So after months (and months, and months) of tweaking my query letter and sending it, I received my first partial request. Yippee!

Of course, I know this definitely doesn’t mark the end of this process, or any guarantee either way–it just means I’ve transcended one of the rungs on the ladder. The higher rungs that I’m yet to achieve include: a) A request for a full and  b) An offer of representation. All these rungs come and go at different times–and everyone’s journey is different.

Still, for those who are interested, below is the letter that earned a partial request (with my comments included):

Dear [redacted],

I stumbled upon your blog, [redacted],  when you posted about a relatively stinky query you received. (I wouldn’t copy this verbatim–instead, find something unique you’ve discovered about an agent of your choice and be sure to mention it right off the bat.) I was amused by your take on the matter, and when I saw that you were seeking science fiction and fantasy, I thought we might make a good professional fit. (This shows the agent that you have something to offer them, instead of expecting them to have something to offer you.) I’m currently seeking representation for TRISKELEON, a YA version of OUTLANDER crossed with A WRINKLE IN TIME. (Logline is at the end of the first paragraph).

In the land of Anderli, the trees are dying, the lake has disintegrated, and the fungus that ravaged the farmlands is showing signs of re-emerging. The stricken land’s fate lies with fifteen-year-old Marnie Sayebrooke from Spring Oak, California, taunted for her braces and frizzy hair. Marnie’s convinced she’s unimportant and invisible–until an ancient book and Triskeleon bracelet transport her across timelines to Anderli. (This is the crux of the query pitch–without this sentence, the rest of the plot can’t happen.) There, she discovers powers she inherited from the Momenta—a race of people with the ability to manipulate time and space. She also meets Quinn, a warlock-in-training, who she wishes would notice her as much as she does him. (Includes protagonist’s love interest.)

Before the land disintegrates, Marnie must discover which Anderlian works for Terrsarah, a powerful sorceress fueled by her hatred of Momenta. (Stakes–protagonist must do x before antagonist conquers all. Also includes antagonist’s motivation). With the help of Rags, a disheveled beggar with telepathic abilities, Marnie starts to grow into her new-found powers and believe in herself.  But when she discovers Rags’ true identity, she realizes the full implications of Terrsarah’s scheme—and if Anderli is destroyed, Marnie will not only lose the people and the land she now loves; the universe will ultimately unravel. (More stakes.)

TRISKELEON is a YA sci-fi/fantasy complete at 89,000 words. It is a stand-alone with series potential, and I’m currently at work on the sequel, tentatively titled STOLEN SIEVE. (Be sure to include title, genre, and word count. If the book is the start to a series, like this one, indicate that it can stand alone, but also imply that you are serious about writing other books besides it.)

Outside of my librarian job, I’ve been writing full-time since 2008, including reviews for Library Journal and Children’s Literature. This past January, I published a feature in School Library Journal entitled “What Teens are Really Reading” found here, which led to P.A.L. membership in SCBWI and furthered my knowledge of books that are most marketable to teens. I’ve also conducted writing workshops for NARWA, a division of RWA, and was asked to contribute a chapter to a forthcoming book entitled, Now Write! Speculative Fiction. On June 8, I will be featured on the website Dear Teen Me, where authors write letters to their teen selves. Finally, I received a scholarship to The Glen Workshop West, a writing workshop taking place in Santa Fe this August led by Sara Zarr. (Bio includes credentials and experience that indicate I’m serious about writing as a profession and I continually strive to become familiar with my potential audience.)

Please see below for a five-page excerpt and synopsis, per your submission guidelines. (Shows I’ve paid attention to their specifications.)

I hope to hear from you. Thank you for your time.



Karen McCoy

Twitter:  @WriterLibrarian
(contact information is included at the very end)

Granted, I know this letter isn’t a perfect formula, and what works for me may not work for others. And, it’s entirely possible that this letter won’t garner the same results with other agents. But it’s a nice conglomeration of the tips/lessons I’ve picked up along the way of tweaking my query letter, and I hope it helps all you fellow queriers out there!

Stay tuned on Friday, when I’ll be featuring the lovely Erin Kellison and her newest book, FIRE KISSED.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *