Friday, May 14, 2010

THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF MISS GRETCHEN GREY

Today we have a successful query shared by Katie, the mysterious Creepy Query Girl. Please visit her blog to find out more about her and her writing.

For anyone who is new to these guest posts Katie's query will be in black text, Katie's commentary will be in blue and my own thoughts will be in red.

Let's get to the good part:


Dear (Agent Name),

After having been referred to your agency through AgentQuery.com (or whichever query search site brought me to them), and having read your website and profile, I believe my manuscript may be of interest to you.

Fourteen year old Gretchen Grey will grow up to be the most famous and sought after medium of the nineteen thirties and early forties. 'The Life and Adventures of Miss Gretchen Grey' follows our young heroine as she travels across the Atlantic after the deaths of her parents. She arrives into the care of her paternal Grandmother; a woman who holds a surprising perception of Gretchen's 'gifts'. This alternate history story is based upon real people and places in historical New England, including characters set within the wealthy Cheney family of Manchester, Connecticut and the little known Spiritualist Camp of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts. The manuscript in its entirety is 103,000 words. My work should appeal to young adults between the ages of eleven and seventeen.

One of the things I noticed while reviewing other people's queries is that in comparison, mine is pretty bland! It's kind of anti-blurb and is much more to the point. I think its strong points are probably the fact that I put a concise label on it right away- 'alternate history story' - 'young adults' etc.... I didn't give a mini synopsis AT ALL. I don't introduce any secondary characters. So much more happens in this book than I could really fit so I had to bring it down to the bare bones of the matter. But in the end, I think that just giving the overall idea might have prompted the agents to ask for more.

Katie's right that there isn't a lot of colorful voice here but I would disagree about it being bland. The part "grow up to be the most famous and sought after medium of the nineteen thirties and early forties" sounds like an excellent hook to me and the best part is that if you add the characters age (which she obviously did) you have the genre all laid out right there.

Over recent years, interest in the paranormal has spiked and is reflected in television shows such as ‘Medium’ and ‘Ghost Whisperer’ and books such as Meg Cabot’s ‘Mediator’ series. I believe there is a place for ‘Gretchen Grey’ in this market. The story is also unique in that it takes place in a historical setting and contrasts between constrained Edwardian England and the Spiritualist movement in the United States.

This was basically just me trying to convince the agent that there is a market for my book. People are still interested in the paranormal no matter how much is already out there! Notice I didn't compare my books to any of these per se but just basically pointed out that the idea is still popular.

I think Katie does a good job of being subtle here. She doesn't beat the agent over the head with HOW successful the genre has been (as I know you all have seen me do in some past queries), but she does a good job of comparing AND contrasting.

I have always been an avid reader of young adult and women’s literature. Although I began writing my own books and stories at age fifteen, ‘Gretchen Grey’ is my first finished manuscript. The inspiration for this book undoubtedly stemmed from homesickness. After a five year separation from my Connecticut birthplace, nostalgia pushed me to write about the forests and towns of my youth. I am twenty seven years old; a married mother of three, and have been residing in France for the last five years.

I don't have any writing credentials and I've read that if that's the case than the best thing to do is tell the agent why you're the best person to have written this book and what you bring to the table.

Normally for fiction this may not be necessary, but in this case I think Katie does quite well and it is pertinent that she lives in Europe because her book covers the continent in its plot and setting. It's not like you can't write about Europe even if you've never been there but I think the fact that Katie lives there makes it sound like her work will be that much more authentic.

Thank you so much for your time. If you feel that this project holds promise, I will be happy to send the additional material accordingly.

Sincerely,

Katie (aka Creepy Query Girl)

She got several requests. Here are a few examples:

Date: Mon, 22 Feb 2010 13:35:46 -0500
Subject: Re: The Life and Adventures of Miss Gretchen Grey
From: REDACTED@REDACTED.com
To: REDACTED@hotmail.com

Dear Ms. REDACTED:

Thank you for querying REDACTED. I would be happy to take a look at your material. Please email me a proposal package (the first three chapters, no more than the first 50 pages, and a 1-2 page synopsis) of your book, as a MS Word doc attachment.

More information on proposals can be found at http://www.REDACTED.com/faqs.html#proposal and by reviewing our blog.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.

------------------------------------------------------------

From: submissions@REDACTED.com
Subject: Re: The Life and Adventures of Miss Gretchen Grey
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 2010 11:12:16 -0400
To: REDACTED@hotmail.com

Dear Ms. REDACTED,

Thank you for your interest in REDACTED Literary. Your manuscript sounds like it is full of possibilities. Could you please send us the complete manuscript as an attached document?

Looking forward to reading your work.

All best,
REDACTED Literary

------------------------------------------------------------

Dear Katie,

Thank you for your query letter. We would be happy to take a closer look at your project.

Would it be possible to send 50-100 pages either as a Word attachment to REDACTED@REDACTED.com, or by mail to my attention?

Thank you very much.

Best regards,

REDACTED

------------------------------------------------------------

Subject: RE: The Life and Adventures of Miss Gretchen Grey
> Date: Fri, 22 Jan 2010 08:56:16 -0500
> From: REDACTED@REDACTED.com
> To: REDACTED@hotmail.com
>
> Hi. Would you email the manuscript along as a Word attachment? Thanks.

I have to admit I'm quite jealous. A few of these requests are from very prominent and highly coveted (by me) agencies. Katie may think her query isn't great, and sure it could probably be improved (they all can), but it obviously got the job done. Her manuscript is now currently being read by multiple agents and we are all wishing her the best when it comes to receiving an offer for representation, right?

What are your thoughts? I realize this query might be more business and less flair than some but the key here is that it got agents to request pages. The most amazing query in the world won't sell a bad manuscript but luckily a query that's just good enough won't matter if the writing sings.

Please don't forget to visit Katie's blog and become a follower. Also if you would like to know more about her book you can visit her other blog to read a synopsis! After that please leave your thoughts/questions/arguments/hopes and dreams here in the comments.

Thanks for visiting!

33 comments:

Emily White said...

Wow. Good luck, Katie! I like how your query still got the main (interesting and unique) point of the book across without beating the agent over the head with it. It was simple and clean, and it obviously works because of that.

I like it!

Piedmont Writer said...

Congratulations Katie! Wishing you all the best in your quest for publication.

Slamdunk said...

Yeah, nice work Katie. It seems that your letter certainly had its intended impact in encouraging decision-makers to take a closer look at the content.

Creepy Query Girl said...

thanks for having me on Matt- and for all of your encouraging comments!

Zoe C. Courtman said...

Congrats, Katie, and thanks, Matt, for sharing as always. This query felt so different from others, but not in a bad way. I liked Katie's to-the-point style. And you're right, Matt, it wasn't bland at all. Things like "the little known Spiritualist Camp of Lake Pleasant, Massachusetts" totally hooked me. I'm intrigued! Good luck Katie!

MissV said...

Major SQUEE for all the requests!!! How freakin' exciting is that?

Congratulations, Creepy...errrr Katie! And thanks Matt for giving her a place to showcase!

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Thanks for sharing Katie! Sounds like a fantastic story! I'm fingers are GLUED together for you. :)

I quite liked the query. Yeah, there wasn't really any of your voice coming through, but I think you've done a great job at explaining why an agent should take a closer look at it!

And thanks Matt again for a great post :)

Laura Pauling said...

I don't think it has to have flair every time. She did a great job of presenting her story and bit of who she is. Great job! I hope we hear news she is agented at some point!

salarsenッ said...

Best of luck, Katie. Awesome! You may not think the query was good, but it did it's job: got someone to ask to see more. You should be proud.

Thanks, Matt.

Shannon said...

Thanks for sharing this Katie! That's so exciting about the requests! I'm keeping my fingers crossed for you. :)

Christina Lee said...

SOUNDS GREAT Katie! I liked looking at th request letters too!

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

Thanks for sharing Katie.
I think the thing about the query is that it got the main point across, which interested the agents. :)

Old Kitty said...

CONGRATULATIONS TO KATIE!!

That really is wonderful news - wonderful!!

Thank you for sharing the successful query letter - it's really helpful. Especially the bit on how to fill a query when you don't have that much writing credentials - it's great that you can use your life's experiences/background to buck up your query instead.

But this really is Wonderful News for Katie! yay!!!!

Take care
x

Theresa Milstein said...

There's so much discussion about what makes a successful query letter. If it's written clearly and has a good (even unique) premise, it's going to get requests for material.

This sounds like a good premise.

Candyland said...

Great job! And getting requests? Amazing. *Sending good thoughts*

Falen said...

ooh Katie, that book sounds awesome.
I hope you get a book deal so i can buy it and read it

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks so much guys for all the well wishes! I have a partial that was asked for in April and a proposal that's been out since February. The wait has been excruciating and I really hope its not for naught! In the mean time, thank god for blogging!

JustineDell said...

Holy Cow! Way to go Katie!!!! Make sure you let us all know how the requests turn out...I know the waiting game is tough - hang in there!

Thanks again for a wonderful post, Matt.

~JD

Elana Johnson said...

Great stuff here. Good luck Katie!

Janet Johnson said...

congrats Katie! Too cool. Good luck!

Palindrome said...

Good luck Katie! That's a great query!

Tracy said...

I love the fact that Katie's query shows that there isn't one SET way that things have to be done. It's all about just having an idea that interests agents and then seeing how things go from there!

Ted Cross said...

At least you are doing it and getting positive responses! I keep holding off and holding off, finding excuses to keep editing. I've never yet sent a query letter...

Raquel Byrnes said...

That's great news, Katie. I hope that you get some exciting news soon. Your query seemed concise, professional, and very well researched. Bravo. =)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Nicely done, Katie! It was clearly effective, based on the awesome results. Good luck!!

Thanks Matthew for another great example and commentary.

Crimey said...

The line "Fourteen year old Gretchen Grey will grow up to be the most famous and sought after medium of the nineteen thirties and early forties" hooked me. A great hook/story premise goes a long way. Best of luck, Katie.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Nice job, Katie and good luck with it :) Thanks so much for sharing!

Angela M. said...

Yes, the hook was definitely amazing. The story idea is very unique, which would make agents sit right up and read with interest. You also showed knowledge of what you're writing about. Well done!

Shelley Sly said...

Congratulations Katie, and best of luck! This looks fantastic!

Talli Roland said...

Thank, Katie, for sharing this. And I'm glad to finally know your name. :)

I think the query could be spiced up a bit more, but the hook is definitely strong!

Clara said...

Definetly grabbed my attention! I have faith Gretchen will soon be on the libraries =)

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

I think this is awesome. I will be back to your blog for sure. I found you through Evonne Lack who I used to write with at BabyCenter. Thank you for this very helpful blog!

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks again Matt and everyone for yoru comments! And thanks to everyone who took the time to come say 'hi' on my blog:)