Today the amazing Roecker sisters Lisa and Laura are gracing us with their presence. They rock like a batholith so let's please take a moment to bask in their awesome ...
Now today unlike other guest Friday posts we have a rule: I promised to do all I could to help these twisted sisters reach 1000 followers ASAP. So because of that please stop reading now, go visit their blog, and become a follower. DO NOT READ ON until you have done so.
Just kidding, obviously I can't enforce that but seriously, their blog is so fun you have to read it, and if you're going to read it - why not follow?
They are sharing their query from: LIAR SOCIETY, a quick-witted mystery starring a private-school sleuth with attitude and pearls who receives an email from her dead best friend (Sourcebooks, Spring 2011).
Their agent Catherine Drayton has graciously agreed to allow their correspondence to be shared. If you wish to submit to her or Inkwell Management in general, please see their guidelines. Unfortunately the offer and further correspondence was done over the phone, so you'll have to ask Lisa and Laura to tell you about that.
This will work like all the other quest posts. My thoughts will be in red and LiLa's will be in blue. The only difference is that we won't know which sister is commenting, but that's fine since they're pretty much of one mind and it's more fun to guess anyway.
So on to their query. Be prepared to be shocked into ultimate query amazement syndrome - UQAS:
Dear Ms. Drayton,
Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox:
I shouldn't be writing.
They'll hurt you.
We knew we were kind of taking a risk including the email in our query, but we wanted to hook the reader. We played around with the format and finally decided on italicizing the text. I think it worked to grab a reader's attention and stand out from the crowd a bit. At least that's what we tell ourselves...
I think this is awesome. I read (and write a lot of bad) queries and I have never seen one like this. I've noticed a trend with many new novels containing either mixed media or innovative type of prose, letters, fictional blog posts, and so forth but I've never seen this kind of thing in a query. I think it's not only innovative but brilliant.
Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.
But Kate isn’t most girls.
Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.
One thing we've learned is to include your voice! No one wants to read a dry query for fear that the actual manuscript is dry too! Voice is what will separate your manuscript and while not everyone will respond to it (we're in the most subjective business ever), hopefully some agents will.
This is so TRUE. I want to shout about it because not only is it incredibly important, but it can be difficult to accomplish, at least it is for me. This is technically a business letter, so it feels counter intuitive to be colorful with the voice of your writing, but it really makes a difference. I know this sounds impossible - but have fun with your query.
The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous turn when her confrontation with Cameron, Grace’s addict boyfriend, almost gets her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth... Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.
This paragraph took a lot of reworking. We knew we needed a general plot overview without going into too much detail or introducing too many characters. This is SUCH a fine balance and while we unload a lot of information here, I think it's done in a way that is relatively straightforward. Well to us anyways.
I can't really speak to this. I mean my own queries are really bad at this part. The need to go over all the cool parts is so strong, but really doesn't help. I think Lisa and Laura do a great job here of setting up the conflict without giving too much away ... and introducing just enough setting and characters to give the agent an idea of what they'll be looking at. Remember: the point of a query is to get the agent to request pages.
Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.
After all, everyone’s a suspect.
We LOVE endings--chapter endings, ending-endings, you name it, we'll end it. Naturally, we wanted our query to end with a bang. We were hoping that agents couldn't NOT request. Now, that's a tall order (obviously) but a good goal.
This is great. Sure it's a little vague, but that's a good thing. It hints at adversaries without going into detail about each character the reader will have to guess about. And, it sets some pretty high stakes without giving too much away.
We are sisters-turned-writing-partners. LIAR SOCIETY is a 73,000 word YA Mystery. We have pasted the first chapter below for your consideration. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you.
Lisa and Laura Roecker
We pasted the entire first chapter into the body of the e-mail. We always followed agents query guidelines, but if they didn't specifically list whether or not to include a sample, we pasted the first chapter below our query. We figured the sooner they saw our work the better. They were either going to like it and request more or reject it. Oh, and no, you don't get to see the entire first chapter :) If you like the first few paragraphs you'll have to buy LIAR SOCIETY when it's out next year! We're sneaky like that.
That's not sneaky that's smart. Okay it's a little sneaky too, but these girls are like that. And as far as pages great idea. If the guidelines don't say not to, put em in. What can they do? Reject you?
Her e-mail was bold-faced in my inbox. It didn't move or disappear or do any of the creepy things I'd expect an e-mail from a ghost to do. It was just there.
With trembling fingers, I clicked on Grace’s name.
Sent: Sun 9/14 11:59 PM
Subject: (no subject)
I shouldn't be writing.
They'll hurt you.
I didn't think dead best friends could send emails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Cue the men in white coats because it was entirely possible that I had lost my mind.
I should have been screaming or crying or something, but instead, my legs, my arms, my heart went numb.
Ooh, haunting. This is a great teaser and really makes me want to read this novel. Lucky agent got to read more.
So that's it. Short. Sweet. Super-awesome. What do you guys think? Have you ever seen anything like this? Are you going to change your own query at all now (please don't copy their email idea, I've already copyrighted that)?