The most important thing you will write is your endorsement on the back of a royalty check, but that is not a technique you have to master. You have probably envisioned it a hundred times.
Then what technique is important? Well, for starters, you have to master the technique of storytelling, but that does you no good if the editor doesn’t read beyond the first five pages. So you have to master the art of creating interest and interesting characters in your first pages, but a busy editor might not give you that much of her time if you haven’t hooked her in the initial paragraph. Mastering the art of the hook, then, is crucially important, but it is not the most important technique to master.
If you’ve read any books on how to get published, I’m sure you know by now where I’m headed. Not to the title, which is relatively unimportant; the publicity department will change it anyway. And not to the synopsis, though that is very important since it would be introducing your story.
All that’s left is the query letter, which is definitely the most important technique to master on your quest for publication. If you don’t create interest for your book in your letter, no one will read your synopsis, won’t read your initial paragraph, won’t read your first five pages, and won’t even look at the rest of your manuscript. And there will be no royalty check to sign.
Although I’d read over and over again about how important it was to master the art of writing a query letter, it didn’t strike home until several months ago when I was shredding all the rejection letters I’d received. I was feeling down, thinking my dream of getting published was never going to be realized, when it occurred to me that my manuscript had never been rejected. No one had even seen it. All that had been rejected was my query letter.
I can’t tell you how to write a winning query letter, because if I knew how, I would already be signing checks, but I do know there is only one way to master any technique. Practice. Practice. Practice.