Uh, yeah. Fantastic.
Any of you who have ever employed unsolicited query letters in an effort to woo and wed an agent can imagine the shock waves: You settled down with an agent...and (several months later) you find yourself sending unsolicited query letters again.
But...what could I do? Nothing. Except get started.
On Monday and Tuesday, I sent out query letters.
By the end of the week, I had 10 requests for partials and fulls.
Those agents are reading right now, and more requests are coming in this week. More requests will come in next week. And the next week.
I am posting my query letter below.
Why? Because maybe you are querying right now. Or maybe you know someone who is querying right now.
We see a lot of thoughts from agents on what people do *wrong* when querying, but this post gives you some supplementary help. This is an example of one letter that worked well.
Here is the query letter in its original state.
The Great Lenore
On December 10, 2008, a plane flying from London to Boston crashed into the Atlantic, killing every person on board. Among those pronounced dead was Lenore Montana - a rapturous young woman who was traveling home to the husband she resented and the life she despised.
The news of Lenore's death shook her husband and his family about as deeply as any group of people can be shaken, and they retreated to their home on Nantucket Island where they all grieved together.
Four days after the crash, Lenore sneaked onto Nantucket Island also - very much alive.
She had left her flight just before it took off, and now she was dead on paper. And the world was open before her.
Freedom! A chance to start over.
Before Lenore could begin her new life, however, she wanted to attend her funeral.
She needed to see how her husband reacted to her death. She needed to see how the family reacted. She needed to see how the world...
Last summer, I loosened my grip on The Great Lenore and settled down with a wonderful, well-respected agent, and in my mind I saw the two of us sailing eternally on a ship called Success.
We spent some time revising The Great Lenore, and then we submitted to two editors: Sally Kim at HarperCollins, and Diana Szu at Thomas Dunne. Both editors expressed excitement over the concept and pleasure with the writing, but in the end neither of them "clicked" with the work.
Okay. That was fine! No big deal.
My agent and I took a long, hard look at the manuscript again, and this time we decided that the beginning of the story needed work. It needed that "immediate grab" it was lacking.
I spent several days immersed in the manuscript, and I resurfaced with the appropriate changes. Finally...finally, everything seemed right. Everything seemed perfect. We were ready to begin submitting again!
And then. My agent. Sort of disappeared.
Over the last six months I have ridden a wave of disjointed correspondence with her.
Yesterday morning (February 22), I talked to her at last.
She informed me that she is cutting back significantly on her agenting work. Her family recently moved, and her daughter has been ill, and she has decided to drop her new clients and to focus instead on her old clients and her family.
And so! - here I am again. Querying.
In one sense, this is difficult for me - after all, many writers consider representation to be something of a Holy Grail, and it feels odd to suddenly find myself, once more, amongst the unagented masses.
In a second, much heavier sense, I am thrilled to reenter this process! I am absolutely electrified at the prospect of discovering what a fresh set of eyes will find in The Great Lenore.
I believe that no one knows so much about writing that they can't learn more, and I am excited to uncover my new agent – to soar alongside the insights they pour into my work.
I am excited to learn more.
email: [email address]
phone: [phone number]
That's all! Be straightforward, avoid gimmicks, and - above all - write well. The interest will follow.
(Also, when querying, always conform to each agent's preferences. Some agents prefer the query letter only. Others prefer the first 3-5 pages along with the query. Some prefer more pages. Check before sending, otherwise it's a waste of their time and yours.)
(Later addition to this post: you can also find some agents' thoughts on things that make a query letter "right" - which, of course, can do nothing but help!)
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