Let's go with another positive post today and talk about reasons why I request from the slush pile: the query letter itself.
Queries are really hard. Any writer who has ever been in the trenches knows this. Exactly how do you bottle up your wonderful story into just a 200-300 word summary? It takes a lot of practice to finally learn how. But I can tell you that all the practice is worth it.
I find a lot of the queries I read aren't very good. They're either too long or too confusing. They focus more on the author's life story than the actual book or they focus too much on the little details of the story rather than boiling it down to what's really important. But I never pass judgement just on a query. I'll always look at the pages no matter what the query says.
So then you might say, 'why does it matter? Can't I just let my awesome writing shine through?'
Well, having a query that makes your concept shine does something important. It makes me want to like your story. If I read a query that pops, it gets me excited. It makes me want to read the pages and I will over look a few flaws in the first pages for a good concept. Because, gosh darn it, I want this to be good. Now you need to have the writing to match it, but it helps to get me enthusiastic.
If a query is dull or confusing, I'm more likely to search for reasons to reject. Because I'm not excited, I'm looking for an excuse to stop reading. Flaws become more visible. Even worse, if your query is snarky or arrogant in tone, you might make me REALLY want to stop reading.
This isn't a constant rule. I have read first pages attached to lack luster queries that really grabbed my attention. But those are the exception and they only do so because they pop from page one. But usually, really good writers have the dedication to write stellar queries. (I have never requested more pages after a snarky query letter though. Humor is good. Snark and arrogance--NOPE!)
Make your query count. Because the query can affect an agents outlook on your story from the beginning. Its probably best to make that outlook positive rather than negative.