This new 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.
Dear Mr. Bourret:
I’m seeking representation for Janie Hannagan: Dream Catcher, a 33,000-word paranormal novel for young adults. I see from your website that you represent YA fiction, and I wonder if this would be a good fit for your list.
For 17-year-old Janie Hannagan, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is growing tiresome. Especially the falling dreams. The naked-but-nobody-notices dreams. And the sex-crazed teenager dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her half a lifetime.
But then there are the nightmares that leave her blind and paralyzed in fear, even after the dreams are over. Those are the worst. Because one day, someone’s going to notice her freefalling to the floor after somebody’s study hall naptime nightmare, or collapsing outside a resident’s room at the nursing home where she works. Or her worst fear: careening headlong into a tree if she ever drives past that house again.
She can’t tell anybody about it. They’d never believe her. And she can't do anything to stop it. Until she gets to know Cable, a secretive pothead flunkie turned pretty boy. And he accidentally falls into a dream with her on the senior high bus to Stratford.
It’s his own dream.
And it’s a dream he’d rather no one know about.
Especially Janie Hannagan.
My credits include a $10,000 Templeton award for an international short-story contest, and short story contained in Literary Mama: Reading for the Maternally Inclined (Seal Press), Pindeldyboz, Snow Monkey, Gator Springs Gazette and The Binnacle, among others. I’m a former children’s bookstore manager. Now I write full time. Janie’s next story is in the works.
Thanks for your time and consideration. I’ve pasted a few pages below. May I send you the complete manuscript?
Commentary From Michael
It’s not often that a query really gets my attention. It’s even rarer that a query makes me stop what I’m doing and beg the author for the manuscript. When I came across Lisa McMann’s query for Dream Catcher (which would become Wake, from Simon Pulse), I knew I had to have it.
Although the opener wasn’t necessary, the rest of the query was clear, concise and compelling. That first line of description was perfect, and I knew from that one line that the concept was great. From there, the writing really drew me in; it was different, unusual and, as I suspected, reflective of the book.
Between the great writing and the fascinating concept, I was hooked. Less than a week later, Lisa was a client (after I wrestled her away from several other eagar agents), and nearly three years later, she’s a New York Times best-selling author. Her second book, Fade (Wake Book II), hit shelves in February. The third book in the series, Gone, comes out in Feb. 2010.
This post about agents was
pulled from the current issue of Writer's
Digest (Sept. 2009) Order it online
to see more queries as well as our exclusive
list of 24 Agents Who Want Your Work.