Sunday, January 15, 2012

Query Letters

Some say Tomato, some say Tomaahto. Some say they love it, some say they hate it. Rejection, acceptance, constructive criticism and flagrant hate-speech.

No one tells you when you decide to be a writer that a short 250 of your words will elicit such heated and life-changing responses. I'm talking, of course, about the Query Letter.

For those of you who don't know, the Query Letter is the first (usually the only) bit of your writing that an agent or editor will ever read.

What is that you say? What about that book you just spent two years writing? Oh, well, no. They won't read ANY of that unless they LOVE your Query Letter. So, no, you don't just send off your book and hope they love it. You have to first write a Query about your book and send that off. If someone likes what you have to say about your book, they may ask to read the first few pages, chapters or the entire manuscript.

The problem with this is that everyone has their own opinions and therefore, one person may say that your Query letter was the worst piece of crap that ever squatted in their inbox while someone else might request the full manuscript based on that same turd.

One morning I received an email from an agent saying that she thought my Query letter for A Life Beyond Yesterday could be stronger and would have requested my manuscript if she liked the query better. The next message in my inbox was from an editor excitedly requesting my full manuscript for review. Like I said, tomato/tomaahto.

You can spend all day over at Query Shark, which is an awesome blog about the do's and don'ts of the Query Letter. In fact, you should spend time reviewing sites such as Query Shark but eventually, you have to write that Query and then you have to... (whispers) send it to an agent and/or editor.

Below is the Query Letter for the book I currently have out for submission.

Agent Name,

Please consider representing my Urban Fantasy novel, a first-in-series, SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL.

When Elaina moves to the small town of Yellow Springs, Ohio and takes over her recently deceased parents’ home, she assumes life will be fairly mundane. She soon learns her mother’s life was steeped in secrets, and there’s something unusual about Yellow Springs and its residents.

When Elaina finds herself with a homicidal Pixie on her shoulder and two mesmerizing—no, irritating male Elves, she wonders how she’ll survive this new, complicated life.

A war’s brewing between the malevolent Zentry Elves and the “good” Solar Elves, and the two men in her life have unwittingly put her smack in the middle. Plus, Elaina’s mother’s supernatural debt comes due and Elaina’s forced to pay with her freedom. She’s saddled with the title of “Jai-All”, a position with immeasurable responsibility and daunting power. As the Jai-All, it’s assumed she’ll remain neutral…and celibate. But Elaina never asked to be some trumped-up fairy godmother, and she sure as hell never signed a contract eliminating any future love life.

Now, Elaina has to decide what she’ll do when the battle explodes between the two clans and which side she’ll take—all while dealing with her new powers of Jai-All, which seem to be manifesting at random.

Set in the real-life town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, SURPRISINGLY SUPERNATURAL is the first in a series of Urban Fantasy novels with strong romantic elements and is complete at approx. 90,000 words. Below, you will find a synopsis and sample pages.

My first novel, A LIFE BEYOND YESTERDAY, is currently scheduled to be released by Eternal Press in February, 2012.

I appreciate your time and consideration.

S.J. Drum
Member, RWA
SJ Drum Website