on the Small Press Center writing panel someone asked about a query letter & I instantly thought of Jennifer Weiner's excellent advice to writers. The whole thing is well worth checking out, but here's the relevant bit, in case someone looking for it comes this way first--in my memory, it actually had the whole of the "pitch" letter, but actually it's just this description:
Step four: I wrote a kick-ass cover letter. It began with a paragraph from the opening pages from GOOD IN BED, ending with the line where Cannie reads the phrase 'Loving a Larger Woman' and realizes, with a sinking heart and M&Ms stuck to her teeth, that the larger woman is her. It went on to say who I was, and what I'd done - that I'd published short stories in Seventeen and Redbook and written non-fiction pieces for Mademoiselle and Salon.com. It said that I was currently a staff writer at the Philadelphia Inquirer, that I'd finished my novel, and was seeking representation. I sent off about two dozen of these cover letters, sat back, and waited.
(Good In Bed is a great book, by the way. I enjoyed her subsequent two as well, but I think it's one of those cases where the first one was just really spectacular and the next couple are very good but without the special thing that made Cannie such an appealing character. My grandmother loved Good In Bed--I have been sending her books for the last couple of years since she got sort of bedbound and could no longer stagger to the public library, novel-reading runs in the female line of the family--I think it was her favorite new book she read in the last few years. She liked In Her Shoes as well, plus the extra point of interest that my brothers were working on the set for the movie...)