Hello gentle reader,
Welcome to the Successful Queries Blog Series! The idea is to share with you Queries That Worked and to find out what made them stand out in the slushpile. My hope is that it’ll help you, querying writers, to write an amazing query for your own manuscript and to find Your Agent.
Today Rhiann Wynn-Nolet is sharing her query and answering a few questions. Rhiann writes YA and NA fiction and she’s represented by Stefanie Lieberman of Janklow & Nesbit Associates.
TENDRIL is a dark YA Rapunzel meets The Collector story, set in present day Maine and complete at 67,000 words.
A family curse. Albinism. Hair that moves according to feelings and desires of its own. These are the heirlooms Opal MacBride inherits. The curse is painfully clear on two points—Opal will never find true love, and MacBride men may become indecently obsessed with her magical hair and alabaster skin.
When her grandmother dies, Opal’s uncle becomes her entirely unsuitable guardian. While seeking solace at her grandmother’s grave, she attracts a lonely, angry sixteen year old ghost. Shortly thereafter she meets his equally lonely, slightly sullen living brother. Despite unfavorable first impressions, romance blossoms. Soon she questions everything she was told about love and the curse.
Though the curse may be wrong about love, it is dreadfully accurate regarding Opal’s uncle. His obsession leads to a depraved scheme to make her a prisoner in his lighthouse. To save herself, Opal must foil his plot. To ensure a happy ending, she must choose between the two brothers she loves, and life in this world or eternal life in the next.
How long did it take you to write this query?
I worked on this query during the summer of 2012 and probably had 4 versions (The only one I saved was Query4 in my Word docs).
Did you have beta readers or CPs (or did you enter contests or workshops) to help you with your query?
Honestly I didn’t know query-writing advice was available when I started querying. I didn’t know about CPs or betas either. Sad, but true. “Social Media” was on my To Do List right after “Query TENDRIL”. But as soon as I stuck my toe into the Twitter stream, I heard about WriteOnCon 2012. During contests in summer/fall 2012 people gave me feedback. Besides WriteOnCon, there was GUTGAA, a Curiosity Quills contest, Agent Trick Or Treat, and some whose names I don’t remember. Several provided query advice.
What was the hardest part to get right?
Definitely plot. A number of well-meaning advisors told me I needed to figure out what the MAIN plot was—the love story or the MC vs. her creepy uncle. To me both were equally important and inextricably entwined plot arcs. I gave them equal time in my query.
Any advice for querying writers out there?
a. Avail yourself of all the “free” help out there, but don’t rush to make every change someone advises. In the end it’s YOUR query, YOUR chance to get an agent’s attention. Analyze who’s suggesting the change, whether it provides you with an “aha!” moment, whether more than one person makes the same suggestion, etc.
b. Experiment with a couple of different versions of your query –send out a small batch of Query 1 and a small batch of Query 2 to see which garners more interest.
c. Query in batches, because if you’re lucky enough to get requests for fulls/partials you can add that in to your next round of queries. In my experience, nothing makes an agent sit up and take notice faster than an indication that other agents are interested. If you find yourself in the enviable position of receiving an offer, then BY ALL MEANS nudge outstanding queries and query anyone you haven’t already (as long as it’s someone you’d like as an agent).
d. There is no “secret recipe” for writing the perfect query, and really your query doesn’t have to be perfect, just good enough to make the agent want to read the story.
Thank you so much for taking part in this blog series, Rhiann!
Querying Writers! Rhiann is giving away a QUERY CRITIQUE to one lucky winner! To enter, please fill in the form below with your name and email adresss, and include the genre of your mansucript. Good luck!
The giveaway is open internationally until Saturday 15th March 2014 at 11pm BST.
Any questions? Ask below!