When writing your query letter, summarize the first 50 pages of the book. This is enough to hook agents without giving too much away. (That’s what the synopsis is for.)
A stellar query will help you after representation, too. After you sign, your agent pitches your book to acquiring editors. Many agents use the original query as a baseline. Agent Kristin Nelson discusses Gail Carriger’s query and Kristin’s pitch for it.
No matter your word count, the first 50 pages includes:
- the hook
- inciting incident
- call & rejection of the call
- first plot point (start of the journey)
- sometimes, the first pinch point: the first mini-battle with the antagonist
A summary of this will give the setup and stakes: exactly what a query needs.
I haven’t yet attained Well of All Knowledge status, so I gleaned this rule of thumb from a critique partner. You know how I’m always telling you guys to get to CPs? Critique groups become a collective: what one person learns, the others learn.