Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Luck + Persistance + Heart = Success! (or Query On My Wayward Son)

Tip of the Day: When your day job suddenly involves more walking than sitting and you can no longer reach everything you need by swiveling in your spinny rolly chair, make sure to update your footwear accordingly.

If my agent hadn't just happened to be diving into more kidlit at the time I queried her, would she still have signed me?

I hope so! :)

But sometimes if you have what an agent/editor is looking for and don't even know it when you query them, then yes, you can totally chalk it up to luck when they jump all over your work.


But your work ALSO must deliver in its pages. A kick-ass query is all well and good, but you're done and rejected if you follow it up with a not-so-hot novel. I should know. That was what happened with my novel #2. Ooops.

But I'm older (don't remind me!) and wiser (lay it on thick!) now! Actually I think now my novels are better than my queries -- ha! What do you think? Here's the query that snagged me my agent -- I think it's OK, but between my pages and what Chris was looking for at the time, it was also partial luck.

Dear Agent:

Because of your interest in historical and YA fiction, I thought to query you on my 48,000-word YA novel, SOMETHING STRANGE ON STAFF ROAD.

When 13-year-old Joanie Patcherson’s doctor Dad is fired from his job, the family is forced to move to the grounds of an insane asylum. While exploring the creepy community, Joanie, her brother, and their new neighbors discover Anna, a telekinetic healing girl who’s locked in the hospital. Anna’s doctors and mother are determined to make her “normal” and they prescribe a lobotomy as her cure, but Joanie can't let that happen: she needs Anna to use her healing powers to save Mom and her unborn baby. Joanie must break Anna out of the asylum, but she can't get caught – or else Dad will be fired, Mom's baby could die, and their family will be homeless again. And Anna won’t have a mind to save.

I have a BS in creative writing, an MLS with a focus on YA materials, am an active member of SCBWI, and look forward to a career in writing for kids and teens. My WIPs include a contemporary paranormal YA, and a contemporary realistic MG. Please let me know if you would like to see additional materials, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Deena, Miss Recently Repped


Emily Marshall said...

Deena, I think this is a good query. I don't think I've seen this query/hook before (how on earth did that happen?), or I did and I don't remember it. But yeah, you're right sometimes it's being with the right agent at the right time.

Kate Fall said...

Deena, I'm glad you included the last paragraph. I really stress over that bio paragraph and it's helpful to see other people's.

I think this is a great hook. The stakes couldn't be higher and you hint at both setting and character. I see you started with "When"! I'll have to remember that one, ladies.

Kristina Springer said...

Good query Deena! I'm posting mine tomorrow. :-)

DeenaML said...

Em, you might not have seen this version, but your help on crafting my query definitely went into this one.

Kate, yeah, the bio seems like it's there mostly for the sake of interest in the person rather than judging the quality of the work.

Tina, I don't know if I saw your ESPRESSOLOGIST query before? Maybe I did?

Emily Marshall said...

Yeah Kate, the "when" start sentence does wonders. Seriously.

And Deena, I thought so. I'm excited to see more. I like this query talk.

dping said...

Thanks for getting Kansas stuck in my head. Great alternate title for the post anyhow.

Ghost Girl (aka, Mary Ann) said...

Can't wait to buy your book! I like your bio info. That's always an awkward step for me, and it's good to see how others slip it in there.

Yep...Kansas in my head, too!

Lisa Schroeder said...

Wow, your book sounds so good!

Thanks for sharing!