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 Joanna Meyer. This great query connected her with her agent, Sarah Davies.
Talia was supposed to marry the heir to the empire and become Empress of half the world. Instead, a rival steals the throne and banishes Talia and her mother to a nowhere province on the edge of the Northern Sea. There, Talia is contracted to marry Wen, the son of an insignificant baron, but she’s not about to accept another man she didn’t choose herself. When her mother becomes obsessed with writing a book about the ancient sea-goddess Rahn in the watery Hall of the Dead, Talia can’t stop her from spiraling into madness—or from killing herself in pursuit of that mythical Hall.
Shattered by grief, Talia determines to fulfill her last promise to her mother and finish the book. But as she delves into writing, she begins to believe the myths herself, and realizes her mother had a fail safe—she’s counting on Talia to free her from Rahn’s Hall. Even though it means jeopardizing her growing friendship with Wen, Talia decides to save her.
But Wen’s not about to let her go alone. Together, they sail the wide reaches of the Northern Sea, where reality and myth begin to blur, and a mysterious Whale bears them to the Hall beneath the waves. There, at the foot of Rahn’s throne, Talia must free her mother before she and Wen become two more shadows in the teeming mass of the Dead.
Written in the vein of Ursula K. LeGuin’s Earthsea series, THE WHALE AND THE TREE will appeal to readers of Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse and Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy.
I queried Sarah Davies in March after my critique partner pointed me to Sarah’s tweet about being open to submissions again-I ended up subbing to her THREE DAYS before my initial offer of representation! So although, I’d been querying WHALE since August 2014, I queried Sarah and signed with her in under three weeks! That kind of blows my mind.
Joanna Ruth Meyer writes YA fantasy, and is represented by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary. A staunch defender of the Oxford comma, Joanna was first published at fourteen in the children’s magazine Stone Soup. She lives in Mesa, AZ with her dear husband, a rascally cat, and an enormous grand piano named Prince Imrahil. She can never get enough tea. You can find Joanna on Twitter @gamwyn or her blog.