Thursday, February 3, 2011

LIM Query Sample

Here is the fiction query sample I used at "Love Is Murder," with comments, which I handed out. In case there were not enough handouts, here it is:

Your Name
123 Your Street
Yourtown, IL 61000


Address line
Address line

Dear AGENT/EDITOR NAME HERE:[be specific – not ‘to whom it may concern’; get gender right]

After I saw your listing in X and noted your interest in mysteries with a supernatural slant, I thought you might take interest in my 75,000 word contemporary mystery, BLEEDER.[open with some point of contact – a listing you saw, a conference "Thank you for speaking with me briefly at 'Love Is Murder' last week' – to show you are a pro. ID your book by genre and give a word count]

When classics professor Reed Stubblefield is disabled in a school shooting, he retreats to a rural Illinois cabin to write a book on Aristotle in peace. Oddly, in the chill of March, the campgrounds and motels of River Falls are filled with the ill and infirm -- all seeking the healing touch of the town’s new parish priest, reputed to be a stigmatic. Skeptical about religion since his wife’s death from leukemia, Reed is nevertheless drawn into a friendship with the cleric, Rev. Ray Boudreau, an amiable Aquinas scholar who collapses and dies on Good Friday in front of horrified parishioners. A miracle? Or bloody murder? Once Reed becomes the prime 'person of interest' in the mysterious death, he applies Aristotle’s logic to find the truth before he is arrested or killed -- because not everyone in town wants this mystery solved.[your hook – like jacket copy, 75-100 words or so, 5 sentences or so. Keep it enticing; no need to tell the whole story]

Readers of Andrew Greeley, Ralph MacInerny or Graham Greene mysteries will appreciate BLEEDER.[try to position your book – what else out there is like it?]

My first novel, The Throne of Tara (Crossway 1990), retold the story of Columba of Iona, the hot-headed 6th Century Irish monk who went to war over a book. My medieval thriller Relics (Thomas Nelson 1993) was a Doubleday Book Club selection. My short stories have appeared in periodicals such as The Critic, The Karitos Review, The Rockford Review, Dappled Things and Apocalypse. [offer pub credits if you have them; if not, don’t say so. Don’t apologize]

A former producer with Wisconsin Public Radio, I teach journalism and English at Kishwaukee College in northern Illinois.[something personal can help, especially related to platform, publicity or any expertise you have about the book's subject. For example, if your book is a legal thriller and you're a lawyer, say so; if it is a police procedural and you're in law enforcement, say so.]

Thank you for your time and kind consideration. May I send you the first fifty pages as per your guidelines or the completed manuscript for an exclusive review? [show you are courteous and you did your homework about their guidelines. Ask the yes/no question]

This is a multiple query. Looking forward to your reply,[you must let them know that it is a multiple query]

Sincerely, [keep the whole thing business-like, all the way through. No boasting 'I'm the next John Grisham' or whining 'You're my last hope since I've been rejected 500 times']

John J. Desjarlais

enc: SASE [e-queries obviously don’t need this, but all mailed ones do]

[As you can see, the query is a one-page business pitch. No colored paper, no perfume, no chocolates (yes, I hear it has happened). Agents and editors are business people, so be sure to present yourself as a professional]

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