Trends are popular in all things–fashion, food, books and even queries. The latest trend in queries does not seem to be a good one. Lately I’m reading more and more that just don’t thrill me. Queries from people who desperately need a query workshop or at least a query beta-reader or two.
One consistent problem is backstory. Backstory has little to no place in a query. When I read your query I need to know what this book is about. What’s the conflict, climax, action, hook (not necessarily all of those things), but I need to know the highpoint of your story. If I’m reading a query and it goes on and on through the life of the protagonist I wonder what the story is really about. Is it really about this protagonist’s entire childhood, marriage, and widowerhood? Or is the focus of the book actually about life after he’s widowed and the rest is just what makes him who he is?
When telling someone about The Hunger Games no one is interested how this Dystopian world was created or how Katniss came to be who she is. What they want to know is the key information that’s going to intrigue them, what is this book really about. Hunger Games is not about how Katniss learned to hunt in the wood or became friends with Gale, it is about a girl who is forced to fight in a battle to the death. In a nutshell. The query would need a little more.
Once again I will repeat myself, and maybe you should repeat after me, the query is how you’re going to describe your book to someone at a cocktail party. Drink in hand, less than three minutes on the clock, what is your book really about.