Mike Chen’s Successful Query Letter

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Mike Chen’s Successful Query Letter

Mike I’m thrilled to have you on my blog today, and thank you so much for sharing your querying experience with us. I had so much fun reading about your querying experience, and I know my readers and other authors out there will enjoy it too!

Hello! And thank you for having me! I love trying to help out fellow writers with the query process. I feel like I’m pretty good at breaking down the query letter, so happy to share my knowledge.

 

That’s awesome – after all, I think the more we help each other out, the better! So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

By the time, I queried HERE AND NOW AND THEN, it was the third book I’d queried. My second one got pretty close with a really good request rate, and it was that manuscript where I felt like I learned the formula during that time. So the query for HNT, I probably drafted a few different versions and refined it over the course of a few weeks.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

I actually didn’t! I just looked back at the first query I sent and it’s the same one that landed me offers despite being sent four months earlier.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

I just checked and it was two weeks.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

18 requests over 90 queries.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Oh, I did for sure! The query to my now-agent was actually a result of getting a full rejection from one of my top tier agents, and I was so mad that I went on a revenge-querying spree. Up until then, I sent things out fairly methodically in small batches but I was in a “screw it!” mindset and blasted a bunch out.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

Querytracker.net is the best resource for that. I used that with my own spreadsheet.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

I tried to send batches of 5-10, and those batches would have a mix of first, second, and third tier agents.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I’m very much a believer in the idea that you don’t want to blow through your top tier first. Just in case your query isn’t working, or you get revision notes that make your manuscript better, it’s a good idea to mix it up. Also, different agents read/request at different speeds regardless of how long they’ve been in the business. When I started out, I did use Querytracker to see who typically responded the fastest and I identified those in my first batch just to get a sense of if the query was working.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

I tried to personalize the greeting/opening paragraph especially if there was something personal that made sense. For example, my agent loves Nick Hornby and has a corgi, and I love Nick Hornby and had a corgi at the time who has since passed. But I mentioned that in my query.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

It wasn’t quite as dramatic as others have had. The first offer I got was from a smaller agent and first he wanted to talk. But we were having trouble finding time for a call so he said on email that we really should talk because he wanted to offer representation. That kicked off the whole thing. It wasn’t quite as immediate or explosive as some of my other friends!

I did wind up getting multiple offers (more on that below) and when I did actually get to talk to Eric, he said (and I totally remember these exact words) “I want to represent your book. Well, all of your books forever, actually.” He was the third of four offering agents that I talked to and I felt 99% certain that he was the one after that call, though I did my due diligence and took the last call.

 

  • Did you have multiple offers for either representation or publication, and if so, how did you decide who you were going to accept?

As mentioned above, I had four offers of rep. For friends who’ve wound up juggling multiple offers, I advise them to look for three things. First, manuscript feedback: who did you agree with the most? Second, personality: publishing is an intensely personal career, so who do you feel you mesh with the most? Third, communication style: this is an offshoot of personality, but different agents communicate in different ways. Some are very businesslike and others are extremely personal (mine is the latter). Talk to them, talk to their clients, and see what meshes with how you like to work.

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

It was a mix of questions about my work and how they worked. A short list:

What did you like about the work?

What kind of submission list do you see for this?

What areas do you think it could change or improve?

Are you hands on with editorial or do you prefer the writer handle that on their own?

Can I speak with some of your existing clients?

What is your typical process in working with a new author?

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

I did not ask about communication style,  but I’m lucky that it didn’t end up being an issue. I’ve heard horror stories of completely opposite expectations in the relationship and no one is happy with that, so it’s definitely a priority question.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

My most basic advice for querying is to focus on voice, pace, and stakes. I go into it a bit more on my blog post breaking down my own query, but those are the key elements. It’s okay to eschew world building and proper nouns to keep it lean and make sure the pace really goes. Every sentence has to build on the previous one to increase stakes successively. And the opening line should have some ironic hook, which should be referenced in the last line for a feeling of completing the circle.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

I’m very active on Twitter and happy to answer any questions regarding the query process or writing queries on there. Don’t be shy!

 

Thanks so much Mike for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us! It was an absolute pleasure to have you on my blog, and the advice you’ve given will be so helpful to other authors out there and will certainly inspire those about to hunker down in the querying trenches, lol!

And for those of you who want to have a read of Mike’s absolutely amazing debut ‘Here and Now and Then’, it’s scheduled for release on Jan 29th, 2019. Click on the pic below for more info.

HERE AND NOW AND THEN:

Kin Stewart is an everyday family man: working in IT, trying to keep the spark in his marriage, struggling to connect with his teenage daughter, Miranda. But his current life is a far cry from his previous career…as a time-traveling secret agent from 2142.

Stranded in suburban San Francisco since the 1990s after a botched mission, Kin has kept his past hidden from everyone around him, despite the increasing blackouts and memory loss affecting his time-traveler’s brain. Until one afternoon, his “rescue” team arrives—eighteen years too late.

Their mission: return Kin to 2142, where he’s only been gone weeks, not years, and where another family is waiting for him. A family he can’t remember.

Torn between two lives, Kin is desperate for a way to stay connected to both. But when his best efforts threaten to destroy the agency and even history itself, his daughter’s very existence is at risk. It’ll take one final trip across time to save Miranda—even if it means breaking all the rules of time travel in the process.

A uniquely emotional genre-bending debut, Here and Now and Then captures the perfect balance of heart, playfulness, and imagination, offering an intimate glimpse into the crevices of a father’s heart and its capacity to stretch across both space and time to protect the people that mean the most.

To order your copy of HERE AND NOW AND THEN, click on the book picture, or the links below:

https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780778369042

https://www.amazon.com/Here-Now-Then-Mike-Chen-ebook/dp/B07B4Z433Y/

 

About Mike:

Mike Chen is a lifelong writer, from crafting fan fiction as a child to somehow getting paid for words as an adult. He has contributed to major geek culture websites (The Mary Sue, The Portalist), covered the NHL for mainstream media outlets, and ghostwritten corporate articles appearing in Forbes, Buzzfeed, Enterpreneur, and more. A member of SFWA and the Codex Writers group, Mike calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, where he can often be found playing video games and watching Doctor Who with his wife, daughter, and rescue animals.

 

Mike can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: http://www.mikechenbooks.com
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/mikechenwriter
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36630924-here-and-now-and-then

More Successful Query Letters:

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Samantha Heuwagen’s Successful Query Letter

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Samantha Heuwagen’s Successful Query Letter

Samantha I’m so excited to welcome you to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your querying experience with us. Also a very big thanks, for sharing your successful query letter, that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thank you so much for having me! If I can help in anyway, I’m more than happy to do it! I know the process was extremely soul crushing for me. If someone can learn a new way to go about the query process, that’s great!

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:


 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

I’ve been known to be a very quick writer (thanks grad school!). So the process took about a few hours and then I let it sit so I could come back to edit––so maybe a few days? I knew what I wanted to say and what agents/editors look for, so it wasn’t hard to put the pieces together … or so I thought.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

I went through a few drafts of it––I think about three different versions. As I learned about the process, by failing miserably, it grew. In the end I wasn’t seeing any movement. I would get a partial request and some full, but they always ended in rejection. It wasn’t until I hired my editor, Hannah Bauman (https://btleditorial.com/), to help me sort it out that I got a little more feedback and along with that, some hope.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

My first partial was pretty quick, maybe a month? A few months later, I was given two full requests, but nothing happened with any of those.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I want to say 5 partial requests and 3 full requests throughout the process.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

If you could see me right now, I’m laughing. Not just, ha ha ha, but a big belly laugh with tears. Of course I was rejected. I want to say I was rejected almost 200 times, maybe even more. After the first 50, I stopped counting. It happens and it’s a part of the deal. You want to be a creative and write? You’re going to have to face the pain of rejection, no matter how bitter it tastes.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I used excel mostly. I wasn’t very good at tracking it at first because it never crossed my mind to do it––sad now that I think about it. But in the end I got smart and started tracking. You should do it, because you want those records, even if it’s to burn it all later.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

My goal in every sitting was ten, but that doesn’t mean I found ten people to query. Sometimes it was one, others more. I went after the agents and editors I knew I wanted to work with and would be a good fit.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I wanted to be represented by someone who was as passionate about changing stereotypes of mental health and women, especially women of color. I looked for individuals who had that quality and wanted to change the world through writing.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

I did to the best of my ability. I’ll be honest, sometimes I got lazy, but if I connected with an agent online or at a conference, I’d make sure you say hi and make sure they knew it was me.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

I got an email from Trifecta, actually. I never check my email between teaching and heading to the office to do therapy, but something about that time and day, I checked. I sat in my car, still parked mind you, and looked around asking if this was real life. I then called my mom and partner who didn’t pick up their phones. Luckily, I was able to get ahold of dear friends who facetimed me to celebrate. It was surreal.

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

I had a lot and I won’t bore you with the details, but I made sure it was legit by running it by my lawyer and team. You have to be smart, even if it’s your dream come true, you never know.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

I wish I focused more on the marketing part of life. I understand a lot of that is my responsibility no matter if you’re working with a big press or small, but I wish I would have asked for a business plan or something to get a better idea of what they could offer me. Though I’ll admit, I like the freedom to do it alone, but again, it’s hard work and sometimes I just want to be the writer! I like to think I’m learning valuable skills no matter what happens with the book or beyond.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

Self care. Take care of yourself during this process and get ready to work. If you feel like burn out is around the corner, stop and take a step back. It’s a marathon not a sprint.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

Thank you so much and good luck to everyone in the trenches. It’s not easy, but it does get better no matter what the outcome. Believe in yourself and you’re half way there!

 

Samantha’s editor at Trifecta Publishing, Diana Ballew, has kindly offered her perspective on what it was about Samantha’s query that got her attention, and ultimately led to her publishing deal. Here’s what she had to say:

Samantha did an excellent job with her query letter. The first paragraph contained the information I was looking for: Given your interest in multicultural fiction, the “own voices” theme, and strong female characters, I think my novel is a great fit for your list.

Indeed, I was looking for multicultural fiction with an especially strong female character in a futuristic setting. Reading further, I knew that no matter how good her attached manuscript pages might be, there was an issue with her word count—over 120,000 words, and we didn’t publish books over 100,000 words. Still, I began reading, and I really like her attached pages. I asked Samantha to consider revising and resubmitting her manuscript. She was very professional about it and took the job to task. She completed the revisions and resubmitted the manuscript within a timely manner, and I was delighted to see the book fell right under that 100,000-word mark, and that Dawn Among the Stars was now considerably tighter, a much better read, and a perfect fit for Trifecta Publishing House.

Diana Ballew
Director of Acquisitions
Project Manager
TrifectaPublishingHouse

 

 

Thank you so much Samantha (and Diana too) for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Samantha’s fabulous debut novel ‘Dawn Among the Stars’, it’s scheduled for release on May 21st, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

 

Dawn Among The Stars Blurb:

Set against the backdrop of intergalactic politics and war, Dawn Among the Stars follows the stories of three Humans as they struggle to understand the universe on a cosmic scale.

Kayin has a rough start when the Shielders, a potential alien ally for Earth, come out of hiding and into the public consciousness. Not only does their very existence cause her trouble, her panic attacks threaten to derail her everyday life. Can she overcome her mental health issues or will she be swallowed up in a political mess?

As for Henry Rickner, he wishes he could take back all of his mistakes in life, starting with his choice to leave Kayin.  Yet he finds himself within the chaos of war as he tries to reunite with those he holds dear.

Melissa Pebbles only has one goal: to keep her family safe during the attack. She will do anything to make sure she and her family make it through whatever challenges are thrown their way. While Melissa fights to keep her family alive, she learns that family is more than just blood.

Can these three work with the Shielders to save Earth or will they lose the only home they’ve ever known?

** Dawn Among The Stars is NOW available for pre-order – just visit: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07CSDC77N/ref **

About Samantha:

Samantha Heuwagen works as a Marriage and Family Therapist and specializes in Sex.

Therapy in Atlanta, GA. She is a graduate of Mercer University School of Medicine where she earned her second Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Her first Master’s degree is in Women’s and Gender Studies from the University of South Florida where she first realized her passion for sex education. She is a certified sexologist with the American College of Sexologists. When she isn’t working with clients, she teaches at Kennesaw State University sharing her knowledge about sex and feminism. Her debut novel, Dawn Among the Stars, the first in a multi-part series, releases May 21st, 2018 through Trifecta Publishing.

 

Samantha can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: SamanthaHeuwagen.com
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/609493369396318/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/Sheuwagen
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/samantha_heuwagen/
Pinterest link: https://www.pinterest.com/heuwagens/
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17727060.Samantha_Heuwagen?from_search=true

More Successful Query Letters:

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Lissa Linden’s Successful Query Letter

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Lissa Linden’s Successful Query Letter

Lissa it’s wonderful to welcome you to my blog, and thank you for taking part in sharing your querying experience with us. It’s so helpful to be able to actually read the query letter that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thanks for having me! Querying can feel like such a slog, so I’m happy to share some of my experience. I hope it makes the journey a little smoother for some of your readers!

 

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

Oh gosh, I’m not even sure. I probably wrote it over the course of a few days. I tend to be way too general when I first draft a query, so I do like to sit on it for a bit before revising to clarify the conflict and stakes.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

I didn’t, but I would have if I hadn’t had any bites from the requests in the initial query round. One of my requests was from a publisher’s Twitter pitch contest and I held off on querying further until I’d heard back from that submission.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

I sent the queries at the end of May and received the first partial request at the start of July, but I’d entered #CarinaPitch in June and received a full request from that, too. The submission was sent with the same query letter, but it was originally requested from a 140 character pitch. There are so many paths in publishing, but I have yet to encounter one that didn’t require a solid query letter!

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I received two partial requests – both of which eventually upgraded to fulls – and one full request from the Twitter pitch party.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Oh, yes. Many. This was the third manuscript I’d queried, and it might sound odd, but I was grateful for rejections. To me, the worst part of querying was always the waiting – the lack of response and never knowing if that meant that it was a rejection, or if my email was still in the queue somewhere. So, I supposed you could say I coped by crossing agents off my list and deciding who to add for the next round of queries.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I used an Excel spreadsheet to track queries. I would make note of the agent and agency, what I sent and the date, and whether any further materials were requested. I also had a column for rejections. It was a well-used column.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

With this book, I started with an initial list of eleven agents. The idea was that I would sent a new query out whenever I received a pass on one.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I used resources like Manuscriptwishlist.com and checked the #MSWL hashtag on Twitter, but supplemented this with my previous query experience. I may not have landed an agent with my other manuscripts, but I did gain some insight into agents I would be particularly interested in working with, so they were priority queries this time around.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

Honestly, I didn’t personalize this query to the same extent I had with previous manuscripts. I did, however, make sure each query was personally addressed, and that I’d spelled the names right.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

This is where things get a little less linear in my query journey. Remember that #CarinaPitch Twitter event I mentioned? Well, I spoke with my editor before my agent. I received an offer of publication on ONE MATCH FIRE while I was contemplating an R&R for one agent, and before my agent requested the full. This was a week of calls that I can sum up as, “Way more stressful than I’d anticipated.”

 

  • Did you have multiple offers for either representation or publication, and if so, how did you decide who you were going to accept?

I did. In one week, I spoke to an agent about doing an R&R, an editor who wanted to acquire the manuscript, and an agent who offered representation when nudged about the publication offer. Oh, and yes, the R&R agent offered representation at that point, too.

There was a lot of balancing and weighing of thoughts and emotions.

Ultimately, though, my decision came down to who seemed to “get” my book the most. When I spoke with Laura, she zeroed in on the things I loved most about the manuscript as the things she loved most about it. Her view of romance as an empowering genre really echoed my own feelings, too, not to mention she was so well-versed on the genre and had worked with the offering publisher before. I ended the call feeling more grounded than I had during that entire whirlwind week, and I took that as a good sign!

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

I asked about representing subsequent works, as well as other genres. I also asked to speak with/email existing clients, as well as how she would assist me given that I already had an offer on the manuscript, but the last question I asked was the most pertinent for me: what was her ideal outcome from this phone call? I wanted to be sure we were on the same page moving forward.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

Honestly, I probably should have asked a lot more questions about the submission process when it comes to selling future projects, but it wasn’t on my mind at the time.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

Be specific with regard to stakes for your characters. You want your query to be clear about why your manuscript is special – what makes it different from the one before yours in the slush, and how it stands apart from the query that will come next.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

I honestly wasn’t sure that this query letter worked. I’d sent out so few queries, and had a reasonably small return rate. But then much of it ended up as my back cover copy. So, I’m going to take that to mean it was indeed as effective as I’d hoped it would be!

  • What does your Agent, Laura Zats, have to say about what exactly was it in your query letter that got her attention?

Here’s what my agent, Laura Zats had to say:

“When it comes to romance, voice is, to me, the most important thing. Since it’s a genre with tropes, pacing and plot often feels like a vehicle for the characters and the feeling of the book. So the problem with a romance query is this: how, without quoting my own book, can I show an agent/editor that this book is sexy and voice-y, while still following the rule of The Three Questions (who’s your MC, what do they want, and what’s standing in their way/how are they going to get it?) The key, which Lissa perfectly executed, is in keeping it simple. First paragraph is about the heroine (with a little nod at the end to her meeting the hero), the second paragraph is for the hero (with a little nod to the heroine), and the third is about the Problem–now that they’ve found one another, what are they going to do? Keeping this formula standard allowed Lissa to add little hints that pointed towards the voice without getting lost in it, which means I could read in-between the lines to figure out exactly what this book is beyond the simple facts of the plot. We feel that Amy is interested in being in charge, that she has something to prove, but is also running from what she told herself she wanted. We know that Paul, because he can’t believe his luck, is less interested in being in control, but we also know he’s on a ticking clock. Telling us this right before we hear about celibacy tells us exactly what’s going to happen–this book is going to be full of sexual tension and unspoken words. Adding in the fire/combustion imagery means that when these two give in, it’ll be intense. And intense is exactly what I’m looking for in a book that has a quiet setting. That dichotomy is my weakness, and so I was SOLD.”

 

Lissa, thanks so much for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Lissa’s debut novel ‘One Match Fire’, which is available now, click on the pic below for more info.


ONE MATCH FIRE:

A sexy, summer camp-set reunion romance from debut author Lissa Linden

When Amy left her beloved summer camp, heartbroken and ashamed, she swore she’d never return. Twelve years later, she’s desperate to unearth the person she was before turning into a workaholic. When her old camp advertises for a new director, Amy leaps at the chance to start over—only to find herself face-to-face with the very guy who broke her heart.

Paul hasn’t forgotten kissing Amy beneath a shooting star, or how she bolted from camp without saying goodbye. When she shows up to take the job he never thought he’d leave, Paul can hardly believe his luck. Amy is now a woman with killer curves and a sexual appetite to match. With serious vibes between them, and him nearly dead from the celibacy of life at camp, they strike a deal for a few days of sexy fun in the wilderness.

But when feelings that started long ago enter the mix and it becomes clear Amy will only trust him with her body—not her heart—Paul desperately wants to break through the armor she’s built to protect herself. And although Amy knows there’s something special about the way she reacts to Paul, something beyond skin on skin, the stakes are high enough to scare her.

With a past like theirs, they’ll either ignite a future…or burn out for good.

 

About Lissa:

Lissa Linden writes contemporary romance about women she’d like to hang out with, and the men who can keep up with them. When she’s not writing, she’s either reading, traveling, or reading about traveling. Luckily, her husband is completely on board with spontaneously booking trips to say, eastern Europe. A proud history and languages nerd, Lissa is fluent in Shakespearean insults and dirty jokes through the ages.

 

Lisa can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: https://lissalinden.com/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/Lissa_Linden
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17470446.Lissa_Linden
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book: https://www.carinapress.com/shop/books/9781488097041_one-match-fire.html

More Successful Query Letters:

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Dianne Freeman’s Successful Twitter Pitch Query

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Dianne Freeman’s Successful Twitter Pitch Query

Dianne it’s fantastic to welcome you to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your Twitter querying experience with us, which is different to the usual route, but becoming such a popular way of querying. Also a very big thanks, for sharing your Twitter pitch, that lead to you getting that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better! And I love that this example is of a different method of querying!

Thanks so much for having me, Maddison.

 

So let’s begin with your Twitter Pitch itself, and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your Twitter Pitch?

Not counting the time I sat staring at it, willing it to write itself, I’d say 5 hours or so over the course of a week.

 

  • Did you revise your pitch at all during the twitter query process?

Oh, yes! I did a first draft in 30 minutes, but condensing it into 50 words that both conveyed the storyline and the spirit of the story was a slow and painful process. I finally settled on 55 words for the pitch, and had to remove five words from the first page. It’s a process.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started tweeting your pitch to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

Because it was a contest, all the agents were able to view my submission and request pages at the same time. I started getting requests immediately.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

20

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Ultimately, I received 19 rejections. Two came within a day. The manuscript just wasn’t for them. It was disappointing but I wasn’t surprised. I hoped someone would love it, but I knew not to expect everyone to love it. After Melissa offered representation, I “nudged” the remaining agents who had fulls and partials and they all eventually stepped aside. By that time, I was so thrilled with Melissa’s vision for the book and the series, I was perfectly happy to let them.

 

  • Did you personalize each pitch/submission?

When I submitted, absolutely.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

This is so embarrassing—I was a nervous wreck. And I really don’t know why. I had no problem with rejection, but as soon as someone showed interest, I choked. It took a full ten minutes into the call before I could speak in complete sentences and even longer before I relaxed enough to ask questions. Poor Melissa. I still marvel that she didn’t just hang up on me.

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

We discussed both our visions for the book.

Whether she was interested in representing just this book or future work.

We discussed her process, both for editing and submission.

After the call, she sent me a contract and we went over that via e-mail.

There were more questions, but those were the important ones for me.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

I wish I’d asked her if she’d be willing to read and comment on my future work. I really value Melissa’s feedback, but when I finished book 2, I was nervous about asking her. (Again, with the nerves!)

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

First, get feedback on your query before sending it out. Lots of feedback. If your friends don’t understand it, neither will an agent. Second, don’t take rejection to heart. Third, don’t panic when someone says, yes!

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

Here is my agent’s response as to why she requested the manuscript from me:

I was attracted to Dianne’s pitch and sample because the joy and effervescent spirit that embody A LADY’S GUIDE were already so apparent in that short introduction to her work. There is a light touch– a bounciness, a sparkle– to the writing that makes it clear that this book is going to be a delight to behold. The subject matter itself already intrigued me, because I enjoy stories about Victorian England and have a soft spot for mysteries, but when you add that special timbre that Dianne employs? It just jumps off the page. I think this is an important lesson for queriers. Try to match the tone of your query to the tone of your manuscript. If your book is spooky, your query should be so as well. If your book is lyrical and full of imagery, so too should be your query. Dianne’s book is funny and irreverent, and her pitch echoes that perfectly. I specifically loved the image of a gossip circle of Victorian women solving a murder. The incongruence of the image just gets me. Further, the sample itself is snappy, yet descriptive. We can so easily picture the scene, wherein Frances is setting these gowns aside, tired of black crepe, frustrated with her current lot in life, but oh so ready to improve it! And that is where the novel comes in!

 

Thanks so much Dianne for sharing your Successful Twitter Pitch with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path. I’m sure it will also encourage others to enter Twitter Pitch events in the future!

And for those of you who want to have a read of Dianne’s awesome book ‘A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder’, it’s scheduled for release on June 26th, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

About Dianne:

Dianne Freeman is a life-long book lover who left the world of corporate finance to pursue her passion for writing. After co-authoring the non-fiction book, Haunted Highway, The Spirits of Route 66, she realized her true love was fiction, historical mystery in particular. She also realized she didn’t like winter very much so now she and her husband pursue the endless summer by splitting their time between Michigan and Arizona.

Dianne can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: https://difreeman.com/
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/DianneFreemanAuthor/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/Difreeman001
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/diannefreemanwrites/
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17347322.Dianne_Freeman

More Successful Query Letters:

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Negeen Papehn’s Successful Query Letter

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Negeen Papehn’s Successful Query Letter

Negeen it’s wonderful to welcome you to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your querying experience with us. Also a very big thanks, for sharing your successful query letter, that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thanks, for having me, Madisson! I hope my answers and my query sample will help authors when they’re stuck in their own query trenches. The entire process is tedious and torturous in my opinion. 🙂

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

I put it off for a really long time, because frankly, it terrified me. But when I finally sat down to do it, I spent a week researching successful query letters on-line trying to figure out what the secret was. Once I felt like I had a semi-decent grasp of what it needed to include, I wrote a draft. From there, I edited; took me three versions before I was ready to get some input. I had a few fellow author friends read it for me and give me some feedback. Then I modified again. All in all, I think it was about a month or so until it was submit ready.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

No, I didn’t. I got my fair share of rejections, but I was lucky to have a handful of personalized emails instead of the industry standard ones we usually get. They specified changes that needed to be done on the MS but none referred to the query. I hated writing it so much, I refused to deal with it again unless absolutely necessary. I just focused on working on my MS based on the feedback.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

I received my first full request about four weeks after I sent in my first set of submissions.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I had five requests. Two partials and three fulls.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Of course I did! I think we all do. It was hard, I won’t lie. I was new to the writing world and questioning if I even belonged there. So with each rejection, my confidence plummeted. There were times the sting of the most recent rejection left me deflated and ready to give up. I was fortunate to have a strong support system, though, that wouldn’t let me quit. I was reminded that getting requests at all, was an accomplishment. Especially as quickly as I had. They encouraged me to keep going. If it weren’t for them, I may have thrown in the towel.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I just made a word document. It was the easiest way for me to keep track. I’d make a note of the agent/editor’s name, the agency/publisher they were with, the date I sent it in and then I’d follow up with dates of their responses and what, if anything, they’d requested. And when the rejections came, I put those in too.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

It varied a bit depending on how much time I had and how long of a list I had made. But on average, 10-15 at a time.

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I used MS Wish List quite a bit. I’d do searches under my genre and make a list of potential agents/editors that fit the parameters of my novel. I also followed various contests on twitter and saw what was being requested there too. Once I’d compiled a nice size group of potentials, I’d find them on their websites and read up further to make sure the pairing made sense, before I submitted to them.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

I wasn’t familiar enough with the agents/editors to be able to make a reference that was worthy enough to mention. I felt like making a comment about something I’d researched only made the entire process less personal than it already was. I just addressed it to their name and went right into the query. But that’s my personal preference. I know other’s opinions vary. There’s no right or wrong way to do this.

Now, though, when I’m ready to start submitting on my next novel, I know more people in the industry and have interacted with some enough to personalize some of the submission.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

My ‘call’ was actually an email. My editor lives overseas, so the email came in at some ungodly hour. I think it was like 2AM my time, or something like that. I was obviously asleep being that it was a Thursday J So I saw it pop up on my phone when I went to turn my alarm off. I didn’t immediately look at it, preparing myself for the worse. I’d already gotten a handful of rejections at that point, and was assuming it was just more of the same. I got my kids up and ready for school. When I finally made it to my bathroom to start putting myself together for work, I couldn’t resist any longer. I took a deep breath and opened the email. My eyes scanned the first two lines quickly, bracing myself for the disappointment that I’d become accustomed to. But instead of ‘thanks but no thanks,’ it was ‘thanks and we want you.’ I started screaming, which brought my husband running, thinking something terrible had happened. I was squealing and jumping up and down when I told him the news. Then I sent a text message to my family, spent my forty-minute drive to work on the phone with my sister-in-law, and then blabbed it to my boss and all my co-workers. It was definitely a good day 🙂

 

  • Did you have multiple offers for either representation or publication, and if so, how did you decide who you were going to accept?

Sadly, I only received one offer.

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

It was all so new to me so I think I asked a million questions and understood very few of the answers, LOL. I asked about the actual process of publishing, the various steps/phases the book would go through. I wanted to know my own roll, what would be expected of me. I also wanted to know how much creative control I would have along the way. With my current publisher, I have quite a bit. I asked about their marketing strategies as well. That part was hard for me to follow, to be honest. Once I reviewed the contract, there were a few questions there and a couple modifications we agreed on together.

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

I wish I would have known more about what the marketing aspect of the entire process entailed so that I could have asked more detailed questions and understood what I was going to be responsible for. From writing the first draft, to publishing, it’s been a whirlwind for me. Everything has felt like it’s been moving at light speed. I find myself lost and frustrated quite frequently when it comes to all the avenues we as authors, must use to market ourselves. If I had a better understanding in the beginning, I may not feel as overwhelmed about it now.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

As far as writing the query letter goes, try and think of it as an in depth back cover blurb. It needs to be enticing enough to grab the reader’s attention, agent/editor included. Do some research. There are a lot of sites that have sample query letters. I tried to find successful ones in my genre to use as a template.

And ultimately, don’t let the rejections get you down. They suck; I get it. The sting is worse with each one that arrives, but hang in there. Your story will light a spark for someone, you just have to keep going.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

Landing an agent is tough. I wasn’t able to do it with my first book and I don’t know if I will with my other ones. But that doesn’t define us as authors. There’s a whole business model that goes into what an agent picks up. Ultimately, it needs to be mainstream and it needs to sell. Sometimes, the genre we write just isn’t the ‘in’ thing at the moment. But that changes. Don’t give up.

 

Thanks so much Negeen for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Negeen’s awesome book ‘Forbidden By Faith’, it’s scheduled for release on Feb 20th, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

 

 

About Negeen:

Negeen Papehn was born and raised in southern California, where she currently lives with her husband and two rambunctious boys. She wasn’t always a writer. A graduate of USC dental school, Negeen spends half of her week with patients and the other half in front of her laptop. In the little time she finds in between, she loves to play with her boys, go wine tasting with her friends, throw parties, and relax with her family.
Her debut novel FORBIDDEN BY FAITH will be out with City Owl Press February of 2018

 

Negeen can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: www.negeenpapehn.com
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/NegeenPapehn/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/NegeenPapehn
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/negeenpapehn/
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17379780.Negeen_Papehn
Buy link for your latest or soon to be released book: Amazon: http://smarturl.it/FLove1Amz

Amazon Print: http://smarturl.it/FLove1AmzPrt

BN: http://smarturl.it/FLove1BN

Kobo: http://smarturl.it/FLove1Kobo

Apple: http://smarturl.it/FLove1iBooks

Google: http://smarturl.it/FLove1Google

 

More Successful Query Letters:

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Sara Ackerman’s Successful Query Letter

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Sara Ackerman’s Successful Query Letter

Sara it’s fantastic to welcome you to my blog, and thank you so much for sharing your querying experience with us. Also a very big thanks, for sharing your successful query letter, that got you that coveted YES. I know many aspiring authors out there will be supremely grateful for your generosity in sharing, because let’s face it, for most of us the querying process is daunting, and the more successful examples out there, the better!

Thank you!  Having been through it all, I love to talk writing and share my experiences.

 

So let’s begin with your query letter itself and then we’ll get into the questions:

 

  • How long did you spend writing your query letter?

This is my fourth novel, so I had spent countless hours on previous letters for my other books that did not get me an agent. Honestly, I have no idea.  I just know that it was A LOT of time pulling my hair out and going bleary eyed in front of the computer.

 

  • Did you revise your query letter at all during the querying process?

Yes, I did, many times. I also asked friends for feedback to help me figure out what worked.  One editor friend told me she had no idea what the book was about after reading my first one, which I had already sent to about five agents.  I revised several times after hearing that.

 

  • How long did it take you from when you started querying to when you got your first partial or full manuscript (ms) request?

Again, since this was book number four, a long time.  But with this book, right away I got several full requests. Even with the query letter my editor friend said she had no idea what it was about, lol.  That was when I knew I was on to something.  Also, mid way through, I hired a wonderful editor and it was only after a major developmental edit that I got my agent.

 

  • How many partial and full ms requests did you receive?

I think possibly six to eight?  They were all full requests.

 

  • Did you receive any rejections, and if so how did you cope?

Yes, tons. The ones who didn’t pick me had various reasons, but most just said they didn’t love it the way they needed to in order to take me on.  Not a lot of constructive feedback and I was about at the giving up point when I got my agent.

 

  • Did you use any particular software, or system for keeping track of the queries you sent out?

I made a Query spreadsheet on Excel.

 

  • How many query letters did you send out at a time?

About five at a time, starting with top tier agents.  But one thing I really wish I had done, and I am embarrassed to say, is that I was not on Publisher’s Marketplace.  I would have been way better informed if I had looked at this. You should join this for sure if you are querying.  Fortunately, my agency is highly ranked. 

 

  • How did you choose who you sent your query letter to?

I googled and looked at agents of books I liked.  I also followed a lot of agents on Twitter.

 

  • Did you personalize each one?

Yes, always.

 

  • Can you tell us a bit about when you received ‘the call’?

I sent the query to one agent at the Knight Agency, but Deidre Knight herself emailed me (she was very fast at getting back) and said that they were reading my manuscript in the office out loud and they loved it.  I nearly fainted.  She said that she had too much on her plate but another agent at her agency (Elaine Spencer) had been looking for something just like my book and wanted to speak to me about representation.  It all felt very surreal and of course I was in tears and overjoyed. 

 

  • Did you have multiple offers for either representation or publication, and if so, how did you decide who you were going to accept?

I had a few fulls out and I did notify the other agents, but I had already made up my mind. And Mira was the only publisher in our first round that offered a deal, but they are such a great publisher, I was thrilled. You only need one!

 

  • What questions did you ask when speaking with the agent/acquiring editor that you were considering?

I had already researched the agency, so I was just thrilled that they wanted my book. The whole agency seemed enthusiastic, so that was a big plus. 

 

  • What questions do you wish you’d ask, but didn’t?

Can’t think of anything off the top of my head.

 

  • Any advice and top tips for others about the querying process and writing the query letter itself?

Study back cover copy and model yours after successful ones in the same genre.  Keep it simple and catchy.  Which, obviously, is far easier said than done.  And of course, my motto is Patience and Perseverance.  I had that posted on my wall throughout the whole process. I still do.  The work never ends, but it sure is worth it if you love writing as much as I do.

 

  • Anything else you want to add?

I am a big believer in visioning your life how you want it to be.  Dream big and you won’t be disappointed.

 

Thanks so much Sara for sharing your Successful Query Letter with us, as well as your road on the querying journey!! It was wonderful to read and I’m sure will inspire many other authors out there, who are about to embark on the querying path 🙂

And for those of you who want to have a read of Sara’s awesome book ‘Islands of Sweet Pies and Soldiers’, it’s scheduled for release on Feb 13th, 2018. Click on the pic below for more info.

 

About Sara:

Born and raised in Hawaii, Sara studied journalism and later earned graduate degrees in psychology and Chinese medicine.  Prior to practicing acupuncture, she worked as a high school counselor and teacher on the famed north shore of Oahu, where surf often took precedence over school.  She is the author of six novels –  Island of Sweet Pies and Soldiers, Fallen WaterVolcano House, The Ranch at Redwater, Salt and Seaweed, and Honeycreepers – with several more itching to be written.  She blames Hawaii for her addiction to writing, and see no end to its untapped stories.

A few of her favorite things, in no particular order – hiking, homemade PIZZA, a good thunderstorm, stargazing, BOOKS, craft beer, her wonderful BOYFRIEND, surfing, mountain streams, her friends, and ANIMALS.  In fact, animals inhabit all of her novels in some way, shape or form – dogs, donkeys, sea turtles, a featherless chicken, endangered Hawaiian crows, horses, and even a lion.  When she’s not writing or practicing acupuncture, you’ll find her in the mountains or in the ocean, which is where most of her inspiration happens.

 

Sara can be found on the following platforms:

Website address: www.Ackermanbooks.com
Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/ackermanbooks/
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/AckermanBooks
Instagram link: https://www.instagram.com/saraackermanbooks/
Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16914230.Sara_Ackerman

 

More Successful Query Letters:

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