Skip to main content

Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and "The Daedalus Incident"

This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letter examples that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. The 61st installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary Agency) for author Mike Martinez's Fantasy/Steampunk novel THE DAEDALUS INCIDENT (May 7, 2013; Nightshade Books).

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 61st installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (KT Literary Agency) for author Mike Martinez's Fantasy/Steampunk novel The Daedalus Incident (May 7, 2013; Nightshade Books).

9781597804721_p0_v1_s260x420

Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

Dear Ms. Megibow,

Allow me to pull you away from your BookExpo duties, your reading and agenting and all that stuff. Allow me to put you on the quarterdeck of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate. The wind’s at your back, the crew’s bustling about you and the currents are in your favor.

Your destination…Mars.

Incredulous? That’s how Lt. Shaila Jain felt when, in 2132, her explorations of Mars uncovered the personal journal of Royal Navy Lt. Thomas Weatherby, late of HMSDaedalus. In that 1779 diary, she found a tale of intrigue, murder, occult science and swashbuckling adventure – a story that echoed the real-life mysteries that had come to surround the red planet

THE DAEDELUS INCIDENT is a completed 80,000-word novel combining 22nd century science-fiction with 18th century historical fantasy*, in which both Jain and Weatherby are drawn into the mad schemes of a quantum physicist and a renegade alchemist, schemes that could unleash an ancient evil upon not one, but two universes.

I’ve been a journalist and writer for 17 years, with four non-fiction books to my credit; this is my first novel. I have two others mapped out in the same setting, as well as a possible prequel set in the Elizabethan area. I’ve queried you because your blog has been a great resource in my quest to see my work published, and I think you might enjoy the genre-bending setting I’m trying to pull off here.

Thanks for taking the time to review my query. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mike Martinez

*Despite calling this book “historical fantasy,” neither Jane Austen nor her works were harmed in the writing of this novel, contrary to the current literary zeitgeist. However, your maritime agency namesake, Horatio Nelson, does make a cameo...!

Feedback from Agent Sara Megibow:

This query letter made me laugh with its quirky personality and I love the image of a navy frigate sailing through space engaging in epic adventures. So, this one got elevated to must-read-asap for me. Please note, if Mike had said "the crew had epic adventures," I would have passed outright as it's is a weak (and unfortunately commonly-used) phrase for a query letter. But, in addition to its fun hook, this query is packed with style and flair.

To be fair, the query has more narrative voice than actual plot points. But, I'm looking for great storytelling and the quality of writing here shows me this author knows how to spin a yarn (and boy was I right on that one!) The line, "Jain and Weatherby are drawn into the mad schemes of a quantum physicist and a renegade alchemist" isn't as strong as I'd like to see. But, the query was still strong enough for me to ask to see the manuscript. (For reference, this is what we ended up using as back cover copy: "With the aid of his fierce captain, a drug-addled alchemist, and a servant girl with a remarkable past, Weatherby must track a great and powerful mystic, who has embarked upon a sinister quest to upset the balance of the planets.")

Mike and I went on to sell this book to Night Shade Books, and the final manuscript is much like this original query—fun, energetic, full of adventure, and set in a unique world of flying naval ships. Well done, Mike! So glad we're off on this adventure of publishing together!

*****

Ready to send out your query? Get a critique!

Image placeholder title

Are you done writing and revising your manuscript or nonfiction book proposal? Then you’re ready to write a query letter. In order to ensure you make the best impression on literary agents and acquisitions editors, we recommend getting a 2nd Draft Query Letter Critique.

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

Click to continue.

Tags
terms:
Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Not Having an Online Presence

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is not having an online presence.

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Shirlene Obuobi: On Writing From Experience

Physician, cartoonist, and author Shirlene Obuobi discusses the writerly advice that led to writing her new coming-of-age novel, On Rotation.

WD Poetic Form Challenge

WD Poetic Form Challenge: Kimo Winner

Learn the winner and Top 10 list for the Writer’s Digest Poetic Form Challenge for the kimo.

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

8 Things Writers Should Know About Tattoos

Tattoos and their artists can reveal interesting details about your characters and offer historical context. Here, author June Gervais shares 8 things writers should know about tattoos.

Tyler Moss | Reporting Through Lens of Social Justice

Writing Through the Lens of Social Justice

WD Editor-at-Large Tyler Moss makes the case for reporting on issues of social justice in freelance writing—no matter the topic in this article from the July/August 2021 issue of Writer's Digest.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Intentional Trail

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have a character leave clues for people to find them.

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Sharon Maas: On Books Finding the Right Time

Author Sharon Maas discusses the 20-year process of writing and publishing her new historical fiction novel, The Girl from Jonestown.

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

6 Steps to Becoming a Good Literary Citizen

While the writing process may be an independent venture, the literary community at large is full of writers who need and want your support as much as you need and want theirs. Here, author Aileen Weintraub shares 6 steps in becoming a good literary citizen.

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Daniel Paisner: On the Pursuit of a Creative Life

Journalist and author Daniel Paisner discusses the process of writing his new literary fiction novel, Balloon Dog.