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 authors 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 David Arnold. This great query connected him with his agent, Dan Lazar of Writers House.
In my YA contemporary novel titled Mosquitoland, Mim moves from northern Ohio to Jackson, Mississippi, with her dad and new stepmom, Kathy. When Mim learns that her real mother is sick back in Cleveland, she steals Kathy’s savings and hops on a northbound Greyhound.
Brutally honest and habitually snarky, Mim has learned to live in almost total isolation. Enter Walt, a homeless boy with Down syndrome who lives in the woods off I-75. Walt—along with Beck Van Buren, a charming, heroically flawed traveling photographer—stir Mim’s spirit in new ways, challenging her to confront her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.
Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey in 72,000 words. Like Charlie (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) and Juno McGuff (Juno) before her, Mim sees the world through a kaleidoscopic lens. But can this lens protect her from solar retinopathy, psychosis, and creepy old men?
David’s query tidbit…
I don’t remember exactly how many drafts my query went through, but I can tell you I spent almost two months on it. And probably three or four rounds of revisions with my crit group. Once we landed in a good place, I spent a lot of time crafting it to each agent’s desired specifications.
One thing I’ll say — I’ve read a lot of queries that tend to fall into one of two camps: too heavy on the synopsis, or too light. I think finding that sweet spot–where you showcase just the right amount of book, just the right amount of voice, and just the right amount of person–should be the primary objective in query writing.
Available March 3, 2015
David Arnold is the author of MOSQUITOLAND (Viking/Penguin, 2015). Previous “jobs” include freelance musician/producer, stay-at-home dad, and preschool teacher. He is a fierce believer in the power of kindness and community. And chips. He believes fiercely in chips. Davis is represented by Dan Lazar at Writers House. You can find him at davidarnoldbooks.com and on Twitter @roofbeam.