Recently one of our agents received very high praise from an editor when she said, “submissions aren’t usually as great as the pitch, but in this case it was!” And that, dear reader, is querying in a nutshell.
When agents read queries we are looking for great pitches and when we are reading submissions we are hoping and praying that the book lives up to the pitch. That doesn’t mean writing a mediocre pitch is the better plan. Mediocre pitches won’t get requests. What it means, is that if most submissions don’t live up to the promise of the pitch then, in our experience, the pitches that don’t promise anything will likely lead to submissions that promise far less than we are looking to represent.
There truly is a method and experience to this querying madness.