Many of you already know that agents ask for different things in a query letter. Some simply ask for the query letter, some ask for the query and the first five pages, while others ask for the query, a synopsis, and the first three chapters. But what they ALL ask for is a well-written blurb that describes your book. Nathan Bransford, a former literary agent, discusses one-sentence, one-paragraph, and two-paragraph pitches here.
As difficult as writing a good query letter is, I'm finding that telling people about my book is harder than writing about it. To the point where, when someone asks what my book is about, I say, "It's about mermaids." They usually return this indulgent looks that tells me I should have at least added an expletive or two to make it more interesting, since I didn't take the time to manipulate my plot into an informal blurb. But writers, you NEED this. You need to be able to tell people about it, to make a memorable impression for reasons other than awkwardness.
Complete strangers who hear you talking to your daughter about your book. Bookstore managers with whom you're trying to arrange an in-store signing. Friends and frenemies, acquaintances, relatives and twice-removed cousins. You need to be able to pique their interest verbally, and sound freaking cool while doing it. You can fling a bagillion marketing dollars at your book, but word of mouth will always be more effective in selling it than the prettiest internet ad.
It will take practive. It might take some wine. But get ready. You should be the best person to ask about your book. "It's about mermaids" = writer fail. So, by the end of the week, I hereby promise to have an interesting informal-sounding pitch, AND I promise to use it on at least 10 new people.
What about you? Are you ready to tell people about your book?