(Logo illustration courtesy of Vanessa Henderson (@)
If you ask any writer about the process of connecting with their agent (or publisher), the majority will say the most difficult part was querying. Not only the actual process of sending out the letters/emails, but formulating the query itself. In fact, I’ve heard more than a few writers say that writing their query took them almost as long as drafting their book!
Some people have the talent of being able to summarize their book in a few sentences. But for those who don’t, I wanted to provide a resource so writers could learn what works, and what doesn’t, in a query.
Every other Friday (hopefully) I will share a writer’s successful query along with a little behind the scenes tidbit. I hope you’ll come back for each new post, and help me spread the word about what I think can be an important resource for querying writers.
Here is the series’ first installment courtesy of the lovely and amazing author, Michelle Smith…
Hi there! I’m querying in hopes you may be interested in PLAY ON, which is a YA Contemporary that I would describe as Friday Night Lights with fun and flirty romance.
Seventeen-year-old Austin Braxton is living the dream: he’s got a super-hot girlfriend, a fastball that would make Nolan Ryan drool, and a scholarship to South Carolina’s top university. Okay . . . maybe “dream” is a stretch. The hot girlfriend isn’t much to brag about when she’s hell on the heart, and Allie’s drama is destroying Austin’s pitching mojo, right along with his GPA. Bye-bye, scholarship.
Or maybe not.
Enter Marisa, the new girl working at the Braxton family’s flower shop. The green-eyed chemistry genius knocks the good ol’ boy clean off his feet. Her love for baseball and the Atlanta Braves rivals even Austin’s. He’s convinced he’s found perfection personified . . . until he discovers the scars covering Marisa’s wrists. When a downward spiral into depression’s darkness lands Marisa in the hospital, Austin’s terrified he may be in over his head.
The baseball god of Lewis Creek is just a small town guy with a major league dream. With Marisa, he might actually be able to have it all, if he can realize how perfectly imperfect love is.
And if his crazy ex-girlfriend would leave him the heck alone, that’d be pretty great, too.
PLAY ON is complete at 50,000 words, and is available upon request.
Tidbit: I sent about 40ish queries for PLAY ON, while also participating in PitchMAS in July 2013. I received a handful of requests, including one from my agent, Lana Popovic. The funny thing is that I’d actually queried Lana the month before, but my query was still sitting in her inbox. I sent her a super awkward tweet that went something like, “Oh hey, I already queried you, so…now what?” She was incredibly sweet and asked me to send her a reminder email, which I did. I signed with her a few short weeks later, on the day before my birthday!
Disclaimer: In the past year, I’ve signed with Spencer Hill Contemporary and PLAY ON has undergone extensive edits, which included the elimination of a fairly major character and her sub-plot, both of which are mentioned in the query. So, our leading man no longer has a crazy ex-girlfriend standing in his way. ;)
In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything. Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.
Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius; she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek — he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.
As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the façade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.
Michelle Smith writes books for teens (and adults who aren’t ashamed of their love for YA). She’s a lover of all things happy, laughs way too much, and is a complete sap. She advocates for mental health awareness, and is a strong supporter of The Trevor Project and To Write Love on Her Arms. Michelle lives in North Carolina with her family. Her YA Contemporary, PLAY ON, will be released by Spencer Hill Contemporary in April 2015. For more on Michelle, check out her website or follow her on Twitter (@).