Successful Queries: Agent Miriam Kriss and "The Iron Witch"

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 52nd installment in this series is with agent Miriam Kriss (Irene Goodman Literary) for her author, Karen Mahoney, for the YA urban fantasy novel, The Iron Witch (Feb. 2011, Flux).
Author:
Publish date:

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 52nd installment in this series is with agent Miriam Kriss (Irene Goodman Literary) for her author, Karen Mahoney, for the YA urban fantasy novel, The Iron Witch (Feb. 2011, Flux).

Image placeholder title

Dear Ms. Kriss:

As you represent strong authors in the adult urban fantasy genre such as Vicki Pettersson and Lilith Saintcrow, and your agency's website also states an interest in Young Adult fiction, I thought you might be interested in seeing my contemporary fantasy novel for older YA readers, THE IRON WITCH.

Freak. That's what they called seventeen-year-old Dona Underwood in high school after a horrific fey attack that killed her father when she was just a child. Her injuries and subsequent rehabilitation resulted in magically enhanced strength, thanks to the iron tattoos branding her hands and arms.

Now, after ten years of wishing for a normal life, she finally has to accept her role in the centuries-old war against the darkest outcasts of Faerie. Aided by a gorgeous half-fey dropout and a depressed biker-chick vampire, Dona must race to save her best friend's life – even if it means betraying one of the world's greatest secrets and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family.

Although I am from London in the United Kingdom, I think my writing will find a more natural market in the United States. THE IRON WITCH is set in the imaginary city of Ironbridge in Western Massachusetts, and I hope it will appeal to readers of Melissa Marr and Holly Black. The novel is complete at 65,500 words and I have just begun work on another book set in the same world.

As per the current submission guidelines, I have pasted the first ten pages and a detailed synopsis below, and would be delighted to send the full manuscript at your request. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Karen Mahoney
Commentary from Miriam

For me this is a textbook example of an ideal cover letter. It's very clear she knows who I represent and
understands how it relates to her own project. She's not making grandiose claims and she's not making me feel this is generic letter she sends to everyone. Feeling people have done their homework is always a good thing.

The third paragraph gives a good sense of both the story's hook and its voice. That's a hard thing to capture in a couple of paragraphs, but if your synopsis doesn't do both, you're wasting an opportunity.

She shows that she knows the market and her place in it. She's explaining why a UK author would be looking for a US agent as her primary agent, which clarifies something that might be a point of confusion (i.e. she exhausted all UK leads). She's also showing she knows what an appropriate length for this genre is. The mention of a second book shows that she's in it for the long haul and that she plans a series, which is again is appropriate for this genre.

This is key, again showing her preparation. Since we as an agency prefer to see the writing before making a decision I'm very glad she included those pages, because it let me see how talented she was and how much I wanted to read the whole book. (The Iron Witch came out in Feb. 2011.)

Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.14 PM

Writing books/novels for kids & teens? There are hundreds
of publishers, agents and other markets listed in the
latest Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Buy it online at a discount.

April PAD Challenge

2021 April PAD Challenge: Guidelines

Announcing the 14th annual April Poem-A-Day Challenge on Poetic Asides. Here are the guidelines for this fun annual poeming challenge that starts on April 1.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Call for Submissions, Free Downloads, and more!

This week, we’re excited to announce a call for submissions to the WD Self-Published Book Awards, free resources for writers, and more!

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 28

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write a story using only dialogue.

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Nicole Galland: On Returning to Familiar Characters

Bestselling author Nicole Galland explains what it was like to dive into writing a series and how speculative fiction allows her to explore her interests.

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

6 Tools for Writing Nonfiction That Breathes

Nonfiction author Liz Heinecke gives her top 6 tips for crafting a nonfiction book that will really capture your subject.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 27

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write something that makes you laugh.

Poetic Forms

Ars Poetica: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ars poetica and the art of writing poems about poems.

Flash Fiction Challenge

2021 February Flash Fiction Challenge: Day 26

Write a piece of flash fiction each day of February with the February Flash Fiction Challenge, led by editor Moriah Richard. Each day, receive a prompt, example story, and write your own. Today's prompt is to write about an article of clothing.

Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 Authors Share Tips on Writing Mystery and Thriller Novels That Readers Love

23 authors share tips on writing mystery and thriller novels that readers love, covering topics related to building suspense, inserting humor, crafting incredible villains, and figuring out the time of death.