Wednesday, October 20, 2010

WINNING QUERY #5 - Deadworld

AKA:  The Query That Wasn't - And Got a Contract Anyway

J.N. Duncan’s debut Deadworld will be released by Kensington Publishing, April 2011. You can find Jim and follow his publishing journey on, or on twitter.

Jim’s story is a study in perseverance. (This is where you take a quick look at the quote underneath the blog title before going any further). Jim claims he can’t write queries for… er… fecal matter – which is why his journey has been a little different.

You can read the entire story in detail on Nathan Bransford’s blog, but I’ll hit the high points:

- After finishing his first draft and researching agents, Jim worked up several drafts of his query, choosing the one he thought best and sent it out – only to be consistently advised the multiple POV switches were jarring.

- Undaunted, Jim REWROTE Deadworld in third person (NB: *Applause!*).

- Another batch of queries, another pick, more rejections.

- And again.

- Still no luck.

But wait. The good news is, Kensington Publishing also received Jim’s submission. And they decided they liked it. Enough to offer a THREE BOOK CONTRACT.

Needless to say, the agents he’d submitted to were quite happy to be hearing from Jim again. Although there was more than one interested party, Jim had formed a good rapport with Nathan Bransford online (through blog comments, that sort of thing). The rest is history.

Because Jim is quite…um…modest regarding his query-writing skills, he suggested I only include the blurb he used when sending the manuscript to Kensington.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I give you The Query That Wasn’t – And Got a Contract Anyway:

Jackie Rutledge is a Chicago FBI agent who walks that fine line between competence and nervous breakdown. When a killer begins bleeding people dry, Jackie’s psychic partner Laurel, tells her to get off the case. The spirit world is involved and they aren’t playing nice. Worse, the prime suspect, one PI Nick Anderson, seems to exude death worse than the local cemetery. Jackie is not a “leave well enough alone” sort of woman however. She hasn’t let a bad guy get away since she was twelve, and this one will be no different. Unless of course, he’s not the killer.

Despite the evidence, Jackie does not get the “killer” vibe from Nick. He’s not at all what he appears. His past goes back far beyond the humanly possible. In fact, nothing about the case makes sense, and the more they dig, the more it seems Laurel was right. They’re dealing with a killer who effortlessly walks between the living and the dead, and she will need Nick’s help to take that step, because facing the dead is where Jackie’s competence ends and the breakdown begins.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to read it!

We here at Seeking the Write Life (i.e. Me) look forward to all kinds of launch festivities next year!

Tune in tomorrow for the big wind up: HarperCollins (international!) author Helen Lowe, along with her agent Robin Rue of Writer’s House offer the four foundations for writing a winning query!

See you in the comments!


  1. Congrats Jim I think it sounds like a fascinating read! I like how you got your agent, through building a rapport. I think engaging ourselves with other writers and commenting on agent blogs is invaluable. Great story!

  2. Me too! In fact, I'm finding these kinds of stories more and more often, so clearly there's some value in building those networks.