Non-fiction writers have their own set of unique challenges when coming up with a stellar book proposal, but when a fiction writer is faced with producing a query letter that will hook an agent or editor, it's enough to make them want to run up the white flag and emigrate to Samoa.
Though most of us writers understand the practical necessity of a query letter, its a bit like asking the guy who invented Godiva Chocolate Truffles to write a letter to the general public to convince people his chocolate is amazing.
Maybe it's just me, but I would think that giving out small samples of chocolate would hook more people than sending them a letter about it or paying for expensive advertising ever would. I mean, if he makes chocolate and that is what he does best, isn't that more of a realistic representation of the product itself than the letter praising it?
It is possible (and highly likely) that a novelist can write a great book but may not be great at selling it. It makes one wonder how many possible NY Times Bestsellers out there were/are turned down and never published due to the fact that the author was guilty only of concocting a lukewarm query letter. In spite of the fact that deep within most of us our subconscious ID rebels against the very idea of formulating a query letter, believe it or not, there are actually some good benefits that can come from creating one:
It could land you that super-fabulous literary agent.
Let's face it -- this is the entire end all, be all for creating a query letter so of course this one's gotta be listed at number one.
It can help you establish the book's genre.
It helps you decide which agents to query.
It helps you decide who are the protagonist(s) and the antagonist(s) in your story.
It helps you to see whether your novel is "done" or not.
It forces you to step back and look at your novel in an objective manner.
It improves your grammar skills.
It helps you develop the all-important elevator pitch.
It can help you make new friends.
It helps you build character.