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 emails/letters, 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 Jessica Lawson. This great query connected her with her agent, Tina Wexler at ICM.
Mark Twain probably didn’t mean to be a big fat liar, but it’s about time somebody told the truth about whitewashing and treasure hunting (and a whole lot more, thank you very much). THE ACTUAL & TRUTHFUL ADVENTURES OF BECKY THATCHER is a 50,000-word middle grade retelling of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer written from Becky Thatcher’s point of view.
In 1860, 11-year-old Becky Thatcher’s immediate goals after moving to St. Petersburg, Missouri include never growing up and finding a way to keep the promise she made to her recently deceased brother, Jon. With a Mama still frozen by grief, Becky is free to explore the Mississippi riverbanks in a pair of Jon’s old overalls and spit all the cherry pits she can with new best friend, Amy Lawrence. Even the fact that the thieving, possibly murderous, Pritchard brothers are on the loose can’t keep Becky from sneaking out and causing mischief.
The girls decide to go up against the town charmer, Sid Sawyer, to win a bet on who can steal from Witchy Widow Douglas’s place (because it don’t count as stealing if a rumored witch is involved). With a plan as daring as the Mississippi is long, Becky might just get Mama to notice her again and fulfill her promise to Jon in a most dangerous and unexpected way…if that tattle-telling Tom Sawyer would quit following her around.
Jessica’s query tidbit:
Tina Wexler was one of the first agents I queried with The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. My query was tweaked throughout my process, so this isn’t the version that all agents saw. I remember cringing right after I sent this letter, because I was afraid it had too much voice and would come across as unprofessional. Everything worked out okay, though 🙂
Jessica Lawson is a member of the Rocky Mountain Chapter of SCBWI and her work has appeared in Stories For Children, The Motherhood Muse, The Denver Post, and Parenting Journals. She enjoys living/playing in the mountains of Colorado with her husband and children, and has to seasonally inform the landlord about bear damage to the trash bin at the end of her driveway. She writes middle grade, lots of to-do lists, and songs about diapers. She blogs at Falling Leaflets, http://fallingleaflets.blogspot.com and you can follow her on Twitter at @JS_Lawson.