Over on Twitter just now, I’ve been discussing queries with and it occurred to me that it might be helpful if I shared my own query. For clarity/continuity/etc., I should point out that back before The Replacement was . . . well, The Replacement, I was calling it FE. Which I felt was an excellent title. Later, I was forced to admit that if you always have to explain the joke, it’s probably not a very good one.*
Without further ado, here is my query:
Dear Wonderful Agent
Mackie Doyle is the dirty secret that no one in his family talks about. All he wants is to pass for normal—and maybe get a date—but he’s running out of convincing explanations for why his eyes turn black in dim light and why the smell of stainless steel makes him sick. To top it off, his allergy to iron is getting worse and despite his sister’s best attempts to come up with a miracle cure, the prognosis isn’t good.
When he encounters a tribe of grisly-looking faeries living under the local slag heap, he doesn’t want anything to do with them. However, when they offer a concoction that will restore his health on the condition that he put in a few hours a week as their courier, it seems like a small price to pay. The job isn’t quite as easy as it looks, though, and soon Mackie finds himself caught between a pair of powerful rivals. Now there are two clans vying for his loyalty, two sides to every story, and with the lives of his friends and family at stake, no way to stay out of the skirmish. Either alliance means honoring an age-old sacrifice, and the simplest solution is to pay out some blood. The problem is, he didn’t think to ask how much.**
A contemporary YA fantasy, complete at 70,000 words, Fe will appeal to fans of Holly Black and M.T. Anderson.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Update: I feel like I should expand on this and add tips and tricks and all that, but Maggie does an excellent job of breaking down the query letter here on her blog and I would just wind up saying the same things she does, only not as well, so instead, I’ll suggest that you visit her handy list.
*Sometimes, I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am. There. I said it.
**You might notice that this part sounds a little different from how it all goes down in the actual book. Due to a mysterious process known as editing, the various words used in The Replacement are often different words than the ones included in the manuscript version, FE.
‘Fe’ as in iron as in faerie weakness? I liked the letter: snappy and badass. Thanks for sharing!
Yes! Also, “Fe” as in “fey” as in “fae” as in faeries. Because there’s nothing like a title that no one quite understands or knows how to pronounce.
It usually takes me a few tries to keep things simple.
That’s good query. Even if I haven’t already read The Replacement (and OMG LOVED it) I’d want to read it.
Back in the day, I worked kind of frantically (and constantly) on this query, so I’m glad you liked it :) And yay for liking The Replacement!
Yeah, that’s why I quit trying to tell jokes. [that and a sister that had absolutely no sense of humor and tended to squash it out]
Thanks for posting this. As much as I think that Maggie is great, she’s, well, she’s uber-Maggie, and I’m not ;) so is nice to see other successful query letters. [that doesn’t involve snot. ;) sorry, Maggie can get away with that, not sure I could. ;)]
Except now this has made me want to read your book! And I mustn’t succumb till after JRW Conf. in October. …mustn’t…mustn’t…. have a lot of books to read for conf…..
but I can put in down on list for afterwards. ;)
Thanks again for posting.
Honestly, I’m not sure that many people can get away with snot, but Maggie has special skills :) For the rest of us, we just keep it neat, clean, and by the numbers.
And I’m glad my query hooked you! Although, bear in mind that while many things about this letter do still apply, what you see here does not entirely match the existing book, so . . . I guess I’m saying, set your expectations broadly ;)
Very true. I think that’s true of a lot of things, that Only Maggie can get away with? She does indeed have special skills — not the least of which is her ability to imbibe sweet tea and cookie dough the way she does. Special skills indeed. ;)
Got it – don’t hold your book, when I get chance to read, literally up with this query letter. ;)
That in itself is good to know also. Espec. for those out there that haven’t researched the amount of edits often expected.
But you are still happy with the finished product and all?
I am absolutely happy with the finished product! I think the wonderful thing about editors is this ability to look at what’s there, and then just kind of amplify it to best effect. Sometimes that means changing things around, but it’s definitely all for the good.
Once I thought about the title, FE, I got it on both fronts — both ferrous and fey. I feel like I’ve accomplished something mentally so I now deserve a nap. (It’s really the cuddly cat in my lap that’s making want to take a nap but I’ll use any excuse.)
You absolutely deserve a nap! I know this, because I deserve a nap for lots of things. Like picking up my socks. And doing the dishes.
We seem to have quite the same philosophy about naps. :)
I like you both so much! ;) ;)
Thanks for sharing! I’m having the hardest time writing my query (even though I’m not even close to submitting yet) so it’s nice to see this.
P.S. Do you have to have a part where you talk about the agent and the work she’s represented? Or is that optional? Also, do you have to talk about yourself a little bit or not?
I did usually include a line at the beginning about what a particular agent represented, but only if I thought that it applied. The agent I wound up signing with had just opened for business that year, so this version is the one I sent to her, because nothing she’d sold had been released yet.
I also included a paragraph at the end with education and publishing credits, but I left that off here because it’s really not necessary and I think people tend to get nervous if they don’t have anything to talk about and they see that other people do. Basically, if you have relevant info, you can feature it, but if you don’t, it’s better to not mention it at all, rather than adding credits that don’t matter.
Thanks for adding this. [Thanks to maggie_writers for asking]
Since this is always in the ‘query to do templates.’
So I know this has nothing to do with the Query Letter, but I was just wondering if the was a sequel, or if you were planing on writing one?
I’m not currently planning a sequel, although the world is so big and strange that if I someday decided to come back to it, I know there would be plenty there to write about! So, never say never :)
You should make The Replacement a movie, although(i really dont want to sound rude or mean or anything during this next part) but try not to make it like twilight and out of sequence. I would LOVE and DIE to see The Replacement as a move! thanks! -JM
Even though I have *absolutely* no control over whether or not The Replacement gets made into a movie, it’s still something I keep my fingers crossed for! I’d love to see what my strange underground people would look like on the big screen :D
Oh sorry I had a blonde moment there….:[ I really should of thought about that. Anyways I would love to see it as a movie, I’m crossing my fingers too! ;)
hi my names maddy and im 12. i read the replacment in two days because i loved it so much. my english teacher yelled at me because i was reading and not writing. anyway i love to read and when i saw my two fav aurthors (maggie stiefvater and lauren kate) on the cover i knew it would be awosome. i LOVED it. i was easily able to imagen the characters as my friends and myself. i love the way you really made Mackie feel real and evry time you introduced a new character you described them so well, so i have to thank you alot for this and im with Anonymous I WANT A MOVIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hi Maddy, I’m so glad to hear that you liked The Replacement! (Although I’m sorry to hear you got yelled at—I used to get in trouble all the time in school for reading books under my desk instead of working …) And even though I don’t have a thing to do with whether or not it would actually happen, I think a movie would be so much fun based on the costumes alone! (Mostly, I want to see the Morrigan with all her crazy teeth!)
Thank you for replying and to make you laugh a little my mum was watching me whe i was on my laptop and she was like completely suprise that i posted about your book and everything. anyway is there any books of yours that i might really enjoy?
The Replacement is actually the first book I’ve ever had published, but my second one just came out in the US! It’s called The Space Between here, and will be published as Smoulder in the UK and Australia. It’s a demon love story and has more kissing than The Replacement, but it’s still kind of strange and scary and weird!