Skip to main content

Successful Queries: Agent Lauren MacLeod and "Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings"

The best way to learn how to write a query is to read successful queries by other authors. In this post, agent Lauren MacLeod of The Strothman Agency shares what worked in Helene Boudreau's query for her YA novel, Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings.

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.

(Find more successful queries here.)

The 46th installment in this series is with agent Lauren MacLeod (The Strothman Agency) and her author, Helene Boudreau, for the YA novel, Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings—a book that The YA-5 called "Absolutely fresh and sweet, a quirky coming of age story."

Image placeholder title

Successful Query for Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings:

Dear Ms. MacLeod,

I am seeking literary representation and hope you will consider my tween novel, REAL MERMAIDS DON'T WEAR TOE RINGS.

First zit. First crush. First … mermaid's tail?

Jade feels like enough of a freak-of-nature when she gets her first period at almost fifteen. She doesn’t need to have it happen at the mall while trying on that XL tankini she never wanted to buy in the first place. And she really doesn’t need to run into Luke Martin in the Feminine Hygiene Products aisle while her dad Googles "menstruation" on his Blackberry.

But "freak-of-nature" takes on a whole new meaning when raging hormones and bath salts bring on another metamorphosis—complete with scales and a tail. And when Jade learns she’s inherited her mermaid tendencies from her late mother's side of the family, it raises the question: if Mom was once a mermaid, did she really drown that day last summer?

Jade is determined to find out. Though, how does a plus-sized, aqua-phobic mer-girl go about doing that, exactly ... especially when Luke from aisle six seems to be the only person who might be able to help?

REAL MERMAIDS DON’T WEAR TOE RINGS is a light-hearted fantasy novel for tweens (10-14). It is complete at 44,500 words and available at your request. The first ten pages and a synopsis are included below my signature. I also have a completed chapter book for boys (MASON AND THE MEGANAUTS), should that be of interest to you. This manuscript has received a revision request from editor, Kathy Tucker, from Albert Whitman & Company.

My middle grade novel, ACADIAN STAR, was released last fall by Nimbus Publishing and has been nominated for the 2009/2010 Hackmatack Children’s Choice Book Award. I have three nonfiction children's books with Crabtree Publishing to my credit (one forthcoming) as well as an upcoming early chapter book series. My writing received an Honourable Mention in the 2008 Surrey International Writers' Conference literary competition (Writing for Young People) and I was recently awarded a juried literary grant from the Ontario Arts Council.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this project.

Kind regards,

Hélène Boudreau
www.heleneboudreau.com

*****

Fearless Writing William Kenower

In this workshop we’ll look at several techniques you can you use to keep yourself in the creative flow and out of the trouble and misery fear always causes.

Click to continue.

*****

Commentary from Lauren:

One of the things that can really make a query letter stand out is a strong voice, and it seems that is one of the things writers struggle with the most. Hélène, however, knocked it out of the park with her query letter. I find young readers are very sensitive to inauthentic voices, but you can tell by just the first few paragraphs that she is going to absolutely nail the tween voice in the manuscript—you can see this even by the way she capitalized Feminine Hygiene Products.

The first time I read this query I actually did laugh out loud. Instead of merely promising me RMDWTR was funny (which it absolutely is), Hélène showed me how funny she can be, which made me want to request the manuscript even before I got to her sample pages.

I also loved how clearly and with just a few words she could evoke an entire scene. Hélène doesn’t tell us Jade gets embarrassed in front of a local hunk, she plops us right down in the middle of the pink aisle with the well-intentioned but hopelessly nerdy Dad. I felt this really spoke to her talents—if she could bring bits of a query to life, I couldn’t wait to see what she could do with a whole manuscript.

(20 Literary Agents Actively Seeking Writers and Their Writing.)

And on top of all of this, she had a phenomenal title, a bio that made it very clear she was ready to break out, and a hook so strong it even made it onto the cover!

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Next Steps

Here are the final steps for the 15th annual November PAD Chapbook Challenge! Use December and the beginning of January to revise and collect your poems into a chapbook manuscript. Here are some tips and guidelines.

Valeria Ruelas: On Teaching Tarot, Brujeria, and Witchcraft

Valeria Ruelas: On Teaching Tarot, Brujeria, and Witchcraft

Author Valeria Ruelas discusses the process of writing her new book, The Mexican Witch Lifestyle.

What Is the Hook, the Book, and Cook Query Pitching Technique for Writers?

What Is the Hook, the Book, and the Cook Query Pitching Technique for Writers?

Find out what "the hook, the book, and the cook" are in relation to writing query letters and pitching books to literary agents and book editors. This post answers the question of what each one is and how to successfully assemble the pieces.

Romance Retellings of Literary Classics

Romance Retellings of Literary Classics

Author Chloe Liese makes a case for the romance genre being the natural home for retellings, and shares some tips on how to write a successful romance retelling of literary classics.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 30

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. And now we're on Day 30.

Rae Meadows: On a Personal Passion Inspiring Literary Fiction

Rae Meadows: On a Personal Passion Inspiring Literary Fiction

Award-winning author Rae Meadows discusses how her lifelong love of gymnastics helped inspire her new literary novel, Winterland.

The Fae

The Fae

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character discovers that there are fae in their backyard.

November PAD Chapbook Challenge

2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Day 29

For the 2022 November PAD Chapbook Challenge, poets are tasked with writing a poem a day in the month of November before assembling a chapbook manuscript in the month of December. Day 29 features our fifth (and final) Two-for-Tuesday prompt.

From Script

A Twist on the Holiday Romantic Comedy (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, acclaimed filmmaker Charles Shyer shares with Script his twist on the holiday romantic comedy in his new film The Noel Diary, and more.