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Successful Queries: Agent Jessica Watterson and "The Heir and the Spare"

The 75th installment in this series is with agent Jessica Watterson (Sandra Dijkstra Literary) for Emily Albright's young adult novel, The Heir and the Spare (Jan. 2016, Merit Press).

This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting these query letter samples, we will also get to hear thoughts from the writer's literary agent as to why the letter worked.

The 75th installment in this series is with agent Jessica Watterson (Sandra Dijkstra Literary) for Emily Albright's young adult novel, The Heir and the Spare (Jan. 2016, Merit Press). Booklist states that "Readers ... will appreciate this debut, which confidently combines royalty, romance, and mystery."

About Emily: Emily Albright is a major bookworm, a lover of romantic movies, a Netflix junkie, a wife, a mother, and an owner of one adorable (yet slightly insane) cockapoo and one very tolerant cat. Her debut young adult novel, The Heir and the Spare, is available now from Merit Press. Her series continues with Preston's story, Everyday Magic.

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Emily Albright

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The Heir and the Spare by Emily Albright

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The Query

Dear Jessica Watterson,

Family isn’t just complicated, it’s confusing. Especially when they aren’t who they claim to be. Evie Gray is shocked to discover her deceased mother had a secret identity. And no, not one involving a cape, it’s worse. Much worse. Her mom could’ve worn a tiara.

In this modern day fairytale, Evie uncovers the past by diving into her future. Attending Oxford University, her mother’s old stomping grounds, she meets a real life prince charming, Edmund. Although he’s already attached, their friendly attraction proves a royal pain, especially since he’s helping her unravel the clues her mother left behind in a series of letters. What really ends up unraveling is her heart. Evie realizes her mom’s past opens doors she never thought possible. Will she be able to handle her mom’s secret and the changes it brings? Will Edmund be able to weather this storm with her? Or will Evie lose everything?

THE HEIR AND THE SPARE is a new adult novel, complete at 93,000 words.

Readers who enjoyed Anna and The French Kiss will enjoy THE HEIR AND THE SPARE. It embraces the same feel good charm as The Princess Diaries, but a bit edgier for the new adult reader. I hold a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from the University of Oregon. This is my first novel and I’m seeking representation. Please note this is a simultaneous submission. Per your submission guidelines I’ve pasted the first fifteen pages, a brief synopsis, and a bio. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Emily Albright

Commentary from Jessica Watterson

The first thing that struck me about Emily’s query was how conversational, yet professional it was. I loved the first sentence tying family into royalty (which is a huge part of the book!) and overall was just very intrigued by the premise. I also really loved the tone of the query, as it captured perfectly the tone of what is THE HEIR AND THE SPARE, a light and fun romance that definitely rings true of both Stephanie Perkins and The Princess Diaries.

I was looking for a fun and breezy book that would just be the perfect read to get away from all the drama of everyday life, and entering into a world where the impossibility of breaching the English Royal Family (for us Americans anyways) was the answer that I didn’t realize I was looking for. Plus, in all seriousness, I would love to have my own crown and title.

It also helped that Emily is a kick-butt writer and her opening pages sucked me in and didn’t let me go. Overall what Emily had here were the perfect ingredients that go into a query: all of the vital information I need about the book, comps, word count, and a snappy intro to make me want to read more, while also maintaining a professionalism that I really look for in query letters.

2nd draft query letter

Whether you are an experienced writer looking to improve the elements within your query letter or a new writer looking for pointers on to write a query letter, our 2nd Draft Query Letter Critique Service provides the advice and feedback you need to improve your query letter.

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