Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Winning Query

A good query is a must for writers. They also happen to be what writers dread most of all. A query is you and your book's first impression, and we all know what they say about those pesky first impressions!

My latest contract is for a novella which was too short for agent representation, which meant I was on my own. Lots of nail biting and hair pulling as I put together my first-ever query for editors. I guess it was a good one because it got my manuscript read and contracted...within a week, I might add/brag.

So, here it is. My query for Dark Wolf Protector, along with some notes:

Dear Editor, <--- personalize this!

My manuscript, DARK WOLF PROTECTOR, is a paranormal romance with a southern flare. The work is complete and edited at approximately 24,000 words. Dark Wolf Protector is the first in, what I hope to be, a mini-series set in the fictional town of Tall Oaks, Alabama, titled *series name here*. Some of my characters are pleasantly southern, while others are downright redneck. Per your guidelines, I've attached the full manuscript.

Yellow: Misspelled word. Should've been flair. See? It doesn't have to be perfect! Editors will overlook even the dumbest of mistakes (as long as there aren't too many of them)!

Purple: Essentials--title, genre and word count.

Green: Pitching the series, keeping it short.

Blue: Tone of the story, adds flavor to query.

Red: Shows I actually read their guidelines and tried to adhere.

JACI WATERS, orphan and devoted animal rescuer, has her hands full when a rogue wolf invades her small, backwoods town of Tall Oaks, Alabama. Her goal is to not only protect her neighbors and fellow townsfolk, but to capture and relocate the trouble-making canine who's worn out his welcome. Too bad no one else agrees with her save-the-wolf credo. Little does she know, the wolf is more than meets the eye. He's here, in Tall Oaks, for Jaci. But he's not the only one...

DOLTON FREYE has come to the speck-sized town with one goal in mind: kill the blood-thirsty bastard who's stalking and out to get the woman he's sworn to protect--the sexy, Native American Jaci Waters. But he's got competition in IAN KINGSLEY, ringleader of a group that calls themselves "the pride" of Tall Oaks.

Sparks fly between Jaci and Dolton but risk fading when she learns of his true nature--a nature that runs deep in her own blood. A nature she herself must come to terms with in order to accept the intense connection she shares with the darkly handsome man who makes his way into her panties and her heart.

Blue: Brief description of characters and plot.

My contemporary romance novel, Bonded In Brazil, was contracted through Camel Press via my literary agent in November 2010 and is coming out in March 2011 in print as well as e-book. My agent does not represent shorter works, which is why I am querying you myself. I am avid reader and researcher of all genres of romance. I maintain an active blog that is growing in popularity, complete with author interviews, guest blogs and my own personal thoughts on the writing business. In an attempt to create a strong online presence and promote myself, I also have a website, social network, and am ever-growing my associations with others in the industry.

Blue: Publishing experience.

Purple: Says I have an agent and why she isn't the one querying the book, so they don't assume she rejected it.

Green: Shows I promote myself and am getting my name out there.

Look forward to hearing from you,

Rhiannon Ellis <---- Share all necessary information within the query. Do not direct to website "for more information." Include website and/or blog in case editor is curious about how you present yourself.

To conclude, this query had all essential elements editors are looking for. It also fit onto one, single-spaced page. It's nothing special, not too exciting. But it served its purpose, which was to convince an editor to read some of my pages--because the pages are where the real magic happens! Good luck in query hell.