Query letter. Two words that elicit so much anxiety in the belly-pit of a writer. Almost as much as 5-page synopsis. Unless you plan to self-publish, you have to write a query letter to tell an agent about your book. Why are they so darn hard to write? Maybe because they have too much to accomplish and a limited amount of space in order to do so. About 250 to 350 words, according to author (and former agent) Nathan Bransford.
Before you panic about writing your letter, it might help to think about famous authors, now published and once pre-published, fretting over their query letters, too. Thanks to the online powers-that-be, you can find some authors' letters for your perusal as well as agents who have dissected query letters that worked for them. Here are links to a few:
Nicholas Sparks for The Notebook
Jamie Ford for Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (formerly titled The Panama Hotel)
Garth Stein for The Art of Racing in the Rain
Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency
Elisabeth Weed, Weed Literary
You can also use the search box on our site to find other posts we've done regarding query letters. And if you just can't get enough Query Letter 101, you can always swim with The Shark here.