I receive email updates from Writer's Digest. There is always good information in these emails. I store them in a little folder in Outlook. I rarely look back at them. Hey, I have VCR tapes I recorded 10 years ago and still haven't watched. I'll get to it . . . one day. Anyhow, the email today had a link to this article from the blog Guide to Literary Agents.
Now, I'm not going to bore you with all the details - you can read them for yourself - but, Barbara (sorry, Janet) had some great advice called: The Hook, The Book, and The Cook.
The advice is . . .
Barbara Poelle used this catchy line to describe the three ingredients of your query letter. The hook is a one sentence description of what your book is about. Yes, one sentence. Check Publishers Lunch for examples of great loglines. The book: four or five sentences that give more detail about the story. The cook: brief information about you, the writer.
First - this is just what Barbara Poelle wants, not every agent. Every agent is different. That is the important thing to remember. What one agent loves another might hate, and vice versa! Keep. That. In. Mind!!!!
Second - I love this advice. This advice breaks the query into a very finite form. Yes, others have done the same, but I like the phrasing, so I'm repeating it here . . . but not attempting to take anything away from somebody else.
Third - need I say more? Barbara Poelle said it all in a very concise manner. Read it. Learn it. Use it!