Successful Queries: Agent Catherine Drayton and "The Liar Society"

This series is called "Successful Queries" and I'm posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked. The 48th installment in this series is with agent Catherine Drayton (Inkwell Management) and her authors, Lisa and Laura Roecker, for their forthcoming YA novel, The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire, March 1, 2011).
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This series is called "Successful Queries" and I'm posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked.

The 48th installment in this series is with agent Catherine Drayton (Inkwell Management) and her authors, Lisa and Laura Roecker, for their forthcoming YA novel, The Liar Society (Sourcebooks Fire, March 1, 2011).

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Dear Ms. Drayton,

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. THE LIAR SOCIETY is a 53,000 word YA Mystery. We have pasted the first chapter below for your consideration. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you.

Lisa and Laura Roecker

Commentary from Catherine:

As an agent I have made a practice of reading all my own query letters. After thirteen years in the business, you can quickly recognize a writer with potential. Lisa and Laura’s query leaped the first hurdle as they had formatted their query in the correct manner—it simply makes queries easier to read and shows the author has done their research about the industry.

The opening paragraph is dramatic and the reader is immediately drawn into the mystery. Their short, clipped sentences are carefully chosen and show an understanding of creating suspense. It is clear from the query letter that Kate is a strong character with attitude. They haven’t complicated the query letter with too many plot points but focused on the protagonist and her sidekicks. They also exhibited an ability to write in a voice appropriate for a teenage girl. I liked the ironic Nancy Drew reference as it showed they had thought about where their novel would fit in the marketplace and I knew that at the time a number of editors had expressed an interest in mysteries.

I was happy to read a sample in the body of the e-mail and found their website enormously persuasive. It showed creativity and imagination—Lisa and Laura looked like they’d be great to work with which has proved correct!

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This post is an online exclusive complement
to a spotlight on Lisa & Laura in a forthcoming
issue of WD. If you don't have a sub to
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