So I took the advice, visited about 800 million blogs and websites, read sample queries and finally got my query in a shape that addressed all the advice. It was technically perfect. And about as lifeless as Al Bundy in the sack. I've succeeded in making my query un-unique, uninteresting and uncategorically rejectable. Essentially, I took all the "me" out of it.
Then I found a bunch of "real" sample queries on the 'net that were successful in getting representation, if not a book contract. And you know what? Not a ONE of them stuck to the "rules". Hell, most of them started with rhetorical questions! (And these queries were mostly posted on Agent blogs BY Agents as an example.) Pardon my french, but WTF!
Then I read a post by a guy on Miss Snark's blog. It basically said he went through the exact same thing. Then one night when he was loaded up on Bacardi and coke, he tapped out a new query and synopsis in a I-don't-give-a-youknowwhat style. In two weeks he had an agent and shortly after that he had a two-book contract. He went on to say he felt the reason was not that he was loaded, but that he was loaded enough to just use his natural VOICE, rules be damned.
And the scales fell from my eyes. THAT's what was missing from the technically perfect query I had Frankensteined up!
So at least now I know what I have to do, even if I don't know how to do it. And good thing, too. My wife has assured me that if I use the word "query" one more time and we're not in a gay bar, she's going to show me just how PERSONAL a rejection can be.