What makes a "bad bad bad query"? one reader wanted to know. I'll share my super scientific, exact measuring and weighing system. Okay, I don't have an exact measuring system for bad bad bad queries. What I do have is the "ick factor." Also known as the "Vickie's brain just got utterly scrambled by your query, therefore, after a brief therapy of carbs and Gilmore Girls, she will reject you factor."
A bad bad bad query has most of the following elements (add or subtract a few):
- does not include a proper greeting
- it's obviously a mass email because the sender neglected to hide the bccs
- over or under stretches on the hook
- does not properly describe the characters and plot
- does not explain the conflict in the novel
- does not include contact information or even the sender's name
- I am left not knowing what they are pitching (new ms, self published, what?)
- I have read it five times and still don't know what it's about
All that research, and you neglect to research how to write a query letter? Your researching job is not finished. Keep going. And once you hook that agent, she is going to send you after more research (comparables ring a bell?). So your job as the researcher is never finished. You get to prove your competence as a writer through the query letter. First impressions and all that. Don't screw it up.
Happy (query) writing!