to diabetes).
Times change, too. With the acceptance of email, agents are getting hit much harder with queries. People who wouldn't invest in the money for stamps for 100 agents two years ago might well send out 100 emails today, and an agent who used to get 20 queries a day may be now getting 100. The more competitive the field, the more you need to WOW them, the less sloppy you can afford to be.
Here is another interesting post about querying and breaking into the publishing world by a new author, David J. Williams, whose tongue-in-cheek approach to this topic made me laugh - in that sad, I-want-to-cry-because-it's-so-true kind of way.
And just for fun, because it's Friday:
Here's a great satire on writing the query letter
And here's what agents do on Friday night.
Phew. I think I'm done with queries. Next up, finding agents.