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I had a conversation with a friend the other day while going over his query letter. You see this friend has written over 400,000 words in the past 18 months and spent an amazing amount of time getting his opus down to 110,000 words–and tight words at that. When it came to the query letter, however, he was having trouble.

“Wots…uh the deal?” you say. (If you caught that obscure Pink Floyd reference, congrats.)

Well, the deal was that he told so much of his story in the query letter it sounded amazingly like a synopsis. I asked him to try to break it down for me in 30 seconds. Give me the pitch. Tell me why I really want to pick up this novel and give it a go, especially since this is a first novel.

After a moment of thought he said simply, “Underground grow facility.”

That sold it for me. Now I have no idea how exactly this underground grow facility is going to play in his novel, but already he has my interest. I asked him to continue and within 30 seconds, he’d hit the nail on the head, written a tight query letter and is scouting the market as we speak.

I bring this up because I freakin’ HATE query letters…until this author gave me the same test for Sketches from the Spanish Mustang. “Give me something that sells the story and work from there.”

Well, I won’t profess I have the answer yet or the perfect pitch, but I have a direction and that’s a start.

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Benjamin ran with scissors when he was five. He now writes. Follow him at or on Twitter @bxwretlind