I’d like to pretend that I read every query letter I get thoroughly. That would be a lie, though. I sift through queries pretty quickly, and that means that if my attention isn’t captured fast, I quit reading.
The point of this is that you need to get to the conflict as fast as possible. Don’t spend a paragraph setting up your world or your character. Because if there’s not a sense of conflict within the first two sentences, I’m probably going skim the rest of the letter and pass.
This sounds like easy advice to keep, but it’s one of the biggest problems I’ve been seeing lately in my inbox. So many author’s meander through their query letters. A query is not a leisurely stroll. It’s more of a sprint.
Here’s how you test yourself. Give somebody the first two sentences of your query to somebody and ask if they’re interested yet. If they’re not, you aren’t getting to the conflict fast enough.