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From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson

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From the Query to the Call by Elana Johnson Powered By Docstoc
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Logistics
  Copyright 2009 Elana Johnson. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be
  reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means, (electronic,
  photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of
  the author. (Please don’t share with your author friends! Recommend they
  purchase their own ebook.) No liability is assumed with respect to the use of
  the information contained within. Although every precaution has been taken,
  the author assumes no liability for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability
  assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained
  herein.

  Elana M. Johnson
  elanajohnson.com
  elanajohnson.blogspot.com




About This Book
  I wrote this book because I think every writer needs a guide for every step of
  the way from the time they finish a novel to landing a literary agent.

  This book is not about writing said novel. I’m assuming you have that step
  done. Edited, revised, critiqued by trusted readers. No, this book is about what
  to do after you’ve written the novel—because sometimes the task of writing a
  query letter and querying literary agents can seem twice as daunting as
  actually writing a book!

  So roll up your sleeves. I already know you’re a hard worker if you’ve written a
  novel. Now let the real fun begin—finding a literary agent.




Watch for This!

       Watch for this symbol through the book. It indicates
       important tips, links or things to remember.


  So let’s get started!



                                                                                   2
Table of Contents
  Logistics.................................................................................................. 2
  About This Book ...................................................................................... 2
  Watch for This! ........................................................................................ 2
  Table of Contents .................................................................................... 3
  What Queries Are..................................................................................... 4
  What Queries Are Not .............................................................................. 5
  Why You Need A Query ............................................................................ 6
  Writing a Killer Query.............................................................................. 7
    The Hook .............................................................................................................................. 8
    The Setup ........................................................................................................................... 10
    The Conflict ........................................................................................................................ 13
    The Consequence .............................................................................................................. 17
    Everything Else.................................................................................................................. 21
  Entering the Query Trenches ................................................................. 24
    Researching Agents........................................................................................................... 25
    Sending Your Killer Query................................................................................................ 29
    Responding to Requests (or Rejections).......................................................................... 30
    Cover Letters ...................................................................................................................... 34
    Enduring Enjoying the Wait............................................................................................. 36
    Revising for an Agent ........................................................................................................ 38
    Fielding “The Call”............................................................................................................. 40
  Query Samples....................................................................................... 50
  We’ve Reached The End......................................................................... 62
  Works Cited ........................................................................................... 63




                                                                                                                                        3
What Queries Are
  Query Letter [kweer-ee let-er]: an inquiry from a writer to an editor [or agent]
  of a magazine, newspaper, etc., regarding the acceptability of or interest
  in an idea for an article, news story, or the like: usually presented in the
  form of a letter that outlines or describes the projected piece.

  Your query letter should do three things:
  1. Tell about your project (novel, short story, article, etc.)
  2. Tell about you
  3. Capture your audience enough to request more

  How to write a killer query letter that will do these three things is discussed in
  Section Two: Writing a Killer Query.


                         A FEW THINGS TO REMEMBER:
             A query letter is the first impression an agent has of you.
              And we all know you don’t get a second chance to make a
              first impression.

             A query letter is correspondence with an industry
              professional. Treat it as such.

             A query letter is not hammered out in a few minutes.




                                                                                   4
What Queries Are Not
  Sometimes it’s helpful to see what not to include in a query letter or to think
  about what a query letter should not do.

  For example, a query letter is not your life story. It’s not how many kids you
  have, the names of your pets, or if you’ve written seventeen (as of yet)
  unpublished novels. It’s not the place to tell the agent how much your mom
  loved your book. Query letters should not be sent with bribes or obvious
  kissing up.




                                                                                    5
Why You Need A Query
  It’s simple. You need one because that’s how agents and editors find new
  talent. There’s really no reason to be upset that “the system” doesn’t work.
  Perhaps your time would be better spent learning all you can, improving your
  craft as much as possible, and learning to work within “the system” no matter
  how broken you think it is.

  You need a query letter because it’s what agents and editors will read, and
  hopefully by the time you’ve read this e-book and crafted your query letter,
  those agents and/or editors will be asking to see more.

  That is the goal, after all. I like to think of the query letter as the gateway into
  the publishing world. You can’t get an agent to read your whole book unless
  you have a killer query. So let’s get started!




                                                                                     6
Writing a Killer Query
  This section has six parts, outlining the separate parts that I believe make up a
  killer query. Print out the examples in the Query Samples section of this book.
  Make notes. Think and think and then think some more about your novel.

  When I sat down to write my query, I had about seven successful examples of
  query letters spread out on my counter. I made notes on what the first line
  was. The second. How many paragraphs. I had them in digital format and I put
  the word count at the top of the printed copy. I looked at the last paragraph,
  how the letter ended, all of it.

  Then I wrote my letter by hand, incorporating the common themes I found in
  the successful query letters. I have achieved good success with my query letters
  (30-35% request rate) and I believe that you can too.


      Note: Query letters should be written in the tone of your novel. Keep that
      in mind as you go through this studying process. Just
      because a successful query is over-the-top funny doesn’t
      mean yours will be — unless you’ve also written a comedy.
      Remember this, but the query-writing formula doesn’t change
      because of it.




                                                                                7
The Hook
There’s been some debate about whether or not you need a hook. I’m just going
to get this out of the way—I believe you do.

And believe it or not, you probably have the beginnings (if not more) of a hook
already. You just don’t know it.

Your hook should:
1. Sum up the novel in one sentence
2. Propel the reader to read the whole letter with interest

Notice I didn’t say it has to make me gasp. Nor do it have to be snarky, snappy
or in your face (unless, of course, that’s the tone of your novel). All it needs to
do is sum up your novel and make me want to read on. That’s it.

Let’s explore some examples.

Examples:
1. “In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not
meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Vivian Schoenfeld does a hell of a job
shattering them to pieces.” (29 words)

2. “Sixteen-year-old Annie Jenkins must control the magic to balance the
realm—it's too bad her unknown abilities are hidden beneath her inhalant
addiction.” (23 words)

3. “Sixteen-year-old Penelopie Baker has died 67 times, and it’s about to
happen again.” (13 words)

4. “When a girl looks into a boy's eyes, she hopes to see his soul, but when
sixteen year old Emerson Taylor kisses a boy's lips, she also sees his past.” (30
words)
      ~courtesy of Katie Anderson

5. “Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails.” (10 words)
      ~courtesy of Lisa and Laura Roecker

These examples accomplish both items above with ease. You can get a general
idea about each novel from the single sentence. I included the word counts of
each sentence, just so you can get a general feel for how long they are. There
are no hard and fast rules about this, but I recommend a sentence of no longer
than 40 words. That’s a pretty long sentence.


                                                                                 8
Basically, you want your hook to be the answer to the question: “What is your
book about?”

You should have seen my panic face the first time I was asked that. I was like,
“Well, it’s about this magician guy, and he well, he’s immortal, and he hates it,
and there’s this girl and she can turn him back into a mortal. Or something.”

By the end, people were more confused than satisfied. And these were people
that liked me, were interested in the book enough to ask about it, and I
couldn’t even answer their simple question.

That’s what your hook needs to do. Answer the question: What is your
book about?

Look at the examples again. Do you want to read more? Depending on the
genre you enjoy, perhaps. There is an entire section devoted to researching
agents, so if you’ve done your homework, you’ll be sending your query to those
who are interested in your genre. You want the reader to need to read on. Not
want, need.

In fact, that first sentence should not only sum up the book, it should
springboard the reader through the rest of the letter.


                         FINAL WORDS ON HOOKS:
          Your hook should not be a question
          Grab, entice, get out = one sentence
          Mimic the tone of your novel


Ready to start crafting your hook? Click here for a group of worksheets you can
print and use.




                                                                               9
The Setup
Once you've hooked the agent to read your whole query letter, you've got to
deliver. You can't just have a hook and then let everything else slide. Following
the hook, you need to get to the problem. This requires a little bit of setup. You
may have noticed in some of the example hooks, the age of the protagonist was
included. Of course you should specify the genre, but the agent knows right
away which age group you’re writing for when you include the age in the hook.
Little details like that contribute to the setup in your query.

In the setup, you have a few goals:
1. Provide a few details about who your main character is. You've hooked the
agent to find out more about your main character, so give them what they
want.

2. World-building information if pertinent. For fantasy and science fiction, a
little taste of the world would go in the setup section of the query. For mystery,
horror, thriller or other genres, including the setting here wouldn't be a bad
idea.

3. The catalyst that moves the main character into the conflict.

In each of the examples below (which are numbered to go with their hooks from
the first part of this section), I’m going to expound on what each sentence
brings to the table as far as setup. The same as in writing, what you include in
the letter should have a purpose for being there.

Examples:
1. “After committing her eighth lame ass crime (walking in the park after dark
with a boy, gasp!), (details = Vi dislikes Rules and breaks them, world
building = the Rules are lame) Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers
who control the Goodgrounds. (world-building) She’s found unrehabilitatable
(yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) (details = Vi is snarky) and exiled to
the Badlands. (world-building = exiled to another land) Good thing sexy Bad
boy Jag Barque will be going too. (catalyst to the conflict = exiled to the
Badlands with a Bad boy)” [3 sentences, 58 words, read hook]




                                                                                10
2. “Whenever she's high, Annie has vivid visions of a death she can't remember
and a guy she's never met. (details) When she meets Jonathan Clarke, the
ghostly boy from her hallucinations, she realizes her drug use has masked the
abilities she's inherited from her magic-keeping mother. (Details = Annie
inherits magic. World-building = magic-keeping mother) Wielding magic
isn't everything it's cracked up to be; Annie discovers her newfound powers
can't cure her terminally ill mother. (More details = Annie's mom is sick.
World-building = magic can't fix everything. Catalyst to the conflict =
magic can't fix everything, Annie's powers are new and she can't do what
she wants with them.) [3 sentences, 65 words, read hook]

3. “She can feel death approaching like you can feel rain falling on your skin.
(details + world-building = Penny feels death) Penny thinks the 68th death
will get her one step closer to being able to reclaim her lost life, but she’s dead
(lol) wrong. (details = Penny’s lost life, catalyst to conflict = her death
won’t help her reclaim her lost life) Because the death she feels is not her
own, but that of a friend. (catalyst to conflict = death of a friend)” [3
sentences, 52 words, read hook]

4. “Emerson Taylor is sixteen and a kissing virgin, much to her complete and
utter horror (details = Emerson hasn’t kissed a boy) - until one day when she
and some friends play an innocent game of Spin the Bottle. While her first kiss
is brief and nothing special, what she discovers shortly afterward is definitely
special.

When Emerson kisses a boy, she can see his past. (details + world-building =
she can see the past with a kiss) And it doesn't take her long to figure out
how to kiss and steal test answers, gossip and secrets... (world-building) But
the kiss that will rock her world is the kiss she carefully plans after her BFF
disappears without a trace. (catalyst to conflict = her BFF is gone and she’s
going to use her “kissing power” to find her) ” [5 sentences, 99 words, read
hook]

5. “Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was
before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox: (details = who the
dead girl is)

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you. (details = find Christian, dead girl might not be dead)
Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.


                                                                                  11
But Kate isn’t most girls. (catalyst to conflict = what is Kate like? What will
Kate do?)

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. (catalyst to
conflict = she’s going to solve the case) Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her
skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl
fight, but you get the idea. (details = Kate is made of spunk)” [93 words,
read hook]


All of these examples drive the reader toward the conflict. That's what you want
your setup section of the query letter to do. Don't bog us down in too many
details. Don't introduce your entire cast of secondary characters. Don't try to
impress with single sentences that are 65 words long or the cool names of your
universe far, far away. Just lay it out. Remember, you want to get to the
conflict.

Think of the setup as a bridge from the sharp hook to the cliffhanger conflict.
And no one wants to spend time on the bridge.




                       FINAL WORDS ON THE SETUP:
          Stick with the main character, introducing a
           secondary character if necessary.
          Get there quick = 3-5 sentences / 75 – 100 words
          Give only the important details that build
           character or setting



Ready to start crafting your setup? Click here for a group of worksheets you
can print and use.




                                                                                  12
The Conflict
So you've hooked and setup your query letter. Now to the part that everyone
wants to read—the conflict. Every novel needs it. In fact, the more conflict, the
better. In the query letter, you want to highlight the main conflict, not every
single one in every single chapter. You can't even do that in the synopsis, so
don't try.

Main conflict [meyn kon-flikt]: The central thing that prevents the character
from getting what they want.

If you didn't setup what the character wants in the setup, you can do it
during the conflict.

In the examples section, I’ve included the hook and the setup so you don’t have
to go back and find them.

Examples:
1. Hook: In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not
meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job
shattering them to pieces.

Setup: After committing her eighth lame ass crime (walking in the park after
dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control
the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a
word either) and exiled to the Badlands. Good thing sexy Bad boy Jag Barque
will be going too.

Conflict: Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father
issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a
possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. (she’s got problems. Lots
of them.) Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she
realizes. (Whoa. She’s important? How so?)

Vi’s main conflict is that she doesn’t know who and/or what she is. How
important she is. But everyone else does. And it’s not something she’s going to
like…. This is all established in a mere 42 words.




                                                                                13
2. Hook: Sixteen-year-old Annie Jenkins must control the magic to balance the
realm—it's too bad her unknown abilities are hidden beneath her inhalant
addiction.

Setup: Whenever she's high, Annie has vivid visions of a death she can't
remember and a boy she's never met. When she meets Jonathan Clarke, the
ghostly boy from her hallucinations, she realizes her drug use has masked the
abilities she's inherited from her magic-keeping mother. Wielding magic isn't
everything it's cracked up to be; Annie discovers her newfound powers can't cure
her terminally ill mother.

Conflict: Annie learns she has the rare power to bring immortal beings
(Shadows) living in another realm back into the human world. Jon has been
searching for someone with Annie’s Mirror power for a century. (Both of these
sentences are still setting up the conflict.) He's desperate for her to restart
his heart so he can become human again, but his Reflection can't be completed
until she balances the magic. (Jon wants to be human, but…) Their problems
double when she learns there are evil Shadows who plan to kill her and take
control of the realm. (Oh, crap.) One of Jon's old friends is leading the
resistance and attempts to recruit him, while Annie discovers one of her friends
is really working against her. (What? A friend that's really an enemy? That
can't be good…)

I've actually included a sentence for Jon, one for Annie, and one for both of
them. Jon's main conflict is that he wants a beating heart, and he can't get it
until Annie balances the magic in his realm. Annie's main conflict is that she
could die at the hands of any Shadow (including Jon's) at any time—oh, and
don't forget about balancing the magic. Their main conflict together is they
both have friends who aren't really their friends—and who would do anything
to destroy them. No biggie, right? It took me 106 words to explain the conflict.
Five sentences (and two of those were still setup).




Think you know what your main conflict is? Can you sum it up
in a few sentences? Click here for a group of worksheets you
can print and use.




                                                                                14
3. Hook: Sixteen-year-old Penelopie Baker has died 67 times, and it’s about to
happen again.

Setup: She can feel death approaching like you can feel rain falling on your skin.
Penny thinks the 68th death will get her one step closer to being able to reclaim
her lost life, but she’s dead (lol) wrong.

Because the death she feels is not her own, but that of a friend.

Conflict: Everyone thinks the drowning was an accident until another
classmate croaks under mysterious conditions. (oooh, double murder. Nice—
or not.) In order to get her years of service counted for this 68th life, Penelopie,
along with her Servant partner, Blake, (this is a little bit of world-building)
set out to find the true cause for two suspicious teenage deaths so close to
home. (So Servant detectives….)

In this story, the conflict is solving the murders. That’s probably a lot of
conflict, but you don’t need to expound on it tons. The novel has more than
just a murder mystery—the protag has died 67 times, and she’s “Serving” a
sentence so she can hopefully reclaim her own lost life. All of this drives the
conflict in 51 words.


4. Hook: When a girl looks into a boy's eyes, she hopes to see his soul, but when
sixteen year old Emerson Taylor kisses a boy's lips, she also sees his past.

Setup: Emerson Taylor is sixteen and a kissing virgin, much to her complete and
utter horror - until one day when she and some friends play an innocent game of
Spin the Bottle. While her first kiss is brief and nothing special, what she
discovers shortly afterward is definitely special.

When Emerson kisses a boy, she can see his past. And it doesn't take her long
to figure out how to kiss and steal test answers, gossip and secrets... But the
kiss that will rock her world is the kiss she carefully plans after her BFF
disappears without a trace.

Conflict: For this kiss, she will have to seduce her beffie's creepy boyfriend,
(good conflict) make him fall for her (even better) and then make-out with
him, (oh gross!) all while evading her own boyfriend (wow, lots and lots of
conflict).

There is conflict here—spades of it—all in 28 words. You’ll notice that this
example has a much longer setup section than conflict. That’s okay. Every
query is different. Remember to be succinct and specific and you’ll be fine.




                                                                                  15
5. Hook: Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails.

Setup: Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was
before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox:

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s
pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite
teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

Conflict: The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a
dangerous turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother,
almost gets her killed. (a near death = good conflict) Good thing she finds a
couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her
awkward neighbor, Seth. Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation
continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school
that threatens to destroy them all. (oooh, a secret at a private school, a sexy
bad boy and a geeky neighbor. All ingredients for a great conflict soup.)

In these 72 words, we get all the makings of a good conflict: A near death
experience, secrets, betrayal, and a couple of interesting sidekicks.

                     FINAL WORDS ON THE CONFLICT:

    Find the main conflict and highlight that. Trust me, your query will
     thank you. Agents will thank you. Readers who read the blurb on the
     back of your book will thank you.
    No novel is complete without conflict. Be sure you identify what the
     character wants (to find a missing best friend, solve a murder, get a
     beating heart) and then state what’s keeping them from getting it.
    Don’t drag it out. You get one page, and you’ve used up half of that
     already with the hook and setup. The bulk of your remaining words
     should be conflict, 50 – 100 words.



                                                                                 16
The Consequence
The final element you need in your query letter is the consequence. What will
happen if the MC doesn't solve the problem? Doesn't get what they want? Will
evil forces achieve world domination? Will her brother die? Is it a race against
time across Antarctica to find the long lost jewel of the Nile? What's the
consequence?

In the queries I've read, this is what's lacking the most. The consequence.
You've hooked me, set me up, explained the conflict that's keeping me from
getting what I want, but…what will happen if I don't solve the conflict? That's
the consequence. If you're having trouble identifying yours, it's time to go back
to the revising stage—in the novel.

Let's examine the blurbs in full:

1. In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant
to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering
them to pieces.

After committing her eighth lame ass crime (walking in the park after dark with a
boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the
Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word
either) and exiled to the Badlands. Good thing sexy Bad boy Jag Barque will be
going too.

Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and
coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new
one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s
more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and
not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be
controlled.

Oooh, what will it be? You’ll have to read to find out….

2. Sixteen-year-old Annie Jenkins must control the magic to balance the realm—
it's too bad her unknown abilities are hidden beneath her inhalant addiction.

Whenever she's high, Annie has vivid visions of a death she can't remember and
a boy she's never met. When she meets Jonathan Clarke, the ghostly boy from
her hallucinations, she realizes her drug use has masked the abilities she's
inherited from her magic-keeping mother. Wielding magic isn't everything it's
cracked up to be; Annie discovers her newfound powers can't cure her terminally
ill mother.


                                                                               17
Annie learns she has the rare power to bring immortal beings (Shadows) living in
another realm back into the human world. Jon has been searching for someone
with Annie’s Mirror power for a century. He's desperate for her to restart his
heart so he can become human again, but his Reflection can't be completed until
she balances the magic.

Their problems double when she learns there are evil Shadows who plan to kill
her and take control of the realm. One of Jon's old friends is leading the
resistance and attempts to recruit him, while Annie discovers one of her friends
is really working against her. If Jon and Annie can't find a way to achieve
balance, Reflections and potions won't do any good. There is no spell to
revive the dead.

That last sentence is the consequence. You need one to complete the query
letter. It should be just as "hooky" as the hook to leave the reader (AKA: agent)
salivating to request the full. Most consequence “hooks” tie back to the
beginning hook too, for a satisfying circuit in the letter.

3. Sixteen-year-old Penelopie Baker has died 67 times, and it’s about to happen
again. She can feel death approaching like you can feel rain falling on your skin.
Penny thinks the 68th death will get her one step closer to being able to reclaim
her lost life, but she’s dead (lol) wrong.

Because the death she feels is not her own, but that of a friend. Everyone thinks
the drowning was an accident until another classmate croaks under mysterious
conditions. In order to get her years of service counted for this 68th life, Penelopie,
along with her Servant partner, Blake Zuckermann, set out to find the true cause
for two suspicious teenage deaths so close to home.

What they find makes all the bloody deaths they’ve experienced seem like
pinpricks.

Well, these people—and I use that term loosely—have died 67 times. Some
pretty bloody deaths too, so I can’t wait to find out what they find to make that
look like nothing!

4. When a girl looks into a boy's eyes, she hopes to see his soul, but when
sixteen year old Emerson Taylor kisses a boy's lips, she also sees his past.

Emerson Taylor is sixteen and a kissing virgin, much to her complete and utter
horror - until one day when she and some friends play an innocent game of Spin
the Bottle. While her first kiss is brief and nothing special, what she discovers
shortly afterward is definitely special.

When Emerson kisses a boy, she can see his past. And it doesn't take her long
to figure out how to kiss and steal test answers, gossip and secrets... But the
kiss that will rock her world is the kiss she carefully plans after her BFF

                                                                                    18
disappears without a trace.

For this kiss, she will have to seduce her beffie's creepy boyfriend, make him fall
for her and then make-out with him, all while evading her own boyfriend – and
what she sees in that one kiss will change everything!

The reader will want—no, need—to know what she sees in that one kiss. And
that’s the perfect place to leave the query letter.


5. Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the
anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message
from Grace appeared in her inbox:

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s
pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite
teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous
turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother, almost gets
her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in
sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth. Armed with her newfound
sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of
their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.

Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to
trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

With everyone a suspect, you’d definitely have to read the full to find out what’s
going to happen.



                                                                                 19
Your job: Separate your consequence from the rest of your query letter. Is it
concise? Do you even have one? If not, this is a novel problem, not a query
letter problem. Is it a cliffhanger? Enough to entice the reader to want to read
the entire book? If not, make it so—both in the novel and in the query.

Test Yourself:
Take the first sentence of your query blurb and copy it into a new document.
Now copy and paste your last sentence (your consequence sentence) right
behind it. Is that your book? It should be—in a nutshell.

Here’s mine:
In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to
be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them
to pieces. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the
fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

I had three full requests with just those two sentences. It really does sum up
my entire book, all in 2 sentences, 51 words. Try it!

                    FINAL WORDS ON THE CONSEQUENCE:

     Leave the reader on a “cliffhanger”—needing to read
      more to find out what happens next
     Avoid using a question as the consequence
     Bring the query full-circle, tying your beginning hook to
      your cliffhanger consequence




                                                                                 20
Everything Else
The hook, the setup, the conflict, and the consequence are the four parts of the
query letter. I believe you can write a killer query using those elements.

I studied my query and decided it could be better. Since the query letter is the
gateway to getting your manuscript read, I wanted to have the shiniest gate I
could.

This didn't just happen. I worked—hard. I broke my query letter down into the
four parts and worked on them individually. Then I studied the query letters of
others. I printed out the query letters of authors who had landed agents. I
emailed friends who I knew had received significant requests and begged them
to let me see their queries. Then I sat down at the kitchen counter and spread
the queries out on the counter. I started at the top, took notes, and wrote my
query by hand. This didn't just "happen." I made it happen. You can too.

Besides the query blurb, you’ve got the outlying paragraphs: Bio, introduction,
conclusion, and publishing credentials.

Introduction. Some agents say to dive right into the book. Some want the
genre and word count up front. Do your research and switch the parts around
according to the agent's tastes. But generally, I like to start my query with the
title (in all caps) and word count with a lead into my hook.

I am pleased to submit for your consideration my young adult urban fantasy,
THE MIRROR. In this 95,000-word tale of magic, mystery and romance,
sixteen-year-old Annie Jenkins must control the magic to balance the realm.
It's too bad her unknown abilities are hidden beneath her inhalant addiction.

Or if I’ve been able to find an interview and the agent has said something that
matches my novel, I start like this:

I recently read an interview (given to Joanne on the Whole Latte Life blog)
where you said you were looking for young adult novels with a great voice.
Because of this, I believe you would be interested in my YA dystopian novel,
CONTROL ISSUES.

If you don’t like either one of those, simply start with the hook:

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant
to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering
them to pieces.



                                                                                21
Marketing. I noticed that almost all of the query letters had some sort of
paragraph after the blurb that told a little more about their book. Marketing, a
twist on something, a comparison to published books. Something. So I crafted
one of those for my novel.

Not just another ghost story, the Shadows in THE MIRROR bring a magical
twist to life beyond death. THE MIRROR will appeal to readers who enjoy the
paranormality of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, and also to those who fell in
love with the romance of TWILIGHT.

Tip: When using another title, make it all caps, but a smaller font—usually two
points smaller.

Here’s another example:

A dystopian novel for young adults, CONTROL ISSUES is complete at 84,000
words. Fans of Scott Westerfeld’s UGLIES series and Suzanne Collins’ THE
HUNGER GAMES will enjoy similar elements, and a strong teen voice.

This one has the name of the novel and the word count. In the first example,
that information was given in the introduction paragraph. It’s completely
acceptable to move the parts around, as long as all the information is included.

Note: If you haven’t actually read the books you’re comparing your novel with,
don’t use them. You really have no idea if they’ll be the same unless you’ve
actually read the book.


Check out the examples included at the end of
this e-book for complete samples of the query
letters discussed in this section.




                                                                              22
Biography. You don’t need to go into your five-generation family history
here. Give yourself one sentence to tell a bit about yourself.

Here’s mine: I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing
author to the QueryTracker Blog by night.

Katie Anderson: I live in City, State and am a member of the SCBWI with a
background in marketing and advertising.

Lisa and Laura Roecker: We are sisters-turned-writing-partners.

Short and sweet and gives a little detail. That’s it. I recently did a post on The
Author Bio on the QueryTracker.net blog. Check it out!


Publishing Credentials. Many authors agonize over this. If you don’t
have publishing credits, simply omit this portion of the query. Many agents
advise the same thing.

If you do have publishing creds, make sure you list the title, the magazine and
issue date, or the publisher and date it was published. Agents want to know.
They’ll check.


Conclusion. Then you need to wrap it up with a simple, "If you would like
to consider THE MIRROR, I'd be happy to forward the complete manuscript at
your request.”

And end with, "Thank you for your time and consideration."

                            INCLUDE THESE THINGS:

       Full name
       Address
       Phone number
       Blog and/or website (if you have one)



Remember that you can see full samples of queries at the end of this e-book.
So are you ready? Onto the query trenches we go!




                                                                                 23
Entering the Query Trenches
  Once you’ve studied and written your query letter, you might consider posting
  it for further critique online. There are some very helpful forums offering this
  kind of service. Just like it’s ideal to have a critique partner or group to read
  your novel, your letter can be improved by having fresh eyes.

  Online Query Helps:
           Querytracker Forum
           Agent Query Connect
           Absolute Write Water Cooler
           The Public Query Slushpile Blog
           Query Shark Blog
           Rally Storm Query Critique Forum


  This goes without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. It won’t matter how
  stellar your query letter is if your novel is not ready to send out. All steps
  (studying, improving your craft, critiquing) you completed for writing your
  query should be done for your novel as well. It doesn’t make sense to query
  something that isn’t ready.

  Armed with an edited novel and a killer query, you’re ready to enter the query
  trenches—almost. There are a few more items to discuss before you actually
  adhere that stamp or press send in your email. Once you’ve done that though,
  it’s all downhill from there. Sort of.

  This section will discuss:
  1.   Researching Agents
  2.   Sending Your Killer Query
  3.   Responding to Requests (or Rejections)
  4.   Cover Letters
  5.   Enduring Enjoying the Wait
  6.   Revising for an Agent
  7.   Fielding “The Call”




                                                                                   24
Researching Agents
You want to get your query (and ultimately your novel) in the hands of someone
who can sell it. For most people, that’s a literary agent. There are literally
hundreds and hundreds of agents, but that doesn’t mean that you should
blanket query all of them in one marathon sitting. Quite the opposite, in fact.


I think you should stick to these three areas when preparing your agent
list.
          Genre
          Reputation and Sales
          Online presence



Let’s explore each area separately.

Genre
It doesn’t make any sense to query an agent who doesn’t represent your genre.
The reason they represent specific genres and not others is varied, but I believe
it has to do with two things. 1) What the agent likes to read and 2) Who the
agent’s editorial contacts are.

If Agent X doesn’t know anyone in the children’s industry, it will be harder for
them to sell a children’s book. Likewise with genre fiction like science fiction,
fantasy, horror, thriller or anything else.

Make sure you have a solid definition of where your book fits in the genre
world. Author Michelle McLean wrote an excellent blog post about defining
your genre. In that post, she recommends limiting your genre to 2, maybe 3
categories, something I echo loudly.

Basically you need to ask yourself: Which bookshelf would this be on
at Barnes & Noble?

The agent will need to know that too. And the editor. You should know before
any of them. Now, things may change as the publication process continues, but
you want to show the agent that you’re knowledgeable about the publishing
industry and have a solid idea of where your book fits.




                                                                                25
Reputation and Sales
Legitimate agents are in this business to sell books. They have sales records.
You should be sure to research all agents to make sure they are indeed doing
what they say—selling their clients’ novels.

Preditors and Editors is an excellent website where you can see if agents have
made recent sales and are legit. P&E has rating criteria that you can explore
and make decisions on whether or not you’ll add a particular agent to your
querying list.

Agents are not required to list their sales, but a subscription to Publisher’s
Marketplace wouldn’t be a bad thing. There you can see the sales of agents.
Agent Query also lists recent sales as reported by the agent. Querytracker.net’s
own members report on their experiences with individual agents. If an agent
has just sold something similar to your novel, it would probably be a good idea
to add them to your list. Their success equals your success.

Visiting all of these sites, reading and learning as much as you can about an
agent before deciding to query them is a huge benefit. Don’t skip this step and
include everyone. Be selective. Choose wisely. Research.

Online Presence
With the explosion of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, and
Twitter, you can virtually find literary agents everywhere. Take the time to
“lurk” and gather information. You won’t be sorry.

The information you learn on these sites tends to be more personal. This can
be helpful in deciding if you would be a good match in a client-agent
relationship. Searching for an agent is a lot like dating. You need someone who
sees the best in you and is willing to work with you through thick and thin.

More traditional, but just as useful, online resources include blogs and agency
websites. These places are generally the most current source for submission
guidelines, what the agent is looking for and agency news. Read them, and
then read them again.

Another thing I recommend: search for interviews each individual agent has
given. Many times the interviewer will ask the agent what they’re looking for.
Then you’ve got your lead in sentence and you’re showing the agent that you’ve
done your homework on them. They like that, because then they know you
didn’t just pick them randomly from a list.

Just because an agent doesn’t have an online presence doesn’t mean they’re
not reputable, successful or worthy. You’ll have to decide if you prefer an agent
with a heavy online presence or not.



                                                                               26
Author Beth Revis uses her Google Reader to easily organize blog posts and
websites that mention a targeted agent.

Organizing Submissions by Beth Revis
I first started getting serious (i.e. writing chapters instead of notes) on my
current work in January of this year. Now, I know that I'm not good at keep
records straight, but I also know that when I'd get to the point where querying
got serious, I'd need more than the standard submissions guidelines.

I subscribe to a lot of publishing blogs and websites, and I read them using my
Google Reader. Whenever I got to an article where someone interviewed an
agent I had my eye on, I'd just "star" it. Starring an article keeps it in a special
file in the Google Reader--easily accessible, but not in the way.

Since January, I've amassed close to a hundred articles. Not all of them are
specifically agent related--quite a few were writing tips, general information,
etc.

But when it got time for me to query, I turned to my starred folder first.
Scrolling through those posts gave me a quick starting point. I was able to scan
them, find the information quickly, and use those interviews and "looking for"
posts to rank agents. I also noticed patterns. I'd starred five different articles on
one agent. I never would have noticed it before--in fact, it was an agent I had
not heard much of, depsite the fact she's at a reputable agency. However, by
going through the articles I've been amassing for nearly 8 months, and seeing
five about her, made me quickly move this agent to the top of my list of agents
to query.

In addition to using the articles to rank agents by who I most want to query
and who is most actively looking for what I've got to offer, I was also able to
pick up some great details that I plan on using in my query. This is going to
make personalization so so SO much simpler. Pull quotes from interviews
where the agent specifically stated a book she represented or an idea he'd like
to see in print will really help my query stand out from the pack.

Is this the best way to do it? All I can say is, it was incredibly simple for me to
just star articles in my reader that mentioned agents and what they
wanted/repped. I know I wouldn't have kept track of it if it weren't so simple--
in the past, I'd just scour the internet once I was ready to query, not keep
vague track of info before querying. It took me a solid two or so hours to skim
through all the starred articles I had to pick out the ones best suited for my
work, but now, at the end of it, I've got a list of over 40 agents, with specific
links to what they want, and a clear idea of who I think would be best for my
work. This is something that would have taken me several days, not several
hours, in the past.

Courtesy of Beth Revis (Website, Blog)

                                                                                  27
         NEED HELP GETTING YOUR LIST READY?
             CHECK OUT THESE WEBSITES:
 Querytracker.net– lists over 1200 agents with links to their websites,
  blogs, Publisher’s Marketplace, Preditors & Editors, AgentQuery, and
  Internet search engines. Includes user comments, genres represented,
  and is free to join.
 Agent Query– searchable database of agents with agent
  websites, emails and links to Publisher’s Marketplace.
  This site also includes genres and submission
  guidelines.
 Don’t know what a Google Reader is? Check out this post
  done on the QueryTracker blog by H.L. Dyer. You need to be
  using a Google Reader. Just ask Beth!




                                                                     28
Sending Your Killer Query
Now that you’ve got a well-researched list of agents you want to query, all you
need to do is send that bad boy out! This can cause quite the tremor of
trepidation to flow through some people. Don’t let that happen to you. After all,
agents are in the business of selling books. You want to sell a book. It’s a
match made in heaven, right?

Hopefully.

The point is, though, that agents are people too. They are not gods—although
they can get your manuscript places you can’t. Be professional with them.
Follow guidelines. Be polite. But don’t grovel.

Getting Ready to Send Your Killer Query:
        Get a respectable email address
        Double-check your research
        Follow guidelines
        Be professional and polite
        Prepare for rejections
        Query in small batches

Once the research is done, this step can take a single day. You’ve got your list.
You’ve got your query. You’ve got your edited novel. You’re ready.

But first you need an email that is respectable and professional. Get rid of your
college email with “partygirl” in it or a string of letters and numbers no one can
decipher. Use your name—or at least the name you’re going to use in the
publishing world. There are many free places to sign up for email. Be
professional right from the start.

Then double-check your notes, re-read that interview and memorize the
guidelines for a handful of agents. Maybe 7-10. Start with a small batch, just to
test the query letter and ease yourself into the realm of querying. After you’ve
determined if the query is doing its job, you can send in batches of 10 or so
until you have lots of fish in the sea.

Brace yourself for the rejections that will inevitably come. It’s okay to let them
sting a little, but don’t let them linger. When a rejection comes, choose another
agent from your prepared list and send another query.

And then you wait. I have an entire section devoted to waiting, so check that
out. In the meantime, one of two things will happen. You’ll either get rejected
on the query alone, or you’ll get a request for more material.
                                                                                  29
Responding to Requests (or Rejections)
There is nothing more heart-stopping that seeing Re: Query – TITLE in your
inbox. Or a self-address stamped envelope in your mailbox. Nothing. Well,
maybe cliff diving.

When you get that response, it’s either a rejection or a request. Both should be
handled basically the same way—with tact and professionalism.

On Rejections:
My advice? Simply file them away in a folder created especially for them. I
created one in my gmail account called “Rejections” and they go quietly there
where I can count them later. Or better yet, just delete them. And be sure to
empty the trash so you can’t dig through it to find them later!

Don’t respond with an angry email. Don’t respond with a “Thank you anyway”
email. Just select another agent from your prepared list and hitch a smile on
your face. You were prepared for rejections before you started, remember?
Don’t let them get you down now.

On Requests:
First, laugh out loud. Maybe whoop or squee! or whatever it is that you do
when you’re excited.

Then get down to business. Give them exactly what they want. If they want the
document formatted as a .pdf or a rich-text file, do it. If they want 3 chapters,
give them 3 chapters—and don’t cheat and start combining chapters together
until your first 3 chapters are 75 pages long. Take the time to send the
submission out in the most professional way.

If the request is electronic, following these suggestions:

    Change the subject of the email to: Re: Requested
     Material – TITLE
    Reply to their email, so their request is directly below
     your message
    Include a brief message in the body of the email
     (suggestions below)
    Be timely, professional and personable
    Format your document so they know exactly what it is and how to get in
     touch with you




                                                                                30
Many times when we get a request, we have the uncontrollable urge to edit the
manuscript just “one more time!” Resist this urge. Have your manuscript ready
to send out at a moment’s notice BEFORE you begin querying. Now this
doesn’t mean that you have to send out the full five minutes after you get the
request. Be sure you have enough time to craft your email, double-check that
you’re sending the right document and can think clearly about what you’re
saying and doing.

Formatting your Submission:
Let’s discuss submission formatting first. I’m not going to go into great detail
here, but I am going to note two things: 1) Name your document something
specific and 2) put your contact info on every page.

Look at the names of some documents below. Which ones do you think are
more specific? If you were a literary agent and you downloaded five
manuscripts to read in a given week, which ones would you remember easily?

1.   THE RED COUCH by Georgia Newman
2.   TheLittleRedHenNew
3.    My Novel
4.   BEHIND THE COUCH first 50 pages by Harold Wheeler
5.   XBOX RULES! By Davey Jones

Hopefully you said #1, 4 and 5 are the easier ones to remember.

Give your submission a name describing what it is. If it’s the first
three chapters say so (GOING TO TOWN first 3 chapters by Sarah Scottsman).
Be sure to put your name in the document name. Titles should be in all caps.
This will help remind the agent what it is they’re reading and who wrote it
before they even open your submission.

Contact Info:
Inside the newly named document, be sure to include your contact info on
every page. Using the header and footer options, this is quite easy. Personally, I
put the TITLE (in all caps) and my last name in the header on the left. Page
numbers go in the header on the right. In the footer I put my complete email
address (also my full name) and my 10-digit phone number. Now, no matter
what page someone reads, they know the name of the book, who wrote it and
how to contact me. It’s a win/win for everyone.

Now that your document is prepared to send, you just need to prepare your
response.




                                                                                   31
Preparing Your Email Response:
How you respond depends on several things. A) What you know about the
agent B) How they spoke to you C) How they signed the request D) What they
called you in their request and E) Anything else you want to interpret. *winks*

I’m going to include some samples with possible responses so you can see what
I mean.

Request #1: The Less-Formal
Hi Elana,

You have a fabulous voice and I am intrigued by your first 10 pages.
Please send me the full as a word doc.

Thanks,
Super Agent X


Things to note:
       She   called me by my first name
       She   signed her first name
       She   wants the full as a word document
       She   likes my voice

I know you can read English, I’m just telling you this so you can see what I do
with it.

Possible message to include with this request:
Dear Super Agent X (she used her first name, so I do too),

Thank you for your kind words about the voice in the first 10 pages
(acknowledges what she said). As per your request earlier this afternoon, I am
including the full manuscript of TITLE (remind her, even though it’s in the
subject of the email and the name of the document) as a word attachment.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend/evening/day! (It’s less formal, so this is fine.)

Elana (Use first name only. Your email should have your full name, as
should your submission—on every single page.)




                                                                              32
Request #2: The Professional
Dear Ms. Johnson,

I would like to read your complete manuscript. Please send it to me as either
an RTF or Word.doc file.

Thank you,

[professional email signature, complete with agency information]


Things to note:
     She called me by my last name
     She didn’t even sign it—she simply used her standard signature
     She wants the full as a word document (.doc NOT .docx) or an RTF


Possible message to include with this request:
Dear Ms. Professional Agent (she used a formal name, so I do too),

Thank you for your request on May 15. As per your submission guidelines, I
am attaching the complete manuscript of my YA urban fantasy, TITLE,
(remind her, even though it’s in the subject of the email and the name of
the document) as a Word (.doc) file (specify which, since she gave a choice).
Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Elana Johnson (Use both first and last name for formality.)


Notice how much I’ve copied from her. “complete manuscript” “Word (.doc) file”
the “Ms. Last Name”. Mirror the level of formality as the agent dictates. I believe
this will always serve you well, as every agent is different.

Additional Online Resources:
     Tips on submitting by email from literary agent Colleen
      Lindsay
     Tips for formatting your manuscript from literary agent
      Nathan Bransford


Sending queries is an anxious endeavor. If you are prepared, you’ll have a
better experience. Let the rejections roll off your back and enjoy every request.
Once you’ve sent both queries and requests, you enter the next phase of
publishing: Waiting.


                                                                                33
Cover Letters
If you get a request and the agent wants you to send the material via snail
mail, you should include a cover letter with the submission. Some agents do
this even when queried electronically. No matter.

Cover letters are easy. It’s simply a business letter, complete with date and
address at the top. Greeting, body, complimentary close, all of that. Include the
following parts, and you’re good to head to the post office. It should fit on one
page, just as the query does, and be the first page in the stack of papers you’re
mailing off to the agent.

Include:
1. Date / Agent’s name and address
2. Greeting
3. The first paragraph of the body should thank the agent for requesting the
material. Include the date of the request, the title of the work and how much is
enclosed.
4. Query blurb
5. Bio / Publishing credits (just like from the query letter)
6. Complimentary close / signature / mailing address / contact information
7. Enclosures
8. Self-addressed stamped envelope

           TIPS WHEN SENDING REQUESTS VIA SNAIL MAIL:
     Write “REQUESTED MATERIAL” on the outside of the envelope, front
      and back.
     Pay for priority with delivery confirmation. The agent won’t have to sign,
      but you’ll know when they receive it.
     Use white plain white paper for the letter and the
      submission. Don’t forget to sign the letter!
     Don’t bind any pages.
     If they ask for a synopsis, put it behind the requested
      material. You want them to read the MS before the
      synop, right? Right.
     Stack everything in this order: cover letter, copy of their
      request letter (print the email or make a copy of the letter they snailed
      you), the requested material (synopsis last). I tuck the flap of my SASE
      around my cover letter so they come together when the agent pulls
      them out of the envelope.

Here’s a sample:



                                                                              34
17 September 2008

Eddie Schneider
JABberwocky Literary Agency
PO Box 4558
Sunnyside, NY 11104-0558

Dear Mr. Schneider,

Thank you for your interest in my young adult dystopian novel, CONTROL
ISSUES. As per your request on September 9, I am enclosing the first ten
chapters of the manuscript (76 pages) and a brief synopsis for the rest of the
work. You may contact me at any time via email: elanajohnson@gmail.com.

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant
to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering
them to pieces. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father
hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled. (This is my two
sentence pitch. Do you have one? You should.)

CONTROL ISSUES addresses the topic of teens fulfilling their duty as citizens
of society, along with how hard it is to grow up under the expectations of
parents and other adults when they're trying to make their life their own.

I am a graduate of Southern Utah University, with a B.S. in Elementary
Education and a minor in Mathematics. I now teach elementary school (well,
from August to May, I do) as well as write for the QueryTracker blog.

Thank you for your time and consideration,



Elana Johnson
[personal contact information]
[phone number]
elanajohnson@gmail.com
http://elanajohnson.com
http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com
http://querytracker.blogspot.com


Enclosures: SASE
76 pages of CONTROL ISSUES
Brief Synopsis of CONTROL ISSUES




                                                                                 35
Enduring Enjoying the Wait
How many of you choose the longest line at the grocery store? The one behind
that woman whose hair is coming out of her ponytail and has three children,
two of which are bawling and the third is in serious need of a Kleenex? Really?
You don’t choose that line?

Why not? Is it because you don’t want to wait? I’m just going to get this out
there: waiting is hard. Waiting is not my idea of a good time. I don’t think to
myself, “Yes! The light turned red! Now I get to wait.”

I’ve always had a problem waiting. I remember in college how mad, yes,
physically angry, I was when the bus was late. It all stems from my hatred of
waiting.

So what did I do years later keeping this whole I-hate-waiting-for-the-bus
incident in mind? Why, I threw myself headfirst into the publishing industry,
where 90% of my time is spent, get this, waiting.

My journey has looked something like this. Is this road familiar to any of you?

            Writing (the fun part)
            Waiting to hear back from beta readers.
            Waiting to get feedback on my query.
            Waiting to get advice on my synopsis.
            Researching Agents
            Sending queries
            Waiting to hear back on sent queries
            Waiting to hear back on sent queries
            Getting requests and/or rejections
            Waiting to hear back on sent queries
            Sending requests
            Waiting to hear back on sent queries
            Waiting to hear back on requests
            Waiting to hear back on requests
            Waiting to hear back on requests
            Waiting to hear back on sent queries

Publishing is one massive waiting game. So how do you make the game one
worth playing? Because let’s face it, if it’s not fun, why are we doing it? Maybe
some of you like self-inflicted torture, but me? Not so much. So I made myself a
“Waiting Toolkit.”




                                                                                  36
Packed carefully in the Waiting Toolkit are the following diversions and/or
tactics for enduring enjoying the wait.

      Waiting Toolkit Ideas:
            Write
            Read
            Help someone
            Research
            Enjoy life


Write. Something new, something old, something, um, not borrowed, and/or
something blue. Just write. This can be hard after finishing something to the
point where you’re sending it out for representation. Don’t let your inner editor
take over. Remember why you became a writer in the first place—because it is
fun. You enjoyed it. You can again.

Read. There’s nothing like a good book to pass the hours/days/months you’ll
have to wait. Take the time to actually enjoy it. And reading will make you a
better writer. Or at least more familiar with what's out there already. Read
novels you want to just for fun. Or read novels by authors your dream-agent
represents. Either way, reading is a great waiting-buster for a writer.

Help someone else in the journey. Beta-read. Participate in a critique group
(something you should probably be doing anyway). Help with queries on one of
the forums mentioned in the query samples section.

Research. Use this “waiting” time to research more agents, more story ideas,
more publishing ins and outs, a new way to improve your craft. You can count
your blog reading in this category. You’d be amazed how fast the hours fly by
when you’re learning something new or immersing yourself in becoming a
better writer.

Enjoy the twittering of the birds, the rain as it hits the eaves, the spring breeze
wafting off the Rocky Mountains…. No seriously, take a step back from the
computer. Enjoy your real life. Your family. Your job. Just being alive. Go for a
run. A walk on the beach. Something to remind yourself that you’re a real
person too—not just a writer.




                                                                                 37
Revising for an Agent
I think it’s pretty common knowledge that authors revise and/or edit for their
agents. And then for editors. And pretty much forever. But what about when an
agent asks for revisions BEFORE they offer?

How do you handle that?

My advice: Professionally. Actually, I think there are a few things that need to
happen before you launch into difficult and often painful revisions without a
contract.

1. Ask the agent if the revision is an exclusive. If they say yes, you’ll have to
decide if you want to do revisions exclusively for them. I personally don’t think
exclusives are good for anyone—especially authors.


Check out this link on exclusives by literary agent, Janet Reid.


If you have multiple submissions out, it’s going to be difficult to grant the
Revision Agent an exclusive. Once you finish the revisions, you’re going to want
to alert the other agents that you have a new version of the manuscript—and
you can’t do that if you have an exclusive.

Since you want to keep your options open for any agent to potentially offer,
granting an exclusive isn’t a good idea. That said, some agents won’t work with
you unless you do give them an exclusive, and if some of the ideas are
theirs...well, you can see the tangled web it could become.

So be honest and upfront with what you have out there. Even who it’s with if
the agent asks. You have nothing to hide. You want the very best agent for you
and your novel. It might be the Revision Agent. It might not.

2. Ask yourself: Do I agree with the suggestions? If so, full speed ahead. If
not, you don’t have to do them. Agents are people too. Just because they want
something a specific way, doesn’t mean you have to do it. Especially without a
signed contract. But definitely let the suggestions stew; don’t reject them
outright. Agents are agents for a reason—they know books. Consider carefully.

3. Communicate regularly. Keep the agent in the loop on what you’re doing
and when you anticipate finishing. Ask them questions. They are genuinely
interested in you and your work, and if they’ve asked for specific revisions, you
have every right to run things by them.


                                                                               38
Oftentimes, we feel like we’re burdening them—especially if we’re not their
client yet. Remember that you never get what you don’t ask for. Now, I’m not
saying email them every time you write a new sentence. But keep in touch.
Check in with them every couple of weeks until the revisions are done.

                  REVISIONS ARE DONE. NOW WHAT?

          Alert the Revisions Agent. Send the revised full with a message
           thanking them for their time.
          Alert all other agents with material. *Note: You can only do this if you
           haven’t granted an exclusive to Revision Agent.
          Send out the revised manuscript when you get new requests and to
           any agents who say they’ll look at it.


Word to the Wise: I wouldn’t offer more than one revision when dealing with
agents. Otherwise, it might come off as the novel not being complete and you
could get rejected.

Here’s a sample of an email you could send when offering a revision:

Dear Agent,

I recently submitted my full manuscript of XXX, a young adult dystopian novel,
for your consideration. I’ve received feedback from two agents and have decided
to incorporate their suggestions (higher stakes and faster pacing) before
resubmitting the manuscript to them. I was wondering if perhaps you would
like the recently revised edition of XXX to consider. I’d be happy to forward it to
you.

Thank you for your time,

You

I’ve also used this one:

Dear Agent,

I recently submitted my full manuscript of XXX, a young adult dystopian novel,
for your consideration. A day or two after I sent the MS, I had a scheduled
phone call with an agent. We talked, and she wanted some specific revisions. I
have recently completely those revisions. I was wondering if perhaps you would
like the revised edition of XXX to consider. I’d be happy to forward it to you.

Thank you for your time,

Me

                                                                                39
Fielding “The Call”
When the agent comes calling…it’s best to be prepared.

I have talked to several agents on the phone and had extensive email dealings
with many more. The first time, I knew it wasn’t going to be an offer of
representation. Yet I still prepared like it would be. I found the links and
printed the list of questions “just in case.”

I had just over 24 hours to prepare. Here’s an interesting approach that you
might want to try.

I forwarded the email to one of my dearest, dearest friends. Make sure this is
someone you love unconditionally—and they love you back that way. Also, this
person should be a writer themselves. Because, really, writers are the only ones
who get what it means when an agent call is scheduled.

She said she’d call me that night, pretending to be a literary agent. And she
did. And I giggled and was nervous even though I knew it was only my friend.
I’m just like that.

But you know what? It really helped me. When the real call came the next day,
I already had my hyena-laughing out of the way. I was focused, eloquent, and
flat-out prepared (if I do say so myself).

                      TIPS FOR FIELDING THE CALL:
      Print out the online resources
      Practice with a friend
      Be yourself
      Remember that the agent is just a person too


After that first call, I received two more from the same agent. An offer was
never extended, but I learned a valuable lesson. Agents are normal. They are
friends, sisters, spouses, mothers, fathers, bloggers, readers, writers, and just
people. Don’t ever forget it. And if you want me to practice with you on the
phone, I can. I’m a stranger—and that’s what an agent is the first time you talk
to them. So don’t sweat it.




                                                                               40
MY “REAL” CALL:
My story is somewhat unique. I’d talked to a few agents on the phone by the
time I got “the one.” And I’d already talked to this agent on the phone as well.
I’m represented by Michelle Andelman, and she had requested a round of
revisions before offering representation.

When she called the second time, I seriously thought I might die.

And then she said the five best words on the planet: “I can now offer
representation.”

And I think I giggled and exhaled at the same time, probably sounding like… I
don’t even know what.

I had a few questions, but I’d already talked to Michelle, already had a feel for
her list, already had been stalking her online. So the conversation was
relaxed—hey, I was an old pro by now, remember?—and it was only afterward
when I was chatting with my friend that I realized that “Holy cow. I have an
offer of representation.”

Since my call, I’ve had a few friends ask for advice on what they should do as
they prepare for their own calls. What I always tell them:

   1. Be yourself.
   2. Be prepared. (Online research, questions printed, etc.)

And that’s all you really need to do.

Read my success story on QT.



Now, let’s see how some other authors handled “the call.”

I’m delighted to introduce you to our guests: Agented Authors! First, we have
Cole Gibsen, young adult author of KATANA, represented by Chris Richman at
Upstart Crow Literary. Lisa and Laura Roecker, young adult sister-authors of
WHAT LIES BENEATH PEMBERLY BROWN, represented by Catherine Drayton
of InkWell Management. Leah Clifford, young adult author of REAPERS
represented by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio. Michelle
McLean, non-fiction author of FROM PAPERS TO POETRY, represented by
Krista Goering. Bethany Wiggins, young adult author of THE HUNTED,
represented by Marlene Stringer. And Christine Fonseca, non-fiction author of
EMOTIONALLY INTENSE, represented by Krista Goering. Their contact
information can be found below.


                                                                                 41
Q: How did you prepare for the phone call? Loud pitched
screaming? Frantic web-searching? Large amounts of Dove
dark?

Cole: I consulted with my fabulous friends that I made through Query Tracker
– many of whom had already experienced “The Call” and had a wealth of
knowledge to share.

Laura/Lisa: Luckily we had a little warning because we received an email that
an agent loved the manuscript and wanted to set up time to talk. So, we dug
up (and I mean dug) an old email that listed questions to ask potential agents.

Leah: All of the above? I went on AgentQuery and they had a great article on
what to do when an agent calls, so I relied on that pretty heavily. But I also
had a very strong idea of what I personally wanted in an agent, so I asked
specifically about communication and how they work edits (line vs. big picture
and why). For me though, one of the most important questions I asked was
what their favorite book was as a child. I wanted to see if they were as excited
talking about my book as they were about their favorites.

Michelle: Yes, yes, and yes. In fact, when I got the email requesting the call, I
screamed so loud I scared my kids and had to tone it down a bit. I then
researched every blog post and article I could on The Call, and got together a
list of questions I wanted answered. After that, it was just a matter of deep-
breathing exercises to keep my heart from jumping out of my chest.

Christine: Can I say all of the above? I started by calming the screaming voices
so I could think. Once that happened, I was able to pull the list of questions I
had tucked away. I read them, called a friend who had just gone through
something similar, researched the agent (some more), frantically emailed
anyone who would talk with me and paced. A lot.

Bethany: I didn't have time to prepare. I emailed my agent my home phone
number and she called within minutes! Months earlier, when I had started the
querying process, I looked at websites that had specific questions about when
agents call. But by the time I had a real live agent on the other end of the line,
my mind went blank. After the call, I went to the chocolate shop and indulged.




                                                                                42
Q: How did you stay calm during the call?

Lisa: Umm…I didn’t. The first call I was ok, because we had scheduled a time
to discuss via e-mail, but we had written all of the other agents considering our
full MS and when our future agent actually called me on the phone to tell me
that she was going to be reading our book over the weekend and would call us
on Monday, I was a blathering idiot. And then when she called AGAIN the very
next day to offer representation I was a total mess. I have two kids under the
age of 4 and it was 5 pm. Any mother knows that a phone call at 5pm on a
Friday is pretty much a suicide mission. To say it was a trainwreck is a huge
understatement. I had to put the agent on hold to give the kids lollipops and
shortly thereafter one of the kids started gagging on the lollipop, it was kind of
a nightmare. I finally ended up locking myself in the bathroom with my laptop.
It was just really hard to focus and as a result I didn’t have a good impression
of the agent. Thankfully we scheduled a second time to talk, so Laura, my
writing partner, could be on the phone too. That time we were prepared and
somewhat calm.

Laura: The only experience I have with business calls is when I would call
parents in regards to student performance. So obviously, this is all new to me. I
tried to remind myself that we have the goods—we are the writers and have
produced something and are trying to find someone to best represent us.
Clearly, my heart was pounding and my voice was shaking those first few
minutes, but I settled down and felt more comfortable the more we got to
talking. Deep breaths and lots of walking around in circles helped too. What
didn’t help, was my daughter screaming to get out of her crib. Apparently, 11
month olds don’t understand the importance of business calls.

Leah: I was actually really surprised. I stayed pretty calm once I was on the
phone, it was the before that made me nervous. The thing to remember is
agents are just people.

Michelle: I was a bundle of nerves for the first ten seconds, but once we got
talking it was easy to calm down. Agents really are just regular people. We
talked about the book, about how she operated and what we both expected
from each other, talked a bit about my background, our families, a little of
everything. I didn’t become completely calm until she uttered those wonderful
words, “I’d like to represent you,” but for the most part, it was just a normal
conversation that I could have had with anyone.

Bethany: Calm? I didn't! My hands were trembling, my voice was a steady,
shaky monotone. I locked myself in my bedroom and sat on the floor, forcing
myself to take deep, calm breaths while my agent did most of the talking. I
think she carried on the first part of the conversation just to put me at ease.
When I did talk, it was hard to turn my thought into coherent sentences. That's
why I am a writer. Everything looks and sounds so good when I've edited it ten
times.

                                                                                43
Q: Did you take notes?

Lisa: Yes, for each of the calls I had a word doc up with all of the questions I
wanted to ask and I typed furiously the entire time. I wanted to remember
everything they said about our writing and the potential for the book, so Laura
and I could discuss it later.

Laura: Yes. I wanted to make sure that when I was done with the call I could
report back to Lisa. It also helped to take notes so I could keep track of which
agent said what. It’s funny how much is forgotten out of excitement.

Leah: I took almost two pages of notes for each agent that I spoke with. I wrote
out all of the questions I wanted to ask, with big spaces in between so there
was room to write the answer. It really helped because I could see if I’d missed
anything.

Q: About how long was the call?

Cole: Over an hour – but it hardly felt like it. That’s one of the benefits of
having an agent who used to be a comedy writer. I was too busy laughing to be
nervous.

Lisa: It varied from agent to agent. The shortest call was probably 10 minutes,
the longest call was probably 45 minutes.

Leah: My phone calls lasted anywhere between an hour and two, give or take.
Your phone call should last as long as it takes for you to be comfortable
enough to have your questions answered and have a good sense of the plans
for your book. It should last as long as it takes for you to be comfortable with
that person handling your career.




Online Resources:
       Advice from Agent Query
       Advice from Marsha Moyer
       The Passionate Pen
       Tips from literary agent Rachelle Gardener
       Tips from literary agent Jessica Faust
       The Association of Artist’s Representatives
       SFWA Warnings About Agents




                                                                               44
Q: If you feel comfortable, can you name some specific things
you talked about with your agent?

Cole: Basically I asked the questions that I had outlined and Chris gave me
straight up answers. I asked him about his ideas for revisions, his ideas for
submission, and his availability.

Lisa: We spoke a lot about how she would be marketing the book to editors.
She told us that when she evaluates an MS for representation she looks at all
the reasons why an editor would say no and she does whatever she can to fix
those issues. So she ran through that list with us and talked about whether or
not we’d be comfortable with her suggestions.

Laura: We talked about how the economy is effecting publishing and the
impact that has on debut authors. One agent actually said debut authors have
it better right now because we are cheaper. We also talked about how to best
communicate and what we could expect of the entire process. All the agents we
spoke with were extremely involved in the process and would communicate on
a regular basis. This is important to us.

Leah: I might not be like others, as I didn’t really concentrate on being uber
professional on the phone. I tried my best to be myself, and knowing that I
joke around a lot and I’m sarcastic, I wanted an agent who would get that and
get ME as a person. My agent calls ranged over pretty much every topic
imaginable. The focus was the writing and my future, but I covered a ton of
really interesting subjects while trying to feel each agent out and make sure
they were the best fit for me.

Michelle: I had already researched her background and sales, and most agent
contracts are pretty similar (though I did want to know if she had a contract
and what the specifics were), so I was really interested in knowing how our
working relationship would work. I wanted to know how available she’d be for
emails and phone calls; how often she’d be in touch once we started
submitting; how involved she was in revisions; if she had any editors in mind
already; and if she was interested in working with me on just this project or if
she wanted to work on future projects as well.

Christine: Because my NF book falls in a very small niche, we spent the bulk
of our call talking about the right market for my book, why I am so passionate
on the subject, and ways to distinguish myself from others who write similar
things.

Bethany: My agent was very interested in other things I had written. She
wanted to know if I was planning to turn my manuscript into a series, how long
it took to write the initial manuscript, the premise for book two, if any other
agents had my manuscript, stuff like that.

                                                                                45
Q: If you received more than one offer, how did you know
which agent was the right one for you?

Lisa: This was SO hard. At first we were completely torn. We just didn’t have
that gut feeling about any of the agents. There were things that we loved about
all of them and we just couldn’t decide. But then we had one last conversation
with Catherine and we both hung up the phone and just knew that she was the
agent for us. She had a vision for our book and she loved it. It was actually a
little surreal that she loved it, but she did.

Laura: At first, we didn’t. Lisa spoke with the first agent before I had a chance
to and instantly felt a connection. After I spoke with her, I felt the same way.
Then we both spent time on the phone with the second agent and saw a lot of
positives to going with that agent as well. The third agent called Lisa to offer
representation without warning. Needless to say, there were a lot of lollypops
shoved into little mouths at Lisa’s house that night. She talked to each agent
before I had a chance to, and had no idea which one was right for us. She was
torn. And then we had one last conversation with Catherine—we were both on
the phone together. I remember thinking the entire call, this is her. This is our
agent. And I wondered if I would have a hard time convincing Lisa. As soon as
we hung up with Catherine, Lisa called. She’s our agent. We practically said it
at the same time. I was hoping the entire time, I would just know, and I did.
You just know.

Leah: For me, this was the hardest question to answer. I received four offers
from four amazing but very different agents. What it came down to was who I
connected with best and who I felt would be the best advocate for my novel and
my career. I really feel that I found that in Rosemary.

Christine: I had four proposals out at the time of my call. After talking with my
online friends after the initial call, I decided to let the other agents know of my
offer and give them a chance to respond. Two of them contacted me via email
and indicated that while they were interested, they were not necessarily ready
to go. They suggested that I take the offer if I felt comfortable with the agent.

I decided after two days to go with the initial offer. I was very impressed with
our conversation, impressed with the research the agent had done PRIOR to
calling me, and impressed with her ideas for marketing/selling my book. Her
passion matched mine on the topic, with was ultimately the deciding factor for
me.

Bethany: I only received the one offer. Marlene was one of my top ten agents—I
didn't want another agent. I emailed the other agents with my manuscript to let
them know I had accepted an offer of representation. When I got the call, even
though I would have loved to give a spontaneous yes, I had to think on the
decision to take my writing to the next step. To become a published writer is a
huge, life changing commitment. I had to ponder it very carefully. After forty-

                                                                                46
eight hours of soul searching and pinching myself to make sure I wasn't
dreaming, I spoke with Marlene again and accepted her offer.

Q: Overall, what’s the one piece of advice you have for authors
who receive the call?

Cole: Stay calm, have a list ready, a donut in hand, and when it comes down to
it, go with your gut instinct. It won’t steer you wrong.

Lisa: Be confident! An agent loves your book. It’s their turn to impress you. A
couple of the agents we spoke with mentioned that they were turned off by
authors who didn’t come across as confident.

Laura: Remember, they want you. They are calling because they saw
something in your writing (maybe money signs, but hopefully something more
than that) and want to use their connections to help you. The querying process
humbled me. Especially with our first book. We received rejection after
rejection. I began to consider agents more powerful than God. They had the
power to make or break our book. But after learning from all (okay, maybe not
all, but hopefully most) of our misakes the first time around and producing
something we thought was successful, we grabbed some of our confidence
back. Agents are not God. They are just experts with a bunch of contacts that
we need. We need eachother. Remain confident, especially during that phone
call. You’re good and you deserve this.

Leah: Have fun! Be yourself and don’t hesitate to ask questions they may not
have heard before…chances are they’ve heard a LOT and had a chance to get
their answers down over the years. I had great fun asking really random
questions just to keep them on their toes.

Michelle: Above all, be confident in yourself and in your work. No one is going
to take you seriously if you don’t take yourself seriously. The agent is calling
you because they are interested in you and your work, even if they are just
calling to discuss the book without an upfront offer of representation. They
wouldn’t be taking the time out of their incredibly busy day unless they
thought you were worth the effort. It is their turn to impress you. So try not to
be too nervous (way easier said than done, I know) and just BE CONFIDENT in
yourself, your work, and your abilities.

Christine: Stay calm and remember that it is just another human being you
are talking to. Like a job interview, this is YOUR chance to interview the agent,
as much as it is their chance to interview you. I think part of the reason I was
not nervous on the phone had to do with the number of people I have
interviewed for jobs throughout my life.

Also, take your time to make your decision and be open to whatever happens.


                                                                              47
Bethany: Be yourself! The agent already loves your book. She/he is probably
hoping you won't reject her!

     Additional questions to consider:
         How long have you been in business as an agent?
         Are you a member of the AAR? If not, do you adhere to the
          guidelines set forth by the AAR?
         How many clients do you represent? [Hint: If they represent 50,
          they’re not going to have a lot of time for you.]
         Who in your agency will actually be handling my work? Will you
          represent me personally, or will my book be assigned to an
          associate?
         What made you decide that you wanted to represent my work?
         Do you feel that the project is ready for submission to publishers,
          or will I need to make revisions before submission?
         If the manuscript needs revisions, how extensive will they be? Will
          they be small changes, or will I need to make major plot or
          character changes?
         How involved are you in working with your clients in developing
          ideas?
         Which editors or publishing houses do you believe would be a good
          fit for my book?
         What houses that publish my type of manuscript have you placed
          projects with?
         How often will you be in touch when I’m on submission? Do you
          prefer email contact or by phone? Generally what is your response
          time?
         What can I do to increase my book’s chances of selling?
         Do you represent your clients on a book-by-book basis, or are you
          interested in representing future projects as well?
         What if I decide to write something in [different genre you’re
          considering]? Would you represent that book as well? If not, how
          would you feel about referring me to another agent?
         If you can’t sell this manuscript, what happens? Do we revise? Will
          you look at other work by me? Or am I dropped as a client?
         What are your commission rates? [Standard is 15% domestic.]
         Do you issue a written agent-author agreement or contract? What
          is the duration of the contract?
         Will you consult with me on any and all offers?
         When you receive money for me, how quickly do you pay out my
          share? Will you issue a 1099 tax form at the end of the year? How
          do I get my money if something happens to you?
         In the event of death or illness, what provisions do you make for
          continued representation?
         What are your policies if we should part company for any other
          reasons?
         What are your questions or expectations for me if I decide to take

                                                                           48
    you on as my agent?
   What are your favorite books?
   You mentioned revisions, how long does that process usually take?
    Do you do line edits or just overall comments? How extensive are
    the revisions?
   Do you have any similar books to ours on your list?
   Do you have specific editors in mind who you think will like it?
   How does the revision process work? Ask about revisions – will you
    just send us a copy of the MS marked up with suggested rewrites?
   Do you prefer to communicate via e-mail? How often will you be in
    touch when we’re on submission?
   Will the current economic environment make it difficult to sell a
    debut?
   When will you decide to give up on an MS? If you can’t sell TITLE,
    will you look at other work for us?
   What questions do you have for me?


AUTHORS WHO PROVIDED THIS INFORMATION:
   Cole Gibsen
    Website
    Blog
   Lisa and Laura Roecker
    Website
    Blog
   Leah Clifford
    Blog
   Michelle McLean
    Website
    Blog
   Christine Fonseca
    Blog
   Bethany Wiggins
    Website
    Blog




                                                                    49
Query Samples
  When I sat down to write my query letter, I had several spread out over the
  counter. Remember that?

  Well, me being a QueryTracker girl, that’s where I found the query letters. I’m
  not going to post them all here, but I am going to include the links to the ones I
  used. I simply copied them, pasted them into a Word document, and printed
  them out so I had a hard copy. Easy, peasy.

  Scott Tracey’s Query Letter for WITCH EYES
  Lindsey Leavitt’s Query Letter for SEAN GRISWOLD’S
  HEAD
  Mary Lindsey’s Query Letter for CATALYST
  Dorothy Winsor’s Query Letter for BREWSTER’S MAGIC
  (with her agent’s comments)
  Kristal Shaff’s Query Letter for THE EMISSARY
  Ashley Knowlton’s Query Letter for HIJACKED


  THERE ARE MANY MORE SUCCESS STORIES AND SUCCESSFUL QUERIES SINCE
  I STARTED THIS PROCESS, SO BE SURE TO CHECK THEM OUT.

            QT Success Stories




                                                                                 50
I also emailed my friends who had received multiple requests and asked to see
their query letters. Author Michelle McLean was one of those, and her query is
posted below.

Dear Ms. Whalen,

I am pleased to submit for your consideration, TREASURED LIES, complete at
97,000 words. In this romantic suspense novel, set in Victorian England, young
Minuette Sinclair is swept into an illicit affair with a reformed thief, Bryant
Westley, and becomes entangled in the search for a priceless necklace with a
bloody past.

When Bryant’s former associate in crime, Lord Rellik, commands him to steal the
famed Courtland necklace in exchange for his family's lives, Bryant reluctantly
agrees to return to his criminal profession. Tracking the elusive necklace, he
accepts a position at Miss Courtland’s Boarding and Finishing school. A
distraction, in the form of the quirky and beautiful Minuette Sinclair, is the last
thing Bryant needs. But Min becomes a temptation too strong to resist, and
Bryant will do anything to keep her in his life.

The moment Min meets Bryant, the handsome new dance instructor at her
school, she is instantly captivated and soon in love, even after learning of his
dark past and uncertain future. Min joins him in his quest to find the jewels that
will buy his freedom and save his mother and sister. Their passionate devotion
sustains them as they struggle through the mystery surrounding the infamous
gems. However, when the impatient Rellik fears he has been double-crossed, a
horrific murder attempt forces Min and Bryant to separate until they can find a
way to vanquish Rellik for good.

TREASURED LIES would be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good romance with
a hearty side of mystery. My writing is aided by a BS in History, an MA in
English, my membership in RWA National, RWA Chapter #136, and two online
critique groups. I have also been published in three recent Chicken Soup for the
Soul books.

I would be happy to send you a partial or the complete manuscript. Thank you
for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
Michelle McLean
      Blog
      Website




                                                                                 51
Jamie Harrington sent me her query for critique, and I asked her if I could
include it here. Here’s hers broken down from beginning to end.

ORIGINAL VERSION:

Dear Secret Agent Man,
Compared to the cool things the rest of her family can do, sixteen –year-old
Sketch McGee’s ability to draw the future makes her a pretty lame villain. But
when she discovers she can change the future with her doodles, she draws
super hero Zip into the bad boy boyfriend she always wanted.

Sketch(Megan) McGee is a clumsy geek who isn’t looking for love, but when the
new guy at school, Chase Fairway, catches her eye—all that changes. They
quickly fall for one another, but her heart is broken when she discovers he’s the
new do-gooder in town flying around mucking up her family’s life of crime. So,
she does what any girl with the power to change the future would do, she draws
him into the perfect villain. Things are going great, until she realizes he’s the
reason she keeps drawing pictures of her father’s corpse, and she has to alter
her perfect relationship to save her dad’s life.

SKETCH McGEE, a Young Adult Science Fiction novel complete at 65,000 words,
is available upon request.


WITH MY NOTES:

Dear Secret Agent Man,

Compared to the cool things [I think this is a little ambiguous. Tell me what
her family can do.] the rest of her family can do, sixteen–year-old Sketch
McGee’s ability to draw the future makes her a pretty lame villain. But when she
discovers she can change the future with her doodles, she draws super hero Zip
into the bad-boy boyfriend [The double “boy” here freaked me out. I think if
you hyphenate it, it will work better.] she always wanted.

Sketch(Megan) McGee is a clumsy geek who isn’t looking for love, but when the
new guy at school, Chase Fairway, catches her eye, all that changes. [This feels
like starting over. You’ve already intro’ed her, why are you doing it
again?] They quickly fall for one another, but her Her heart is broken when she
discovers he’s the new do-gooder in town flying around mucking up her family’s
life of crime. So, she does what any girl with the power to change the future
would do, she draws [Does it only work if she draws? Cuz I think “paints”
would be a way better word here.] him into the perfect villain. [Again, you’ve
already said this. Chase becomes Zip, right?] Things are going great, until
she realizes he’s the reason she keeps drawing pictures of her father’s corpse,
[How? How is Chase the reason? Or is it Zip? Does Zip do something to

                                                                                 52
jeopardize her father’s life?] and she has to alter her perfect relationship to
save her dad’s life.

SKETCH McGEE, a Young Adult Science Fiction[Whoa. Science Fiction? I
don’t think so. She’s a super-villain, right? That’s fantasy. And probably
urban, cuz to be science fiction you’ve got to have science involved
somehow. Now, if her family gained their superpowers through the use of
science (think Maximum Ride, how she’s genetically altered to have
wings) then it’s not science fiction. It’s fantasy. Actual science must be
involved for a novel to be considered science fiction. And from this query,
I don’t get science fiction at all. Like at all. For what it’s worth.] novel
complete at 65,000 words, is available upon request.

I’m not sure about this. I don’t think the first paragraph goes with the
second at all. It’s like two separate queries. I like the first graf, but you’ve
got to make the second mesh with it. I think the first sentence is pretty
good, but I think you’ve got to stick with her for a while.

Consider:
Compared to acid spit and XXX, sixteen-year-old Sketch McGee’s ability
to draw the future makes her a lame villain in a family of super-bads. In
fact, she’s a clumsy geek just trying to survive high school. When the new
guy, Chase Fairway, catches her eye, all that changes. But she has no
chance with the do-gooder who’s flying around mucking up her family’s
life of crime. While doodling, she discovers she can change her future—
she can paint Chase into the perfect bad-boy boyfriend she’s always
wanted.

So she does.

Armed with Zip, life is going great. Until Sketch realizes Zip is the reason
she keeps drawing pictures of her father’s corpse. (I still want to know
HOW/WHY he’s the reason.) Now Sketch will have to find a way to draw a
new future, or risk watching her father’s death—in real life.

Or something. Maybe? Yes? No? You’ve got some great bits, but they’re
not in the right order, I don’t think.




                                                                                  53
Jamie’s final query that fetched her a whole lotta requests.


Dear Secret Agent Man,

(SOME SORT OF PERSONALIZATION IF I CAN COME UP WITH IT-EVEN IF IT’S
JUST QUOTING THE WHAT THEY WANT AND SAYING MINE IS IT OFF THE
AGENTQUERY WEBSITE)

Compared to super speed and mind reading, sixteen-year-old Sketch McGee’s
ability to draw the future makes her a pretty lame villain in a family of super-
bads. It’s all she can do to make it through a day of high school, much less
mastermind evil plans. But, everything changes when the new guy, Chase
Fairway, steals her heart—which is quickly broken when she discovers he’s the
obnoxious new do-gooder in town flying around mucking up her family’s life of
crime.

Drawing the future turns out to be a little bit cooler when she learns she can also
shape it however she wants. Goodbye do-gooder, hello perfect bad-boy boyfriend
Chase. Life is great, until she figures out he’s a whole different kind of bad guy.
Not bank-robbing, diamond-stealing evil like her family, but murderous
psychopath evil. Suddenly her drawings of a man standing over her dad’s
lifeless body make perfect, horrifying sense. Chase plans to kill her dad.

Governed by her emotions and struggling to control her powers, she has to find a
way to erase her mistakes and create a new future without Chase as her
boyfriend, or watch her father’s death—in real life.

SKETCH McGEE, a YA Urban Fantasy complete at 55,000 words, is available
upon request. I have included the first five pages below. Thank you for your time,
and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Jamie Harrington
     Twitter
     Blog



Oh, and let’s not forget that Jaime then received FIVE offers of representation!
She signed with Victoria Horn in October, 2009.




                                                                                54
Sara Tribble asked for help, and here’re the results of that.

ORIGINAL QUERY:

Dear Agent of Hope,

(I’m opening up with a personalized tidbit.)

Sonya Welks’ normal life doesn’t include robbing banks, framing innocent people,
or even saving her mother’s life—at least not until she marries Jacks who lets
her in on his secret to make it possible.

Sonya never lives in the moment but then she meets Jacks, whose influence
change her to who she's always wanted to be, after leaving Oklahoma for a new
life to claim independence by pursuing college in Texas. He gets her a job at the
company he works for, Trust Incorporated; with the belief she helps Jacks
transfer money from banks to clients. Although some things strike her as odd,
like how he carries a gun and has loads of money stashed, she doesn’t ask
questions because everything about Jacks is smooth, precise, and careful.

During their stay at Hawaii, they have to cut the trip short from an important
work call. They go back home to Dallas, but when Sonya wakes up from the car
ride she recognizes her parents house, not her own. With a note on the door, she
hurries to the hospital to learn her mother is dying and there’s nothing the
doctors can do. Sonya doesn’t understand why Jacks brought her home,
especially at a time like this, but then he reveals everything he's kept hidden. He
can travel through time, he uses the talent to rob banks and cuts deals with the
FBIU then frames innocent people for the fall.

None of that matters when he explains he can obtain medicine that hasn't been
invented yet for her mother—now Sonya must choose to travel into the future for
a cure that may not work or let Death claim her without trying. (and regret it the
rest of her life. --Possible add in to that sentence. Thoughts?)

JACKS AND SPADES is complete at 71,000 words and is a Paranormal Romance
story. (Then I add my publications/closing stuff here, along with the info a full or
partial is available.)




                                                                                  55
WITH MY NOTES:

Dear Agent of Hope,

(I’m opening up with a personalized tidbit.)

Sonya Welks’ normal life doesn’t include robbing banks, framing innocent people,
or even saving her mother’s life—at least not until she marries Jacks who lets
her in on his secret to make it possible. [Nice hook! I’d keep this. ]

[Okay, in the first sentence you have them married, and now she’s just
meeting him. I wouldn’t back track like this.] Sonya never lives in the
moment but then she meets Jacks, whose influence change her to who she's
always wanted to be, after leaving Oklahoma for a new life to claim
independence by pursuing college in Texas. He Jacks gets her a job at the
company he works for in Texas, [If Texas is important. If not, leave it out.
You don’t have to spill everything in a query.] Trust Incorporated; with the
belief that she’s transferring money from banks to clients. Although some things
strike her as odd, like how Jacks carries a gun and has loads of money stashed
around the apartment, she doesn’t ask questions because everything about her
new husband is smooth, precise, and careful.

During their honeymoon, they have to cut the trip short when an important work
call from Trust Inc. comes in. But there are more pressing things than work—
Sonya’s mother is dying and there’s nothing the doctors can do.

Which is true. Doctors can’t do anything. But Jacks can—because he can travel
through time. [Give this its own line for ultimate power.]

None of his illegal dealings (like robbing banks, framing the innocent and cutting
deals with the FBIU) matter when he explains he can obtain the life-saving
medicine that hasn't been invented yet. Sonya must choose to travel into the
future for a cure that may or may not work—becoming a criminal herself—or let
her mother die.

A paranormal romance, JACKS AND SPADES is complete at 71,000 words.


You can also see an earlier query critique I did for Sara on the QueryTracker
forum.

Sara’s final query fetched her SIX requests for a partial!




                                                                                56
Rebecca Sutton, a fellow blogger and QueryTracker forum member, asked for
help with her query. And I let her have it! Check out the crit I did for her on the
QT forum.

ORIGINAL VERSION:
Eighteen-year-old Abbey Willard hasn’t heard from her first love, Michael, for
over two years. He disappeared the night she nearly lost her life in a car
accident—something Abbey’s always felt was no coincidence. While packing for
a trip home she stumbles across a letter from Michael inside an old suitcase.
Abbey calls the faded phone number on the letter and someone named Gabriel
answers—a brother Michael never mentioned.

When Abbey meets Gabriel she instantly recognizes him as a famous and
exceptionally arrogant rock star. Even more shocking than Gabriel’s identity is
the news he shares. Michael could be dead. The two embark on a journey
following the clues Michael left behind, taking them from the savannah to the
western coast of Africa where Gabriel reveals his family secret. They’re not
really from the place they claimed. In fact, they’re not from any place you’d find
on a globe.

WITH MY NOTES:
The night eighteen-year-old Abbey Willard nearly lost her life in a car accident
was the same night she lost Michael—for good. Or so she thought. Now, almost
two years later, she's found a letter, complete with Michael's distinct
handwriting. And an unknown phone number. When she calls, she discovers an
estranged brother Michael never mentioned.

A lead singer with a new recording contract, Abbey doesn’t have time for an
arrogant rock star who blames (suspects) her for his brother’s death
(disappearance). But that’s exactly what she gets in Michael’s brother, Gabriel.
Despite his attitude, Abbey teams up with him to find Michael, wondering why
appliances don’t work in Gabriel’s presence [XXX] or how he escapes a lightning
storm unscathed [YYY]. [I think you want to put a couple of very specific
examples [XXX] and [YYY] of the paranormal things Gabriel can do. This
will lead into the reveal that he can control energy.]

After revealing his ability to control energy [I almost want a concrete example
of what this means exactly, but if you give me [XXX] and [YYY] above this
will be taken care of] Gabriel comes clean and explains the reason his family
is on Earth. They’re part of an alien group living on Earth to help life survive. If
they leave, humans start dying—and so does the planet.

If Abbey can’t figure out a way to play nice intergalactically, she may not have a
planet to live on at all.

                                                                                 57
Katie Anderson’s Full Query:
When a girl looks into a boy's eyes, she hopes to see his soul, but when sixteen
year old Emerson Taylor kisses a boy's lips, she also sees his past.

Emerson Taylor is sixteen and a kissing virgin, much to her complete and utter
horror - until one day when she and some friends play an innocent game of Spin
the Bottle. While her first kiss is brief and nothing special, what she discovers
shortly afterward is definitely special.

When Emerson kisses a boy, she can see his past. And it doesn't take her long
to figure out how to kiss and steal test answers, gossip and secrets... But the
kiss that will rock her world is the kiss she carefully plans after her BFF
disappears without a trace. For this kiss, she will have to seduce her beffie's
creepy boyfriend, make him fall for her and then make-out with him, all while
evading her own boyfriend - and what she sees in that one kiss will change
everything!

KISS & TELL is a 49,000 word YA novel that just won the Query Tracker logline
contest as well as an honorable mention in the most recent Miss Snark First
Pages contest. I've also recently been contacted by a scout for Warner Brother's
Pictures with interest in this book.

I live in Oxford, Mississippi (a big Southern writers' community, as you probably
know), and am a member of the SCBWI with a background in marketing and
advertising. Following is the first chapter. In addition to writing YA, I have
written several picture books, a graphic novel and a screenplay. If you need
anything further, please let me know.

Thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,

Katie
        Blog
        Website


Katie had multiple, multiple requests for more material with this query. And
she signed with Cheryl Pientka – one of two offers – in September, 2009.




                                                                                58
Lisa and Laura Roecker’s Full Query:
Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the
anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message
from Grace appeared in her inbox:

Kate,
I'm here…
sort of.
Find Christian.
He knows.
I shouldn't be writing.
Don't tell.
They'll hurt you.

Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

But Kate isn’t most girls.

Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s
pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite
teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous
turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother, almost gets
her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in
sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth. Armed with her newfound
sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of
their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.

Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is
more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

After all, everyone’s a suspect.

We are sisters-turned-writing-partners. FINDING GRACE is a 53,000 word YA
Mystery. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Lisa and Laura
      Blog
      Website


Lisa and Laura received three offers after using this query. They are repped by
Catherine Drayton, and their book sold to Sourcebooks in October, 2009.


                                                                                 59
My Full Query for CONTROL ISSUES:
Dear Ms. Andelman,

I believe you would be interested in my young adult novel, CONTROL ISSUES.

In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to
be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them
to pieces.

After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy,
gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the
Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word
either) and exiled to the Badlands—until she demonstrates her brainwashing
abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of
Directors.

Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy Bad boy
Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame ass sentence.

Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and
coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new
one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s
more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-
so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

A dystopian novel for young adults, CONTROL ISSUES is complete at 83,000
words. Fans of Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER and Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES
will enjoy similar elements, and a strong teen voice.

I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author of the
QueryTracker blog by night. If you would like to consider CONTROL ISSUES, I’d
be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you. I have included the first ten
pages of the manuscript in the body of this email.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Elana Johnson
      Blog
      Website



I received about 40 requests for more material with this query. I signed with
Michelle Andelman in November 2009.



                                                                                60
My Full Query for THE MIRROR:
Dear Agent,

I am pleased to submit for your consideration my young adult dark fantasy, THE
MIRROR. In this 95,000-word tale of magic, mystery and romance, sixteen-year-
old Annie Jenkins must control the magic to balance the realm. It's too bad her
unknown abilities are hidden beneath her inhalant addiction.

Whenever she's high, Annie has vivid visions of a death she can't remember and
a boy she's never met. When she meets Jonathan Clarke, the ghostly boy from
her hallucinations, she realizes her drug use has masked the abilities she's
inherited from her magic-keeping mother. Wielding magic isn't everything it's
cracked up to be; Annie discovers her newfound powers can't cure her terminally
ill mother.

Annie learns she has the rare power to bring immortal beings (Shadows) living in
another realm back into the human world. Jon has been searching for someone
with Annie’s Mirror power for a century. He's desperate for her to restart his
heart so he can become human again, but his Reflection can't be completed until
she balances the magic. Their problems double when she learns there are evil
Shadows who plan to kill her and take control of the realm. One of Jon's old
friends is leading the resistance and attempts to recruit him, while Annie
discovers one of her friends is really working against her. If Jon and Annie can't
find a way to achieve balance, Reflections and potions won't do any good. There
is no spell to revive the dead.

Not just another ghost story, the Shadows in THE MIRROR bring a magical twist
to life beyond death. THE MIRROR will appeal to readers who enjoy the
paranormality of A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY, and also to those who fell in love
with the romance of TWILIGHT.

I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author to the
QueryTracker blog by night. If you would like to consider THE MIRROR, I'd be
happy to forward the complete manuscript at your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Elana Johnson


This query fetched me 12 fulls and a handful of partials.

The query is the gateway to getting an agent to read your manuscript! Take
your time on it.



                                                                                61
We’ve Reached The End
  So that’s it. I critique query letters for authors who purchase this ebook. I have
  created a blog—Query Ninja—as a companion resource for From the Query to
  the Call. With your purchase of this ebook, you may email me your query, and
  I’ll critique it for you. Critiques may be posted on my Query Ninja blog. If you’d
  rather not have yours posted, please specify that when you email.

  I present the information contained in this e-book at writing conferences. If you
  would like me to present at a writing conference near you, email the
  coordinators with my information and request that I present, or contact me
  directly if you are a conference coordinator and would like me to present at
  your writing conference.

  Now get back to work on perfecting your query. Or researching agents. Or
  formatting your submissions. Or better yet, preparing for that agent to call!

  Good luck!

  I’m always available to answer questions. Email me!

  Elana Johnson


                            ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:
            Special thanks to authors Leah Clifford, Michelle McLean, Lisa
             Roecker, Laura Roecker, Cole Gibsen, Katie Anderson, Jamie
             Harrington, Sara Tribble, Bethany Wiggins, Christine Fonseca,
             Beth Revis, and Rebecca Sutton.

            A million praises for Patrick MacDonald, creator of
             QueryTracker.net.

            A big shout out to QT blog buddies and girlfriends, Suzette Saxton,
             Mary Lindsey, Carolyn Kaufman and Heather Dyer.

            For encouragement and friendship, Suzette Saxton, Christine
             Fonseca, Amanda Bonilla, Windy Aphayrath and all my blogging
             buddies.




                                                                                  62
Works Cited
  Special thanks and appreciation to the following for permission to use
  their work/ideas in this ebook.

  Websites:
  Kaufman, Carolyn. Archetype Writing: The Fiction Writer’s Guide to
  Psychology. Archetype Writing. February 2009. Web. 2 September, 2009.

  McDonald, Patrick. QueryTracker.net., 31 May 2009. Web. 31 May 2009



  Blogs:
  Dyer, H.L. “You’re A Writer; You Need A Reader.” Weblog posting.
  QueryTracker.net. 4 March 2009. Blogger. 28 August 2009.
  http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/03/youre-writer-you-need-
  reader.html.

  Kaufman, Carolyn. “The Call, Part II – Questions to Ask.” Weblog posting.
  Querytracker.net. 1 April 2009. Blogger. 13 June 2009.
  http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/04/call-part-ii-questions-to-ask.html.

  McLean, Michelle. “Defining Genres: Where Does Your Book Fit?” Weblog
  posting. QueryTracker.net. 29 April 2009. Blogger. 9 July 2009.
  http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/04/defining-genres-where-does-your-
  book.html.

  Revis, Beth. “Organizing Submissions” Weblog posting. writing it out. 28
  August 2009. Blogger. 28 August 2009.
  http://bethrevis.blogspot.com/2009/08/organizing-submissions.html.




                                                                             63
Interviews:
Clifford, Leah. Email interview. 21 March 2009.

Fonseca, Christine. Email interview. 30 August 2009.

Gibsen, Cole. Email interview. 21 March 2009.

McLean, Michelle. Email interview. 30 August 2009.

Roecker, Laura. Email interview. 21 March 2009.

Roecker, Lisa. Email interview. 21 March 2009.

Wiggins, Bethany. Email interview. 31 August 2009.



Email Communication:
Anderson, Katie. “Um, random.” Email to Elana Johnson. 15 May 2009.

Harrington, Jamie. “(no subject).” Email to Elana Johnson. 13 May 2009.

McLean, Michelle. “Ebook.” Email to Elana Johnson. 15 May 2009.

Roecker, Lisa and Laura. “Um, random.” Email to Elana Johnson. 15 May
2009.

Sutton, Rebecca. “me and my pain in the butt query, already.” Email to Elana
Johnson. 22 May 2009.

Tribble, Sara. “Possible Help?” Personal message to Elana Johnson. 17 June
2009.




                                                                             64

				
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