Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font  

From the Query to the Call_The Query Process Made Easy, Page 5

Elana Johnson

  Do you have any similar books to ours on your list?

  Do you have specific editors in mind who you think will like it?

  How does the revision process work? Ask about revisions – will you just send us a copy of the MS marked up with suggested rewrites?

  Do you prefer to communicate via e-mail? How often will you be in touch when we’re on submission?

  Will the current economic environment make it difficult to sell a debut?

  When will you decide to give up on an MS? If you can’t sell TITLE, will you look at other work for us?

  What questions do you have for me?

  When I sat down to write my query letter, I had several spread out over the counter. Remember that?

  Well, me being a QueryTracker girl, that’s where I found the query letters.

  There are many more success stories and successful queries since I started this process, so be sure to check them out.

  QT Success Stories

  Katie Anderson’s Full Query for KISS & MAKE-UP (now published by Skyscape/Amazon):

  When a girl looks into a boy's eyes, she hopes to see his soul, but when sixteen year old Emerson Taylor kisses a boy's lips, she also sees his past.

  Emerson Taylor is sixteen and a kissing virgin, much to her complete and utter horror - until one day when she and some friends play an innocent game of Spin the Bottle. While her first kiss is brief and nothing special, what she discovers shortly afterward is definitely special.

  When Emerson kisses a boy, she can see his past. And it doesn't take her long to figure out how to kiss and steal test answers, gossip and secrets... But the kiss that will rock her world is the kiss she carefully plans after her BFF disappears without a trace. For this kiss, she will have to seduce her beffie's creepy boyfriend, make him fall for her and then make-out with him, all while evading her own boyfriend - and what she sees in that one kiss will change everything!

  KISS & TELL is a 49,000 word YA novel that just won the Query Tracker logline contest as well as an honorable mention in the most recent Miss Snark First Pages contest. I've also recently been contacted by a scout for Warner Brother's Pictures with interest in this book.

  I live in Oxford, Mississippi (a big Southern writers' community, as you probably know), and am a member of the SCBWI with a background in marketing and advertising. Following is the first chapter. In addition to writing YA, I have written several picture books, a graphic novel and a screenplay. If you need anything further, please let me know.

  Thanks for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you.

  Best wishes,

  Lisa and Laura Roecker’s Full Query for LIAR SOCIETY (now published by Sourcebooks Fire):

  Kate Lowry didn't think dead best friends could send e-mails. Not even on the anniversary of their disappearance. Of course, that was before this message from Grace appeared in her inbox:


  I'm here…

  sort of.

  Find Christian.

  He knows.

  I shouldn't be writing.

  Don't tell.

  They'll hurt you.

  Most girls would ignore the warning and go straight to the police.

  But Kate isn’t most girls.

  Instead, she decides to channel Nancy Drew, pearls and all. Of course, Kate’s pearls are faux, her skirts are way shorter and she’d take everyone's favorite teen detective in a girl fight, but you get the idea.

  The e-mails continue and Kate’s quest to solve the mystery takes a dangerous turn when her confrontation with Christian, Grace’s addict brother, almost gets her killed. Good thing she finds a couple of knights-in-(not so)-shining armor in sexy bad boy, Liam, and her awkward neighbor, Seth. Armed with her newfound sidekicks, the investigation continues, uncovering a secret lurking in the halls of their elite private school that threatens to destroy them all.

  Kate knew finding Grace wasn’t going to be easy, but figuring out who to trust is more difficult than she ever could have imagined.

  After all, everyone’s a suspect.

  We are sisters-turned-writing-partners. FINDING GRACE is a 53,000 word YA Mystery. Upon your request, we are prepared to submit the complete manuscript. We look forward to hearing from you.

  Lisa and Laura

  My Full Query for POSSESSION (now published with Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster):

  Dear Ms. Kaffel,

  I recently read an interview you gave on the Guide to Literary Agents blog. You said you’re “interested in any character who feels like an outsider, a misfit, anyone struggling to figure out who he or she is or how to exist outside his or her comfort zone.” Based on this, I believe you would be interested in my young adult novel, CONTROL ISSUES.

  In a world where Thinkers brainwash the population and Rules are not meant to be broken, fifteen-year-old Violet Schoenfeld does a hell of a job shattering them to pieces.

  After committing her eighth crime (walking in the park after dark with a boy, gasp!), Vi is taken to the Green, a group of Thinkers who control the Goodgrounds. She’s found unrehabilitatable (yeah, she doesn’t think it’s a word either) and exiled to the Badlands—until she demonstrates her brainwashing abilities. That earns her a one-way trip to appear before the Association of Directors.

  Yeah, right. Like that’s gonna happen. She busts out of prison with sexy Bad boy Jag Barque, who also has no intention of fulfilling his lame ass sentence.

  Dodging Greenies and hovercopters, dealing with absent-father issues, and coming to terms with feelings for an ex-boyfriend—and Jag as a possible new one—leave Vi little time for much else. Which is too damn bad, because she’s more important than she realizes. When secrets about her “dead” sister and not-so-missing father hit the fan, Vi must make a choice: control or be controlled.

  A dystopian novel for young adults, CONTROL ISSUES is complete at 83,000 words. Fans of Lois Lowry’s THE GIVER and Suzanne Collins’ THE HUNGER GAMES will enjoy similar elements, and a strong teen voice.

  I am an elementary school teacher by day and a contributing author of the QueryTracker blog by night. If you would like to consider CONTROL ISSUES, I’d be happy to forward the complete manuscript to you. I have included the first ten pages of the manuscript in the body of this email.

  Thank you for your time and consideration,

  Elana Johnson

  My query for a fantasy novel I'm currently shopping to agents. Notice the change in bio.

  Dear Mr. Ourvan,

  I read on your website that you “interests include thriller, horror, speculative and science fiction, young adult, and middle grade.” Because of that, I’m hoping that you’ll be interested in my young adult fantasy, ECHOES OF SILENCE.

  Eighteen-year-old Echo del Toro doesn’t know about the bride-choosing festivities the tyrannical Prince of Nyth has planned—until she’s taken from her home by five armed soldiers. She’s led under cover of a magically produced storm to an opulent compound to join hundreds of girls, each vying to be chosen as the next Queen of Nyth.

  Echo, though, has no desire to be Queen of anything, especially anything to do with Nyth. The Prince’s father is notorious for his mistreatment of magicians, enslaving them with vicious spell-songs, and causing the general population to fear and hate those who can sing spells to drive a man mad and recite lullabies that call down the elements. Echo can do both—and more.

  As she plays the charade of falling in love with the Prince, she realizes three terrifying truths: He is hungry for her magic, he has a secret plot to dethrone his father, and he is not wholly unlikeable.

  The Prince promises her the freedom to reinvent magicians as trusted healers and song-weavers—a public opinion Echo needs solidly in place to ensure her survival. In return she must marry him, journey to Nyth, and use her power to unseat the High King. Faced with the strongest dark magician in centuries, Echo must know when to let her voice fly and when to hold her tongue, or she’ll find herself caught in the lasting notes of a song
that can’t be unsung.

  ECHOES OF SILENCE is a young adult fantasy in the vein of The Bachelor meets Wither, complete at 100,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Rae Carson’s THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS as well as Kristen Cashore’s GRACELING.

  I am both traditionally and self-published in YA science fiction and contemporary under my legal name, Elana Johnson, but I am currently looking for representation in the YA fantasy genre, and to debut under the pen name Laney Watkins. The complete manuscript of ECHOES OF SILENCE is available upon request.

  Thank you for your time and consideration.


  Elana Johnson

  writing as Laney Watkins

  My query for a novel that landed me my second agent (and two offers of representation after I parted ways with my first agent). Notice the bio and list of publishing credentials, as well as the new introduction/opening.

  Dear Ms. Lee,

  I recently and amicably split ways with my previous agent, Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary. Because of your awesomeness during WriteOnCon (which I co-founded in 2010 and continue to co-organize), you’re at the top of my query list. Not to mention that, according to your website, you like “time-travel and the intricacies of the space-time continuum.”Because of that, I believe you’d be interested in my young adult science fiction thriller, RIFT.

  Seventeen-year-old Saige Phillips can’t help holding on to the hope that she’ll find Cherry, her twin who went missing five years ago. After all, Saige sees echoes of Cherry sitting in the window and skipping down the stairs. Though there’s never been any sound associated with Saige’s “hallucinations,” she’s freaked out by the breathing she hears in her bedroom.

  The breathing is definitely real, and it’s definitely not coming from Saige. It’s echoing through a time rift that originates in Saige’s bedroom. Then a grayed-out guy shows up, saying his name is Price and he’s from the future. He has the same blue film clinging to him that Saige has seen on Cherry, and she seizes onto the idea that her twin went through the rift.

  As Saige searches for answers in her time, she’s met with secret after secret, all coming back to one source: her physicist mother.

  Price lives in the year 2073 with his Time Keeper father and a whole slew of global initiatives that regulate time travel. He knows time shouldn’t be played with. What he doesn’t know is why the rift opened now, or how he can stop it.

  The deeper Price digs, the harder the truth is to swallow. His father willfully violating the global time travel initiative is one thing. Stealing the rift site from Saige’s mother is quite another. And kidnapping—or worse—to cover everything up takes things too far.

  When the rift begins to show signs of overuse and instability, Price is desperate to close it before it explodes. Saige will do anything to keep it open long enough to find Cherry. In this dangerous game with time, someone’s bound to lose.

  RIFT is a young adult science fiction thriller, complete at 93,000 words. It will appeal to fans of The Bourne Identity films, as well as young adult novels infused with real science, such as ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis and 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil.

  I recently and amicably parted ways with my previous agent, Michelle Andelman of Regal Literary. My publications include POSSESSION (Simon Pulse, 2011), SURRENDER (Simon Pulse, 2012), REGRET (short story, Simon Pulse, 2012), and ABANDON (Simon Pulse, 2013). I also self-published a short story in the Possession series, RESIST (2011). I am a founding author of the QueryTracker blog, the League of Extraordinary Writers, and WriteOnCon. Through my various social media outlets, including my successful and popular blog, I can reach over 15,000 fans with just a few status updates.

  The full manuscript of RIFT is attached to this submission form. Thank you for your time and consideration.


  Elana Johnson

  My cover copy for my first self-published novel, ELEVATED. Notice that it's contemporary, and much shorter than my speculative fiction queries (cover copy).

  The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.

  Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.

  But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.

  So that’s it. I do critique and write query letters for clients. You can see my prices on my blog.

  I also present the information contained in this e-book at writing conferences. If you would like me to present at a writing conference near you, email the coordinators with my information and request that I present, or contact me directly if you are a conference coordinator and would like me to present at your writing conference.

  Now get back to work on perfecting your query. Or researching agents. Or formatting your submissions. Or better yet, preparing for that agent to call!

  Good luck!

  I’m always available to answer questions. Email me!

  Elana Johnson

  Elana Johnson is a young adult author. Her work includes the young adult dystopian romance series Possession, Surrender, Abandon, and Regret, published by Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster). A young adult dystopian short story in the Possession world, Resist, is also available for free download.

  She is also the author of ELEVATED and SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE, both standalone young adult contemporary romance novels-in-verse.

  Her novella, ELEMENTAL RUSH (which is available for free!), began a new futuristic fantasy series. ELEMENTAL HUNGER, a full-length novel, is the second part of the story. The series concludes with ELEMENTAL RELEASE, the final novella, which is also free.

  School teacher by day, Query Ninja by night, you can find her online at her personal blog ( or Twitter (@ElanaJ). She also co-founded the Query Tracker blog and WriteOnCon, and contributes to the League of Extraordinary Writers, a blog written by young adult science fiction and fantasy authors.

  Find her on Facebook, twitter, tumblr, Wattpad, or her blog.

  If you liked this book, please take a few minutes to leave a review for it. Authors (Elana included!) really appreciate this, and it helps draw more readers to books they might like. Thanks!





  Resist (free)


  Elemental Rush (free)

  Elemental Hunger

  Elemental Release (free)


  Something About Love


  Copyright © 2014 by Elana Johnson

  Published by AEJ Creative Works

  All Rights Reserved.

  No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the author. The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review. No liability is assumed with respect to the use of the information contained within. Although every precaution has been taken, the author assumes no liability for errors or omissions. Neither is any liability assumed for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

  Cover Design by AEJ Creative Works

  Interior Design by AEJ Creative Works

  Cover photograph © Belinka:

  Find Elana on the web!

  Table of Contents

  About This Bo

  Watch for This!

  Cover Copy Vs. Query Letter

  What Queries Are

  What Queries Aren't

  Why You Need a Query

  Section Two: Writing a Killer Query

  The Hook

  The Setup

  The Conflict

  The Consequence

  Everything Else

  Section Three: Entering the Query Trenches

  Researching Agents

  Sending Your Query

  Responding to Requests (or Rejections)

  Enduring the Wait

  Revising for an Agent

  Fielding "The Call"

  Section Four: Query Letter Samples

  The End

  About Elana