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 where 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 Amelinda Berube. This great query connected her with her agent, Lana Popovic.
All fifteen-year-old Marianne can recall from the night after her parents split up is a single image: a silent, icy lake under a starless sky, with something in the depths groping its way towards her. She certainly doesn’t remember floating in midair or shattering windows without touching them. But her mom saw it happen – in fact, her mom is checking herself into the hospital, convinced she was hallucinating.
Now an unseen force is flinging objects at Marianne hard enough to crack a chalkboard and scrawling “THIS IS MINE” across her math exam. With her dad off to pursue “true happiness” and her only friend moved across the country, she’s desperate enough to break her shell of bookish invisibility and confide in loner goth-girl Rhiannon. Between Rhiannon’s badassery and her confidence that handling a poltergeist will be no big deal, it doesn’t take long for Marianne’s cautious admiration to kindle into a crush.
But Rhiannon is wrong: their improvised attempt to communicate with the presence haunting Marianne only calls down the full force of its rage. It will do whatever it takes to possess Marianne completely and reclaim the life it says she stole; her mom’s fragility and Rhiannon’s loyalty become weapons for it to use against her. She must unravel the truth about what – and who – her enemy is before it forces her to take its place under the icy lake forever.
UNDER THE ICY LAKE is a 57,000-word YA horror novel that combines the subjective, introspective approach of BLACK SWAN with the suspense and pacing of classic ghost stories like WAIT TILL HELEN COMES.
Executive correspondence is my day job bread and butter, so I figured a query would be a breeze—just another piece of business writing, right? You can imagine what my first attempts looked like! Fortunately, Twitter came to my rescue. I lost count of the swaps I did somewhere past 20 and ran it by two or three query-doctoring editors into the bargain. When Michelle Hauck picked my entry for her Query Kombat team I knew I was finally on the right track. I didn’t make it to the agent round of that contest, but the feedback gave me what I needed to put the final polish on it. 80-odd queries later, here we are!
I’m a writer and editor with a small department in the Canadian public service, having previously dabbled in academe and carpentry, and am also a member of SCBWI. I spend way too much time on Twitter as @metuiteme.