jpsorrow asked writers to share their query letters today (September 12, which it already is on the east coast, anyway). Here’s one of mine.
I’m a published author seeking representation. My focus is on fantasy novels, and I’m interested in working with an agent not only on placing my current books, but also on long-term career planning.
I recently completed a 50,000 word young adult fantasy, Bones of Faerie, which is set in the aftermath of a deadly war between humanity and Faerie. Fifteen-year-old Liza knows that magic nearly destroyed her world during that war, so when her father says that those who bear magic must be cast out at all costs, she trusts and believes him–until she discovers signs of magic in herself.
I’ve previously published four middle grade novels: the Phantom Rider trilogy with Scholastic (by way of General Licensing Company), and Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer [this was later retitled Secret of the Three Treasures] with Holiday House (forthcoming in Spring 2006). I’ve also sold more than 30 short stories, including appearances in Cricket magazine, Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales, and A Glory of Unicorns, as well as on the sides of Story House’s coffee cans.
In addition to Bones of Faerie (which is currently under consideration at [Publisher]), I’m also marketing an early reader, [Title] (under consideration by [Editor at Publisher]); and a picture book, [Title] (under submission to [Publisher] and [Publisher]).
I’d love to send Bones of Faerie and samples of my other writing your way, and to find out whether we might be a good match for one another. Please let me know if you’d like me to do so.
Thanks for your consideration.
Janni Lee Simner
This is one of the few query letters I’ve written in which I actually included a brief description of the book I was submitting, mostly because I find such descriptions really hard to write and try to wriggle out of them any way I can. 🙂 In the past, many of my queries basically read, “I’ve written a fantasy [or adventure, or what-have-you] novel. Here are some of the books and stories I’ve published before. Can I send this one your way? Thanks.” To be fair, that mostly worked, too (the fact that I had previous sales helped there), though in retrospect I do think it’s better to include a brief description/hook, and would probably do so again in the future.
In an earlier version of this letter I pitched all three of the books I mention with equal weight. I think the letter was improved by focusing on one main project, though, while still mentioning the others.
I signed with my agent as a result of this query–or rather, as a result of the book, which the query introduced her to. I think–and others may have different takes on this–that the main thing a query does is show that you write coherently and well, while along the way maybe give the editor or agent a very first-order feel for your book, just enough for them to tell whether it’s potentially their sort of story. The book still has to sell itself though, in the end.
Other participating writers: