A Successful Query Letter

Me with Mary Kole in Los Angeles :)

(I am cross-posting this with the BRAVE NEW WORDS blog since it might actually be helpful to post my query letter on my own blog)

Since I previously blogged rather ecstatically HERE about signing with Mary Kole, I thought I’d focus this Agent Story post on the query letter that set my publication journey in motion. I hadn’t looked at my query since late last year when I signed with Mary, and I had no idea re-reading it would fill me with all of the same dread and anxiety it did when I originally sent it! Query Letter Stomachache is apparently not a curable condition.

That said, before you read it, I feel the need to put out a few disclaimers (which may also serve as warnings for those still in the trenches):

1) I sound completely stuffed. I was trying to be business-like and professional, and I think I succeeded, but ZERO personality shines through in this letter. Yes, Mary offered representation anyway, and I realize there’s a delicate balance between personality and weirdo, but use your best judgment.

2) THROUGH TO YOU is really not a paranormal novel. At the time I was very much under the impression “science fiction” was still a dirty word in YA. A lot has changed in nine months. If I queried today I might call it “light sci-fi,” a term I heard more than once at SCBWI this summer.

3) THROUGH TO YOU is also not magical realism! I realized that after I read IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma. If you want magical realism, read her book! My use of the term is further evidence of me being “sci-fi” phobic.

4) Note the previous rejection and lack of any publication credits (okay, to be fair, I did have an article published in a dog grooming magazine, but that was notrelevant). Everyone gets rejected and everyone has to get their first publication somewhere. Mary offered representation because she liked THIS book.

All right, with all of that aside, I feel slightly less embarrassed posting this for the entire internet to see:

 

Dear Ms. Kole,

I was in touch with you last year about a previous novel, [REDACTED], at which time you encouraged me to submit other work to you in the future. I thought you might be interested in my latest YA paranormal novel, THROUGH TO YOU. It is complete at 59,000 words.

The day eighteen-year-old Camden Pike sees a ghost is the day he assumes he’s finally lost it. For the last two months, he’s been torturing himself over why he walked away from the car accident that killed his girlfriend, Viv. She was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after an injury ended his football career, and picking up the pieces when his home life shattered. With Viv at his side, his pain was manageable–she was all that mattered. He’d give anything for one glimpse of her again. But now there’s a ghost…and it isn’t her.

Cam quickly realizes the apparition, Nina, is not a ghost at all. She’s a girl from another world–one where Cam was the one who died, and Viv is alive and well. Once he learns this, all he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But the accident isn’t the only thing different about this other world–Viv and Cam both made very different choices here that changed things between them. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets and the window between the worlds isshrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, he’s forced to choose–stay with her, or let her go–before the window closes between them once and for all.

THROUGH TO YOU is a book that explores themes of unhealthy relationships and the power of choices within a magical realist atmosphere. Per your submissions guidelines, I have included the first ten pages below. A full manuscript is available upon request. I am currently querying other agents at this time. I appreciate you taking the time to consider my work.

 

Sincerely,

Emily Hainsworth

 

Post-SCBWI (made you look)

I know I promised a post after SCBWI, and that is still COMING!

However, I have a few other things going down (including a teensy weensy looming deadline) and I want to make that post as epic as the experience it will detail, so…please stay tuned. I met so many amazing people and had such great experiences—I even remembered to take some pictures!

So the post-SCBWI post (um…) will have to be fashionably late, but it will be coming to you from Hollywood, so that’s okay, of course!

In the meantime, I suggest everyone go over to Goodreads and add Courtney Summers‘s latest novel, THIS IS NOT A TEST. Because she just released what it’s about today, and I haven’t seen so many people on Twitter hit the ceiling in a long time! If you like Courtney’s raw, contemporary novels where people are their own worst enemies and you never see the twists coming until you find yourself muttering ohnoshedidn’t…take all of that…and ADD ZOMBIES.

I cannot wait for this book to come out!  :)

(full disclosure: Courtney is my critique partner—but that just means I know TINAT is awesome)

Okay seriously now, SCBWI coming ASAP!

A really brief post about super exciting things…

So I have been insanely busy for many reasons (some personal, some business, but for the most part I have been in The Edit Cave). BUT I wanted to pop in here for a quick update before I leave my gorgeous city, Denver, for wild and exotic Los Angeles!

I will be attending the 40th Annual SCBWI summer conference (Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators) — if you’re going to be there, please say hello! I’m *cough* working on my shyness, so this might be the only way I get to meet anyone.

;)

I’ve been to one other SCBWI conference two years ago in New York. It was overwhelming to say the least, even then. This time it will be overwhelming AND I get to meet the following people: A huge number of fellow 2012 debut authors The Apocalypsies, Nova Ren Suma (okay, we’ve met before, but I’m so excited to see her again!), Mary Kole (my agent), Alessandra Balzer (my editor), Michelle Weiner (my film agent), among many other overwhelmingly awesome people.

And while I’m on the subject of L.A. and Hollywood, I am so excited to share this:

This is the trailer for a little Sundance hit called LIKE CRAZY, which should be in theaters in October. A few months back I wrote another exciting post about my book, THROUGH TO YOU, being optioned for film. Director Drake Doremus and writer Ben York Jones are two of the people I’ve been told are interested in making this happen, and they are also two of the people responsible for LIKE CRAZY. I have only seen the trailer at this point, but now that I’ve watched it three or four times…the thought of the filmmakers behind THIS trailer even considering turning THROUGH TO YOU into a film gives me the most unbelievably wonderful chills.

More updates post-SCBWI!

~*~