Dear Miss Snark,
I am just beginning my search for an agent and I read about you online. I very much enjoy your blog, and am pleased to see that you represent ______, whose work I love. You'll find the opening of my novel below. Please do let me know if you'd be interested in seeing some more.
I am a British writer, currently living near Boston. Since I moved here, I've taken time out to write. It has been an inspiring year for me, and now that I've completed "When Flowers Open and Stars Dance Round Your Head", I'm eager to take the next steps. (leave this out)
"When Flowers Open..." is about an eclectic group of friends, who secretly meet at midnight to escape their difficult lives. As their liaisons grow intense, they begin to trust one another and gradually learn to be themselves outside of the midnight hour. (this is too general to be a hook. Why will I care?)
Since I've been in the USA, I've sold some of my work. I have had short stories accepted by a number of UK magazines, including "Tears in the Fence" and "The Quiet Feather". My erotic novel has been signed by "eXtasy Books" and, as far as nonfiction goes, I have published educational articles in a variety of journals and newspapers.
I started out as an English and Drama teacher, and went on to work at a charity for those that are learning to cope with, and recover from, bullying. During this time, I studied for a Psychology degree at nights, with a focus on social development. I am, of course, an avid reader, and books have been a great source of pleasure in my life. (you can leave all that out too)
A few months ago, I took a "Grub Street" fiction course, and I felt very privileged that my tutor put me forward to read a story at a literary event, in advance of the evening's headliners. I enjoyed sharing my work, and a lot of people asked after my novels. All in all, it was a fantastic night! (while fun, this has nothing to do with the novel you're querying right now)
Thank you for taking the time to read my query. I look forward to hearing from you.
There's a boy on Nina's doorstep and he's kicking at the ground. His eyes are as blue as hers. "Ray?" she says. "Raymond *Dawes*? What are you doing here?"
He is chewing gum with his mouth open. When his gaze meets hers, he makes a sucking sound. He shrugs. His mouth is sullen. His eyes are hard and stark. His hands lounge in his pockets and a rucksack's slung over his back. His freckles make him seem darker than he is, and there's a rage in his eyes, like two hard bullets. "Fuck!" he says. And then again, "Fuck!" He seems to relish the sound of the word: the spit at the beginning, the snapped back end. He looks like he's just hurled a rock through a window. He's trying to say something, but she's not sure what.
This stepbrother of hers was once silent for two whole years. Nina wasn't with him, then - by the time he was born, she'd left to live with Dad. But she's heard the stories, and she knows the crazy Ray, and she's aware that this F-word means everything and nothing.
"What are you doing here?" she says. "Why did no one phone?"
He laughs without smiling. He squints as if he can't see. "Fuck!" he shouts, as if she's somehow thick. "Fuck, fuck, fuck!" He points at his wet lips. He stands there, a statue, a reminder of her guilt. She glances up and down the street, nods and lets him in.
this is the novel you're describing in the query letter? Could have fooled me. The writing is good, the query letter stinks. This one is the poster child for why we're doing this crapometer.
Focus that query. If it's about a group of friends, give us ONE person to focus on at first and tell us she's part of a group. Leave out all that personal stuff, make me want to READ your writing. I'm not going to read this novel cause I like you (although Im sure you're a very nice person) I'm going to read this cause your query is enticing.