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Queries and Agents => Query Help => Topic started by: coll on July 07, 2007, 09:34:48 PM

Title: Query Review by Nathan Bransford (agent at Curtis Brown)
Post by: coll on July 07, 2007, 09:34:48 PM
This was on Nathan Bransford's (agent at Curtis Brown) blog--I thought it was interesting.

Because today I am going to dissect a really good query letter and extoll its virtues. Let us all learn from Emily Conrad, who was both gracious enough to send me a good query letter and generous enough to let me use her as a guinea pig. A really good query letter writing guinea pig.

Without further adieu, here is her stellar query letter with my comments in brackets.

Dear Mr. Bransford:

[spells my name right, goes for the proper "Mr. Bransford" approach, which is always appreciated, doesn't call me Mr. Brown. Also, the salutation is in the same font as the rest of the e-mail, showing me that she did not just tack it on to a generic letter]

Sixteen-year-old Hannah's faith was seriously injured by the accident that killed her sister, so when her chance at popularity – senior Will Raditz – moves into the basement, she sets aside following God to fit in with boys, friends, and fashion trends. [Gets right to the point, condenses the essence of the plot into one sentence, and hooks me right away. Popular guy moves into the basement -- what's not to like???] Eventually, she must decide: is it time to pull the plug on faith? The 67,500 words of my inspirational young adult novel The Boy in the Basement follow Hannah's unique and often humorous journey to the answer of this question. [Boom. Tight, concise three sentence opening paragraph. Tells me the plot, genre, and leaves me wanting more.]

I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh's French and creative writing programs in January, 2005. While at the university, one of my short stories won the Eighteenth Annual Writing Competition. My poetry was published in Bellowing Ark (summer, 2004), and in The Wisconsin Review (summer, 2005). [Good solid writing credentials. Won awards, has been published in journals]

I chose to submit this novel for your consideration after I saw Emily Ever After listed on your MySpace page as a novel you wish you had represented. [Researched me individually! Not a generic query! Knows her work is up my alley!] Not only did I enjoy reading the book, but it is similar to my writing in that it represents a Christian who makes mistakes as she struggles to follow her beliefs in a world where it is easier to join the crowd. [Pulls my own preferences back to her own work. Subtle and effective.] You can read the first chapter of The Boy in the Basement on my website, www.emilyconradauthor.com. [Has a website!]Upon your request, I am prepared to send the complete manuscript. [Finished the manuscript before writing the query]

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you. [Polite and professional]

Sincerely,

Emily Conrad

[Bravo
Title: Re: Query Review by Nathan Bransford (agent at Curtis Brown)
Post by: Patrick on July 07, 2007, 11:18:38 PM
coll
I moved your post to its own thread so people could find it easier.
Title: Re: Query Review by Nathan Bransford (agent at Curtis Brown)
Post by: JeffCrook on July 08, 2007, 08:10:41 PM
FYI, apparently this agent liked the fact that the author directed them to a website to read the first chapter of the novel. But the other night I read another set of guidelines, for another agency, that stated explicitly NOT to direct them to a website to read your work.

Every agency is different. And every agent within every agency is different.



Title: Re: Query Review by Nathan Bransford (agent at Curtis Brown)
Post by: Lotheus on July 09, 2007, 11:46:31 AM
Thanks coll.  This is the kind of info that query writers need to see.