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 Jen Petro-Roy. This great query connected her with her agent, Brianne Johnson.
Evie’s older sister Cilla is gone. Their parents sent Cilla away to some super strict boarding school after she got pregnant her junior year of high school. Getting pregnant is not something the Morgan girls are expected to do. They’re supposed to go to church and eat fish on Fridays. They’re supposed to be good little Catholic girls.
Evie still can’t believe her parents were that cruel, though. Or that Cilla isn’t responding to her letters, even though she’s writing to her almost every day. Some of the letters talk about normal sixth grade stuff, like the school play she didn’t get cast in or the growing distance between Evie and her best friends Katie and Maggie. Some of the letters tell about exciting stuff, like June, the new girl in Evie’s class. And some of the letters hint at stuff that Evie can’t quite bring herself to admit: like that her feelings for June are becoming decidedly…uncatholic.
When the other kids at school find out about her secret crush, Evie sets out to find her sister, convinced that Cilla is the only one who can tell her what to do: follow her heart and get kicked out of her family, too—or start questioning her family and her faith.
P.S. I Miss You is a contemporary middle grade epistolary novel (LGBTQ) complete at 36,000 words. Inspired by Dear Mr. Henshaw, it would also appeal to fans of Alex Gino’s George, Nancy J. Cavanaugh’s This Journal Belongs to Ratchet, and Linda Urban.
I got lucky with this query, as it landed in Brianne’s inbox the day before New York City got hit with a major snowstorm and she had lots of free time to read. She was one of my dream agents in the initial round of ten that I queried, and the first one to contact me!
But even though she told me she loved the book, she had a few comments and asked for a revision before signing. Brianne’s comments were spot-on and I so enjoyed talking with her that I dove right into editing.
After emailing the changes back to her and after a nail-biting week of waiting, Brianne emailed me back that she wanted to sign me! I actually first saw her email in the middle of the night–I had woken up randomly at 2 am and of course checked my email (just in case!). I shrieked and woke my husband up to tell him the good news.
Jen Petro-Roy is a middle grade author and a teen librarian. She is a member of SCBWI and runs a young writers group at her library. She loves running and is ridiculously obsessed with Jeopardy! She lives near Boston with her husband, two daughters, and way too many books. P.S. I MISS YOU will be published in Fall 2017 by MacMillan/Feiwel & Friends. You can find Jen on Twitter (https://twitter.com/jpetroroy) and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/JenPetroRoy/)