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 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.
With that in mind, I’m pleased to share today’s successful query from Mary Elizabeth Summer. This great query connected her with her agent, Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary Agency.
Julep Dupree is not a real person. In fact, Julep isn’t even her real name. She’s a grifter, a con artist, a master of disguise, and a sophomore at St. Agatha High. The downside of St. Agatha’s is that its private-school price tag is a bit higher than Julep’s father, an old-school grifter with a weakness for the ponies, can afford. So Julep makes up the difference by running petty scams for her classmates, while dodging the dean of students and maintaining an A+ (okay, A-) average.
But when she comes home one day to a ransacked apartment and a missing dad, Julep’s carefully laid plans for an expenses-paid golden ticket to Yale start to unravel. Even with help from St. Agatha’s resident Prince Charming, Tyler Richland, Julep struggles to trace her dad’s trail of clues through a maze of creepy stalkers, hit attempts, family secrets, and worse, the threat of foster care. With everything she has left at stake, Julep must tap all her resources and use every grift in the book to find her dad before his mark finds her.
Query tidbit from Mary Elizabeth:
After I wrote my query, I entered a weekly blog post query-critique contest and won the query critique! The author who hosted the contest and critiqued my query offered some suggestions for wording changes to my query’s plot summary that ultimately made the whole query sing. Her tweaked version became my final query. The author who critiqued my query was Michelle Krys, author of HEXED and CHARMED. And, as it turned out, we ended up landing the same editor from the same publishing house and debuting the same year. Though we’re now editor sisters and good buddies, with a lot of shared experiences, I will always remember that the first time I met Michelle was when she very graciously (and effectively!) critiqued my query.
Mary Elizabeth Summer contributes to the delinquency of minors by writing books about unruly teenagers with criminal leanings. She has a BA in creative writing from Wells College, and her philosophy on life is “you can never go wrong with sriracha sauce.” She lives in Portland with her partner, their daughter, and their evil overlor-er, cat. TRUST ME, I’M LYING is her debut novel. For more on Mary Elizabeth, check out her website or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Pinterest.