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 Niki Lenz. This great query connected her with her agent, Kate Testerman.
I read on Literary Rambles that you’re seeking stories with diverse characters and humor. Please consider THE MANNY AND THE MOTORCYCLE, my MG fantasy, a modern retelling of Mary Poppins.
Twelve-year-old Ben Nontario is ticked off that his parents are hiring a nanny. Sure, wrangling his two little sisters after school would be a pain, but he’s convinced if he weren’t in a wheelchair, his parents would make him a latchkey kid like everyone else in the seventh grade.
When the nanny shows up, Ben starts to reconsider his stance. Marty, the burly, tattooed, motorcycle riding manny is surprising beyond his appearance. Strange things start to happen as soon as he arrives (Flying cutlery! Spontaneous cookie appearances! Field trips into picture books!). Ben, being a man of science, knows magic isn’t real, so he’s convinced the manny is somehow tricking them. But the fun and friendship that Marty brings turn out to be what Ben and his family need most.
When Ben’s mom learns that Marty didn’t come from the nanny agency like she originally thought, she fires him immediately. Ben has to decide if he can put aside his skepticism about magic, and use some to get Marty back. If Ben can’t pull it off, the agency has a cheek-pinching, baby-talking nanny they’d love to replace him with, and the family bonds that Marty tied might just fray at the edges.
THE MANNY AND THE MOTORCYCLE is complete at 49,000 words. Fans of MARY POPPINS and NANNY MCPHEE will love this updated retelling.
If this query letter sounds familiar to you, you might have read it in Query Kombat last year… where it got knocked out in the first round! It just goes to show that not doing well in a contest doesn’t mean that your query won’t get the attention of an agent in the slush.
Niki Lenz works as a free-lance writer in Kansas City, where she lives with her husband and two children. She enjoys reading, travel, and binge watching Netflix. She’s a card-carrying member of SCBWI. For more on Niki, follow her on Twitter (@).