Attention All Agents! The Query Letter Checklist is Here!

Dear Agent:

In the interest of giving you exactly what you want by way of a query letter, please select from the following Query Letter Checklist choices. (NB: This author will ONLY accept electronically-submitted checklists. NO snail mail.)

1. Greeting and agent flattery
a) Love it – stroke the ego, pop the question.
b) Skip it – I already know I’m uber-agent so get to the point.

2. Hook
a) I’m sooo Hollywood – give me something a la “Jaws meets Mary Poppins.”
b) I’m not a fish for God’s sake – just tell me about the goddamn book already.

3. Main conflict/plot
a) One short paragraph, tops.
b) One short paragraph, tops.

4. Writing conferences, workshops, classes, etc.
a) I could care less. Any no-talent yahoo with some money can attend a writing conference.
b) I want to know if you’ve devoted time to your craft, i.e. spent yourself into debt on conferences and workshops that involve bad food, late-night on-the-spot critique sessions with other bitter writers who tear your work to shreds, and morning-after hangovers, induced by the massive amounts of alcohol you consumed after a day of botched verbal pitching.

5. Publishing credits
a) If they’re any good and in anything I’ve ever heard of (e.g. New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, etc.), they should be in paragraph one (after agent flattery).
b) Sure, I’d love to know that you were published in the non-paying ‘zine Wannabes and that you placed third place in the Only-a-Fool-Parts-with-His-Money-$300-Entrance-Fee Contest. I want to know so I can laugh, really hard, as I use your query letter as an example of what not to do on my agency’s website.

6. Closing
a) A “thank you” and a “sincerely” are fine.
b) Hugs and kisses. Throw some gold glitter in the envelope, too, while you’re at it. Oh, and use pink, scented stationery and include a gift, maybe chocolates. That will be sure to get my attention and bump you up to the head of the line.

Please note: I do my best to respond in a timely manner but only those agents submitting a polished and error-free checklist can expect to get the query letter of their dreams. The rest of you, don’t give up! There’s a frustrated writer out there for all of you. Thousands, in fact.