Sunday, October 17, 2010

WINNING QUERY #4 - Whispertown

Author extraordinaire, L.R. Giles (the 'L' stands for Lamar) used this query to garner interest from several agents (!!!) eventually deciding on Jamie Weiss Chilton from Andrea Brown Literary. (Just in case you're wondering, Publisher's Marketplace puts ABL currently in the number one position for YA dealmakers).

WHISPERTOWN is being peddled right now - no doubt we'll hear about a deal very soon, so keep up to date with his journey on or follow Lamar on twitter.

Lamar says a good query takes time:

"...It took me 3 weeks and 20 drafts to get to what you see below, and even after that I found myself tweaking a word here or there while I researched the right agents to query. I took another month to research agents and compile a proper list before I clicked send. It wasn’t good enough for me to get just any agent. I wanted an agent with editorial experience because I like feedback..."

He chose Jamie at ABL not just because they're top notch, but also because "...Jamie has incredible editorial experience and a proven track record as an agent, and our personalities clicked. Signing with her felt more like making a new friend than a business contact. All the pieces just fell into place."

After a month of edits, the manuscript is on the road. Best of luck Lamar! Let us know when you've nabbed that publisher so we can celebrate with you!

Now for the QUERY:

Dear ,

Nick Pearson is pretending to be someone he isn’t. Not high school pretending. Witness Protection pretending. And the #1 rule is “stay low-key”. But, when his sole friend Eli dies in the school’s journalism room under mysterious circumstances, and Nick stumbles upon the conspiracy Eli planned on exposing, staying low-key takes a backseat to staying alive.

Newspaper Nerd Eli had a secret, an in-the-works story codenamed “Whispertown”. And it’s got a lot of folks interested. Like corrupt cops, the town’s shady mayor, and certain high-ranking government officials. Teaming with Eli’s estranged (and gorgeous) sister, Nick sets out to unravel the mystery and still maintain his cover. He’ll have to use all the deviant skills he’s gained from his racketeering dad, assassin godfather, and their Serbian gangster boss to find the truth. However, each clue brings him closer to answers he may not want. Whispertown is bigger than he could have ever imagined, and in its shadow stands a killer…a killer Nick fears may be his own father.

I’m seeking representation for my 70,000 word YA novel Whispertown, a book about high school, heartbreak, and hit men. My fantasy novel The Darkness Kept was a Top 10 finalist in the 2009 Tor UK and SciFi Now “War of the Words” competition. I am a recipient of the 2006-2007 Virginia Commission for the Arts Fiction Fellowship (a $5000 cash award). And, I’m a three-time contributor to the Dark Dreams anthology series edited by author Brandon Massey for Kensington Publishing (Dark Dreams, 2004; Voices from the Other Side, 2006; Whispers in the Night, 2007). I have a lot of stories to tell and I just need the chance to put them where they belong…in front of readers.

Per your submission guidelines, I’ve included the first five pages of WHISPERTOWN for your review. Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope you find that we are a good match for each other.


So there it is!

READER QUESTION: Are you patient, willing to draft and re-draft your queries? Or do you want to move things ahead a little faster, trusting the story to speak for itself?


  1. I think it's CRUCIAL to redraft queries, at least several times. It's good to get feedback on them from other writers, and it's good to go back and rewrite if, after a handful or so of rejections come in (if that's the case). It's really not the time to hope and pray that the story will speak for itself. If the story's a winner, then it should have a winning query to show it off!

    Having said that, it's a big mistake to polish a query over and over when your MS might be the problem, and might need some more fine-tuning.

  2. Me too, Kathryn! And, praise God for other writers willing to give the time, I say! :)