Not many of us love the query letter. But it is necessary to obtain representation and ultimately publication. I am not by any means an expert on the process but here are a few tips I especially love and would like to share.
Regarding your personal paragraph-Less is More:
1) Do not include that you have written since childhood. If you have never been published, no one cares.
2) Do not list contests that you have not won. It doesn't make you look good.
3) Do not get too personal. Again, no one cares how many cats you have.
4) Keep it short.
Regarding your story:
1) Tell who your MC is, and the conflict.
2) Remember to entice the reader to want more.
3) Keep it simple and to the point. Show, do not Tell.
Regarding who you send it to:
1) Personalize it.
2) Research the agent/editor/publisher.
3) Be careful sucking up. Some like it...others not so much. Keep it within reason.
I am a big fan of the compliments. I enjoy them, why shouldn't others? This is something I have to be careful not to go overboard with. It may not be a good idea to tell someone you don't know that you love them. They may see this as stalkerish. Also, do not threaten to keep sending your query until you wear them down. This does not work.
Remember the #1 rule is to seem as sane as possible..at least at first.
It worked for these guys.