Publishing Tips: The Ever-Dreaded Query

Publishing Tips: 

The Ever-Dreaded 

Query time! As promised here is another query that worked and snagged me a publisher. The letter itself is in blue with red explaining the method to my madness. I hope it helps you craft your own.

Dear AGENT or REPRESENTATIVE (in response to #PitMad), (here, I had to tag the publishing rep to remind her she had requested my query during this Twitter pitch party)

The Selection meets Poison Study. Toury arrives in Fyr where magic is power, a prince’s love is deadly, and female autonomy is a dream. Prince Alex realizes Toury can break his curse and save his people, but Earth girls aren’t so easy. (This was my pitch I used during #PitMad. I have a post on this pitch itself here)

Let me introduce you to Fyr, book one of the YA fantasy romance trilogy Celestial Spheres, which is 86k words. (This is common to get to the point so the reader doesn't waste time or can pass it on to someone who works with that genre if he/she doesn't. You do need work count, genre, and title. Note how I warned them it would be a trilogy but said nothing about having written more than this one. Agents always say to never say you have more books lying around as it sounds like an inability to snag a deal). Toury, an unloved loner thrust into a new world, realizes this fire sphere is not all it’s cracked up to be, with its strict rules in propriety and young marriageable age. Then she makes the gravest mistake of all by offending an ogler who just happens to be the Prince. Alex, the Prince of Fyr, has many challenges to conquer such as his father’s ailing health, the pressure to marry soon, and the hidden necromancers trying to take over the realm with dark magic he is vulnerable to because he’s cursed. But there’s hope in a cheeky earth girl savior who deems her independence as more important than a suit from him. Together they can break the curse and save the world, but cooperation is difficult due to Alex robbing Toury of her freedom, her ignorance of their world and her own powers, and their enemies’ nefarious plans. And worst of all, Alex learns the only way to break the curse is through true love, not the kind of magic he can conjure but must earn. They must risk their lives, hearts, and futures to save the land from a darkness of apocalyptic proportions. (This is the synopsis portion and was one of the hardest I've had to write yet. As you can tell, it is a complicated plot and a dual point of view, each character having multiple conflicts to deal with. I started with something twice this length and then cut out words, combined ideas, regrouped them according to character to simplify and boil it down).

Transforming Renaissance astronomical theory into a fantastical world and love story seems an arduous task, but having BA’s in English, Dramatic Arts, and an MA in English, gives me a vast background of knowledge of character and world building. I’ve published the story “A Jaded Life” (Circumambulations literary journal), the novella “Dare” in the Kissed anthology (Evernight Teen) and have a novel Apidae (Evernight Teen) debuting this winter. I’m also a college Lecturer and strongly believe in the effectiveness of publicity through social media, and use a blog and other digital venues. However, living in the deep south, I am looking for official representation in the publishing world to champion my full-length manuscripts. It would be a pleasure to be a part of a start-up company, taking a lucrative journey together from the very beginning. (This section doesn't vary much in my queries since it is my credentials that do not really change. I did add a novel in this one that was coming out since that was new. In this section, you want to give them any relevant information that lends you credibility when it comes to writing. This is hard if you do not have any works or degrees in English, so you may have to get creative. My first ever query discussed my degrees only and how I taught the age group of my audience, and it did get a few responses but no contracts. The point is, put what you can. If there's nothing to put, think about trying to publish some shorter works or entering contests).

I look forward to hearing from you soon and humbly thank you for your time.(Here you might want to add some phrasing asking if you can send them your full-length manuscript or something in addition to whatever they asked for with this query. Pay attention to their submissions website. My publisher asked for the entire manuscript, so there was no need to ask. Some ask for first 3 chapters, 50 pages, a 2 page synopsis, etc. If they do not ask for the entire thing, then ask them if they want it.)


Lisa Borne Graves

(Social media accounts are necessary these days to prove you can market, your own website or blog looks even better. It only costs me $12/year for my own domain name. If you do have published books, having author accounts on Goodreads and Amazon are imperative too. All these show you are serious about selling your work and will work as hard as your publisher in doing so).

I hope this helps you craft your own and please comment with questions or suggestions about what you'd like me to tackle next when it comes to writing and publishing. In a few months, I will post another successful query--incidentally, my first query ever written. This will be my last query for a while as I'm now on a submission basis with my publisher without a need to query (which feels amazing).

If interested in reading book 1 of Celestial SpheresFyr, you can now purchase the book here.