Sep 9, 2009

Successful Query!

This is a follow up to the post earlier today about the writer who got "the call."

From Natalie Bahm:

Someone asked if I could post the query that worked so here it is. I actually had two fairly different queries that received requests but this was the one I sent to the agent that offered representation.

Dear Agent:

When eleven-year-old Ally discovers the neighborhood boys are digging a tunnel to an abandoned steel mill she is faced with a dilemma. Should she join them and help dig to the mysterious and seriously off-limits steel mill while spending time with the sixth grade heartthrob Paul, or should she tell her parents, end the boys’ fun, but save them from the accident that’s bound to happen?

Ally decides to join the boys in hopes her involvement can push them to make the tunnel safer. She initiates the building of supports and then helps dig for months (with many adventures on the way) before she and the boys finally break through to the steel mill.

But when two notorious bank robbers known as the Gauze Men find the tunnel and discover where it leads, they decide to use it to get to the perfect hideout- miles of industrial buildings surrounded by a fifteen foot fence, that no one has been inside for twenty years… no one but all the neighborhood boys and Ally. When Ally and Paul get trapped inside the mill with the Gauze Men, they must escape and get help.

Underground is my first novel. It is written for a middle grade audience and is complete at about 33,000 words.

I’d be happy to send you sample pages or the complete manuscript if you are interested. Thank you for your time.


Natalie Bahm

It's not the best query ever but I think it did a fairly decent job of describing the story in a way that might make agents interested to read it.

With this query I received 3 requests for full manuscripts out of about 15 query submissions. I actually felt the second query I wrote was much stronger than this one, but it had a smaller request request rate (about 1 in 10, instead of 1 in 5).

Some of the best advice I read about query writing came from this blog:

Hopefully something in here will be useful. Don't feel like you need to post the whole muddle. (Or any of it for that matter :) Thanks again.

NOTE: I posted the whole muddle ;-)


Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Super. Thanks Natalie and Rick for putting that up. On her blog, she tells where the inspiration came from for that story. Also, cool to read.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks Natalie.

There's been lots of controversy in here over what is too long, to descriptive.

This was an interesting query. It kept my interest all the way through to the end. I've read others just as long, but had to force myself past the second paragraph. This just goes to show that its pretty much subjective to a specific agent.

And, of course, to the writer, who can make a longer query "interesting".

Thanks for sharing this. Good luck with your next query cycle!


TereLiz said...

Thanks, Natalie, for sharing your experience. Sounds like a fun MG chapter book! Best wishes for the submission process.

Jennie said...

Congratulations, first of all. We're very happy for you. Good luck for the future!

Thanks for sharing your letter and links with us.

Sam said...

Congratulations!! That's really, really great. And thanks for the great links.