Mindee Arnett
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Query Letter Example and Tips

As part of my prep for my first writers conference as a presenter, I’ve decided to repost this old post below where I share my query letter and some general tips. Hope you find it useful.

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So a couple of people have asked about the query letter for The Nightmare Affair, which helped me in my quest to sign with my agent of awesome, Suzie Townsend. (Note: I refuse to use the phrase “land an agent,” because Suzie totally isn’t a fish. Seriously, she’s more of a rockstar.)

Here it is folks, a copy of the email I sent to Suzie:

Dear Ms. Townsend:

16-year-old Dusty Everhart might make a regular habit of breaking into houses late at night, but she’s no criminal. She is a Nightmare, a magical being who must feed on the dreams of others, and in doing so experience those dreams, too. But when her latest dreamer, Eli Booker, the hot guy from her old high school, turns out to be dreaming about a murder which shortly comes true, she goes from non-criminal to reluctant crime fighter.

Dusty learns that together she and Eli posses the rare ability to predict the future through dreams. They are soon enlisted by the magickind government to help identify the person killing sutdents at Dusty’s high school, Arkwell Academy, a secret school for magickind. Now Dusty and Eli must follow the clues both within Eli’s dreams and out of them to stop the killer before more people turn up dead. And before the killer learns what they’re up to and marks them as the next target.

Complete at 76,400 words, The Nightmare Affair is a YA contemporary fantasy, which I like to think of as Veronica Mars meets Hex Hall. Per your submission guidelines, I have included the first 10 pages below.

My short stories have appeared in various semi-pro magazines, including Happy, and I have received an honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. I have a Masters of Arts in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing. On a personal note, I follow both your blog and twitter account and thoroughly enjoy both. I think your First Page Shooter endeavor is invaluable.

I look forward to hearing from you soon. Thank you for your time and consideration

Sincerely,

Mindee Arnett

<contact info>

I hope this letter is self-explanatory, but as always, feel free to ask me questions. Also, here’s a list of some things I considered important in my agent submission process which you might find useful too:

  • Know and understand the invidual guidelines for EVERY agent you query.
  • Unless those guidelines say otherwise, put the pitch paragraphs first in the query. Agents are short are time. Don’t make them wade through the intro unless they specifically want to.
  • Send yourself test emails to make sure the formatting comes through properly. Be sure to view them on your iPhone or other device as this is how a lot of agents view them.
  • Add a personal note so long as it’s honest and relevant.
  • Follow the agents (twitter, blog, etc) you want to work with, and be sure to mention it. (Not long after Suzie had the full manuscript of Nightmare, she started following me on twitter, and WOW, was that a GREAT feeling.)
  • Keep the pitch short and precise. Trust me, there’s a whole lot more to Nightmare than what’s suggested in this pitch. But I resisted the tempation to try and tell the whole story in two paragraphs. Just razzle-dazzle them with as little as possible (i.e. the heart of the conflict and who it’s happening to).
  • Query in small increments. I sent out only 5 queries at 1 time. If every one gets rejected, take another look at the query.

(BONUS: Wanna see what happens after you sign with an agent and the book goes on submission? You can read the pitch here.)

Filed under: Nightmare Affair, Query Tips