by Jill Williamson
This past summer, Roseanna White wrote a great post
called, What does the perfect queryletter look like? This is an excellent post with an excellent example. I like examples. And I think you do too. So I scavenged
up some more examples of query letters to post here today. These are three letters that worked. The books were published. I cut off the names and
addresses here for privacy, but make sure to include those in your own letters.
First is the query from Melanie Dickerson’s The Woodcutter’s Daughter, which became
the novel, The Healer’s Apprentice. Melanie
was an unpublished author when she submitted this letter to agent Mary Beth Chappell,
who agreed to represent her as a result of this submission.
Dear Ms. Chappell,
Woodcutter’s Daughter is an 88,000-word historical romance.
Sleeping Beauty meets Pride and Prejudice when a betrothed prince falls for a
woodcutter’s daughter whose secret identity endangers both their lives.
in fourteenth century Germany is low, so when the town healer asks her to
be her apprentice, she is determined not to ruin her chance at respectability.
The problem is, she gets sick at the sight of blood and is more suited to
making up stories than sewing up a gash. Lord Hamlin is honor-bound to wed
his betrothed, but when he is wounded by a wild boar, Rose is the only person
available to tend his injury. Against his will, Lord Hamlin is drawn
to her beauty and integrity, so much so that he devises a plan to end his
betrothal so he can marry Rose. In the end Lord Hamlin defeats
Moncore, his betrothed's enemy, and (... I [Jill] cut out the spoiler in case you haven't read the book!)
The Woodcutter’s Daughter won
first place in the 2007 Fiction From the Heartland Contest, finaled in the
Dixie First Chapter Contest, and won fourth place in the Gotcha! Contest's
I am a member of
Romance Writers of America (RWA), American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW),
and the assistant coordinator for the ACFW book club, which reaches over 500
Christian fiction readers. My short stories and articles have appeared in
national children and teen publications. I have an active blog, www.MelanieWrites.blogspot.com.
Please allow me to send
a synopsis and the first three chapters of The Woodcutter’s Daughter for your
consideration. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
Melanie did a great job. She gave the title and length right up front. Then she gave a great hook. "Sleeping Beauty meets Pride and Prejudice." Brilliant. She also gives a tight one-paragraph synopsis, mentions that the story finaled in a contest, then ends with her professional writing affiliations and that she's published some articles and short stories. She also says what she wants at the end: "Please allow me to..." That's important. This was a great letter.
Second is my query letter for Prince Gidon, which became By Darkness Hid. I was, technically, an unpublished writer when I submitted
this letter to Jeff. I had been planning to publish Jason Farms, which became
Replication, with a small press. (So glad I waited!) I did write an early
reader missionary book for my church, which isn’t exactly a novel. And I had
published several articles.
Dear Mr. Gerke:
Bloodvoicing is a gift,
an endowment to communicate from one gifted mind to another. For a slave to
have the gift is unheard of, yet one slave has more power than all the rest
young adult fantasy novel, Prince Gidon tells the story of two young
people with a unique, ancestral ability to speak to, and hear, the minds of
others: a slave forced to serve a prince who wants him dead and a young woman
masquerading as a boy to avoid a forced marriage. The novel alternates between
their points of view until their stories collide on the battlefield.
from the steady stream of medieval fantasy novels on the bestseller lists,
young adult readers remain fascinated by epic fantasy adventures. Projects
similar to mine like Eragon, Dragonspell, Chosen, and The
Bark of the Bog Owl bring a fun mixture of fantasy and faith to the
have two books contracted. Jason Farms will be released in spring 2009
(a young adult suspense novel from The Wild Rose Press), and A Mango and a Mud
Church will be released in 2010 (an “all
reader” book from Beacon Hill Press). My articles have appeared in Brio,
Brio & Beyond, Shine Brightly, and Devo’Zine. My
husband and I have worked with teens in the youth pastor role for nine years. I
researched medieval life and swordsmanship for three months before I started to
write this novel and can provide a works cited page.
If the premise appeals to you, I would be happy to
meet with you to discuss the project. My agent, Terry Burns at Hartline Literary
Agency, can provide a marketing proposal and the complete 96,000-word
Enc. Synopsis, One Sample Chapter
Jeff told me that this was one of the best letters he'd seen. What impressed him was my opening hook paragraph. He also liked the "...until their stories collide on the battlefield" line. In my letter, I tell very little about the actual plot. But it was enough to bait Jeff to want to see more. I mentioned the market and some successful titles from the time. I also gave my publishing credits paragraph and ended with what I wanted from him.
Finally, Cara Putman’s letter for A Fort Robinson Summer, which became Sandhill Dreams, book two in her series with Heartsong Presents. This letter is a little different because it is for a book two. Cara was already published when she submitted this letter.
Enclosed please find three sample chapters for A
Fort Robinson Summer as well as a detailed synopsis and chapter by chapter
A Fort Robinson Summer
is the story of Lainie Gardner and Thomas Beckner and the challenges they
experience on the home front during World War II. Lainie is Audrey’s best
friend in Canteen Dreams, and a year
has passed from the end of that book and the beginning of this one. Lainie and
Tom’s story is told with the K-9 Training Camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska,
serving as the backdrop. During World War II half of the K-9s used in the army
during the war were trained at Ft. Robinson, a quartermaster post tucked in the
northwestern corner of Nebraska near South Dakota and Wyoming.
From the moment Lainie and Tom meet, sparks hot
enough to light the prairie on fire fly between the two. Tom is assigned to
train the dogs that have been sent to the army by a patriotic public. The only
problem is he’s deathly afraid of dogs after being bit by one as a child.
Lainie travels to Fort Robinson to find a civilian job at the post after her
plan to ship overseas with the Army Nurses Corp. is ended by illness. A Fort
Robinson Summer tells the story of their romance.
It is my pleasure to submit this proposal for your
consideration. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Have a blessed day!
Because Cara didn't have to sell herself as a writer, she didn't need to mention word count, give a premise hook, or publishing credits. She was simply able to focus on the plot. She gave two paragraphs about the story and ended with her request.
What do you guys think? Any questions?