I have so many friends who are talented writers. And some of those talented writer friends are beginning the daunting task of QUERYING.
(If you don’t know what querying is, this post probably isn’t for you, although you may want to bookmark it.)
Writing a query letter is so hard. You can find tips everywhere on how to do it, but still, it takes several drafts and hours of painstaking editing to get it just right.
So if it will help, I’ll post mine. I’ll also point out things I would have done differently now, as well as things that worked. And if you’ve read my book, then this should help you out a lot.
Oh, PS – this was an email query, which is why you don’t see any addresses at the top.
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Dear Ms. Ramirez,
After reading about Trident Media Group on www.agentquery.com, I would like to submit my 65,000 word novel, The Clearing, to your agency for consideration. As the first book in a three-book series, The Clearing is a young adult novel with a similar feel to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, but also with elements comparable to those in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.
Sixteen-year-old Natalie Watson’s world is turned upside down when her parents die in an apparent double suicide. With nowhere else to go, she moves from her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia, to the tiny town of Lubec, Maine, and enrolls in the boarding school run by her Aunt Tessa. From the first day, Natalie is bullied by a small group of students consisting of her pretentious roommate, Michelle, along with Michelle’s boyfriend and best girl friend. Still reeling from the tragedy she has suffered and lacking the energy to fight back, Natalie takes it all in stride and hopes for better days to come.
During the course of her first semester at Lubec Academy, Natalie becomes acquainted with two very different boys: Liam Abernathy, a strange, quiet type who’s rumored to be somehow responsible for his sister’s disappearance a year earlier; and Ethan Gillis, the popular school stud who dates Natalie’s roommate. In spite of her fear of Liam, Natalie becomes curious about his mysterious late-night excursions into the forest – and unwittingly finds herself at the center of a power struggle that occurred three hundred years earlier.
Meanwhile, Ethan struggles to cope with the loss of his mother, and turns to Natalie – the girl he tormented for months – for sympathy. While Natalie is consumed with the alternate world Liam is revealing to her, she is also drawn to Ethan’s charm and normalcy.
As she navigates the blurred line between the concrete and the supernatural, Natalie must decide which path to pursue: the comfortable one with Ethan, or the extraordinary – yet dangerous – path with Liam. Things become even more complicated when Natalie discovers that the parents she has mourned might be alive, after all.
I graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor’s degree in advertising and a second major in Spanish. While I have not had any previous work published, I have been writing stories and books since I was old enough to hold a pencil and have always dreamed of writing as a career. As a high school Spanish teacher, I am very familiar with my target market of teen girls and believe that I can write books they will love to read.
Thank you for your time in considering The Clearing. I am querying other agents, and I hope to hear from you soon.
Anne C. Riley
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Things I think I did well in this letter:
1) I think I did a good job of making the story sound intriguing. This is a hard thing to do in a few short paragraphs. If you’ve tried it, you know.
2) I like how I broke it up into lots of mini-paragraphs. Don’t forget: Agents read all day long. The kinder you are to their eyes, the better.
3) I like my little bio paragraph down there at the end.
4) I’m glad I remembered to tell her I was querying other agents (something you should do, by the way!)
5) Overall, I think the letter shows that I can write well. The tone is good, sentence structure is good, and there aren’t any typos.
Things I would do differently now:
1) IT KILLS ME THAT I COMPARED MY BOOK TO TWILIGHT. And Harry Potter. Really, Young Anne? REALLY?! Comparisons are good, but why the HECK did I pick those two? And Outlander isn’t even YA! Although it does have the time travel thing, so maybe. MAYBE. But Twilight and HP, no. I bet I was one of like 45 million wannabe authors that said MY BOOK IS LIKE TWILIGHT! Ugh. *shudders*
2) I wish I would have given her more about how the book ends. Listen, Grasshoppers: You are not supposed to do that. Be vague, I mean. It’s not supposed to be like the back of a book jacket. I should have revealed exactly how everything is resolved, where my twists were, etc. That was not a good move on Young Anne’s part.
(PS: If you’ve read The Clearing and you’re thinking, “What is she talking about? Natalie’s parents were never suspected to be alive!” Well, they were in an earlier version. In fact, in one version, Natalie and Liam found Natalie’s dad in Giles’ basement. BOOYAH. Your world is rocked.)
So that’s about it, friends. I hope that helps you. Happy querying, and don’t let those little rejection slips get you down… if you can help it.