query letters? query letters. query letters!

So if I want to pursue an agent, I need to write a query letter. It’s actually been on my radar for awhile, but I’ve not attempted to put words on the page. This past week I’ve gotten a little more serious about it. I read through the links I’ve collected over the past year and even attempted a synopsis of the story. I’m trying not to let it scare me.

Just for eventual shock and awe value (after I revise this a million times), here is the very first, very rough draft of the synopsis. In fact, it’s so rough I don’t think it even counts.

Em Stillson is a fifteen year old girl whose dad uprooted her from her lifelong hometown. After her mom died, Em tried to freeze life, building a wall around her heart to keep her emotions in and her memories out. But when her dad moves her to a new town and demands she returns to the soccer field, Em begins hearing her mom’s voice (something the therapist her dad forced her to see warned her about). As much as she tries to ignore new friendships and the competitive spirit that makes her an all-star athlete, Em finds it impossible to keep life from moving on. 

I’m reminded of the letter my husband (Andy) and I wrote to potential birthmothers. You get one shot to write the most accurate, genuine, and specific SHORT description of your life. A query letter is the same for a novel. It’s as much about what I put in as what I leave out. The way I craft the words will speak as loudly as their meanings.

So just like the letter to potential birthmothers, I’m spending  a lot of time thinking and imagining and jotting down phrases (and praying) for the right words to make the best query possible. I’m at the point where I just need to write it. Today. Now.

Once the words are on the page maybe it won’t feel so daunting.

Here are some links I’ve been reading:
The Query: Natalie Whipple
How to Write a Query Letter: Nathan Bransford
How to Write a Query: Agent Query

Let's Be Email Pals!

Teaching writers doesn't have to drown us.

Enter your information to receive my free eBook, plus weekly tips and encouragement for teaching writers.

Don't worry, I won't send you spam, and you can unsubscribe any time. (I'd hate to see you go, though.) Powered by ConvertKit


  1. Ruth, you need to heed your own advice! “Write. It's good for you!” Spill all those words on to the page. Then (following more of your advice) “discover” the right words, “play” with the words to create meaningful phrases, and eventually you will “build” the query letter with a synopsis that feels good in your heart and soul. I think YOU are your most critical judge. Stop it!! Just enjoy the journey of writing and the thought of publishing! Capture that excitement! Feel it through your bones! Now write it. Today. (More good advice from you!)

  2. Oh, btw, your story. (Forgot to mention anything about that all important novel you wrote!) I think it sounds amazing and powerful. Girls need literature to show them the importance of being in the moment and it is okay to hold onto those memories, but it's also important to move forward. Us girls are sometimes just too emotional, huh? We don't give ourselves permission to put ourselves first. Love that Em is also an athlete — another girl power! Get that letter written so we can move on with this process — I want that book in my hands to read! 🙂