Friday, April 23, 2010


So finally here is Michelle’s fiction query. Unfortunately I had to work over night last night so I’m not going to be able to add much to it. See my post from earlier for more information.

I will quickly remind any of you who haven’t already done so to visit Michelle Mclean’s blog and become a follower. Speaking of which if you’re not already following me here you should do that as well.

So without further ado, her query:

Dear Agent,

I am pleased to submit for your consideration, TREASURED LIES, complete at 97,000 words. In this romantic suspense novel, set in Victorian England, young Minuette Sinclair is swept into an illicit affair with a reformed thief, Bryant Westley, and becomes entangled in the search for a priceless necklace with a bloody past.

Most of the time, this was my opening paragraph. However, sometimes I’d personalize it with a “I read in your recent interview at such and such a place that you were interested in historical romances so I’d like to submit for your review my romantic suspense novel. Set in Victorian England…” or “I am an avid follower of your blog and read there that…”.

Michelle makes a great point here. Anything you can do to prove that you spent time researching the agent will certainly not hurt.

Instead of having too many tags for my genre, I left it as romantic suspense, since the setting makes it obvious this is also historical. I also wanted to start with a hook line to lead into the main body of my query…which is a bit long. However, with romances, the story often focuses on both members of the couple, so I have a paragraph for each character.

I would have to agree that the setting is quite clear. I also love the character names, especially Minuette, and they seem fit the setting very well.

When Bryant’s former associate in crime, Lord Rellik, commands him to steal the famed Courtland necklace in exchange for his family's lives, Bryant reluctantly agrees to return to his criminal profession. Tracking the elusive necklace, he accepts a position at Miss Courtland’s Boarding and Finishing school. A distraction, in the form of the quirky and beautiful Minuette Sinclair, is the last thing Bryant needs. But Min becomes a temptation too strong to resist, and Bryant will do anything to keep her in his life.

The moment Min meets Bryant, the handsome new dance instructor at her school, she is instantly captivated and soon in love, even after learning of his dark past and uncertain future. Min joins him in his quest to find the jewels that will buy his freedom and save his mother and sister. Their passionate devotion sustains them as they struggle through the mystery surrounding the infamous gems. However, when the impatient Rellik fears he has been double-crossed, a horrific murder attempt forces Min and Bryant to separate until they can find a way to vanquish Rellik for good.

This is a bit long, and I’ve tried on subsequent projects to keep my queries shorter, but this did all fit on one page, so I didn’t stress over it too much. And it got me quite a few requests, so it couldn’t have been too bad.

I’m no expert when it comes to romance novels, historical, suspense or otherwise but the separate paragraphs for the two main characters works for me.

TREASURED LIES would be enjoyed by anyone who loves a good romance with a hearty side of mystery. My writing is aided by a BS in History, a MA in English, my membership in RWA National, RWA Chapter #136, and two online critique groups. I have also been published in three recent Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

I didn’t really have any specific books in mind to compare mine with, but I did want to give the agents an idea of who would be interested in my book. As for the bio, since this was my first book, I didn’t really have much to list, so I listed everything that was even slightly relevant. My publications are NF, but I mentioned them anyways.

We would have to ask an agent how much this kind of things helps for fiction, but I’m pretty confident it wouldn’t hurt. Especially considering Michelle’s bio and the fact that she is published are no small feat.

I would be happy to send you a partial or the complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.


Michelle McLean

I sent this letter out 97 times, received 22 requests, and eventually shelved the project. I signed with Krista Goering a year later for a NF project and am currently revamping this story into a YA paranormal for her review.

And that’s it. Sorry I couldn’t give a more thoughtful analysis for this but between being awake for 24 hours and feeling a little outclassed by Michelle’s expertise and experience I did the best I could.

Please remember to visit Michelle’s blog and her website to learn more about her.

Also please be sure to let us know in the comments what you think. Unfortunately I’ll be sleeping all day today, so I won’t have time to get to all of your blogs until this evening. As always thanks so much for visiting and a very big thanks to Michelle for sharing both her queries with us.


JustineDell said...

Whoa, you redoing the story in a paranormal? That's no small feat. How are you doing that? I mean, what type of paranormal factors are you adding to the plot?

I wrote a romantic suspense as my first novel and I have to say, I think they are hard. As matter of fact, I mentioned it on my blog today.

Hopefully you find success with this story too because it's sounds interesting. I've always found romantic historicals to be captivating for some reason and yours sounds no different.

Thanks for sharing!


Michelle McLean said...

Hi Justine :) I'm adding a quirky ghost character - and you are right, it's a lot harder than I thought it would be :) In fact, it's sort of turning into a total rewrite just using the same characters. Part of me is excited because I am having fun with the new storyline, and part of me is sad because I loved the old one so much. Since it is turning into such a different story, I may just make it a totally separate story and try again with this in it's original form a bit later.

I got really close several times and a few agents ended up passing only because of the market or because they had something similar already. Those are both issues that will change with time, so :) this may make another appearance yet :)

Candyland said...

Wow! What a story! I love that you're re-vamping! So awesome. Good luck with it:)

Tracy said...

Michelle, good luck with your re-write ... or new story from an old idea!

Just curious. Is your story written in first person or third?

Bish Denham said...

These letters are very insightful. I appreciate your sharing Michelle

Jaydee Morgan said...

Thanks for sharing and good luck with the re-write!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks for sharing this Michelle and Matt. That sounds like a book i'd really enjoy and your query sounded very professional!

Michelle McLean said...

Thanks everyone!

Tracy, the original book is in third person. The revamp is in first.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Great post. Can't believe you are re-writing it for the YA market, that is cool. Good luck Michelle.
And Matthew, get lots of sleep:)

Kimber said...

Thanks for sharing and good luck with the re-write!

Angie Paxton said...

Matthew, I look forward every Friday to this guest post and your input. I gave you an award on my blog.

Michelle, thanks for sharing your query. I started following your blog and asked you this over there, but what led to your decision to initially shelve this project, especially as you were getting request on it?

Michelle McLean said...

Thanks Lindsey, Kimber and Angie :)

I wrote Angie a long, rambling answer LOL but the short version to her question is because I had already done a couple rounds of queries on this book (pre-crit groups and major revisions) and received some requests (and rejections). All in all, I sent well around 150 queries and had pretty much contacted every agent I cared to. Some of them more than once (often with better results the second time - however, I only did this when it had been 6 months to a year since the first contact and after major revisions).

Plus, the rejections I was getting from agents mostly sited the market or similar books on their list - not stuff I could really do anything about, and things that might, with time, change.

So, for now it's shelved/being revamped. And hopefully I'll get just as many requests with more luck in the future :)

beth said...

Oh--I find it most intriguing that she's revamping it into a paranormal. Very cool!

Kathy McIntosh said...

Liked the query, loved the comments from both of you. This is my first visit, so perhaps that's standard but it's useful.
I agree that transforming into another genre must be grueling.
Since I'm in the query process, it's good to know what works.
Thanks so much.