Pub Rants

Tale of Two Queries

 18 Comments |  Share This:    

STATUS: It’s still early. A fire could erupt at any time but I’m hoping to get some reading in this morning. Unusual for during the day but I’m waiting for some contracts to arrive so I can’t work on them yet.

What song is playing on the iPod right now? JUST YOU WAIT by Kiri Te Kanawa from the My Fair Lady Soundtrack

My brand-spanking new author, Sherry Thomas is giving a query tutorial (comparing two of her letters) over at her new blogspot and if you are an author currently navigating the query waters, I strongly recommend you give that a look.


Because Sherry’s query to me just outright rocked.

It was so good that when the sample pages arrived, Sara and I read them right away. The next day we asked for the full. When the full arrived, Sara read it that night and popped in on Friday morning and said, “drop everything. You need to read this RIGHT now.”

So I did. I stayed home on a Friday night to start reading SCHEMES OF LOVE. Got up early on Saturday to finish and then called Sherry, on a Saturday, to offer representation.

After a little tweaking that Sherry wrapped up in under two weeks, I submitted SCHEMES on a Monday. By that Thursday, I had an initial offer. By that following Tuesday, two publishing houses spontaneously submitted pre-empts.

We ended up accepting a pre-empt offer from Bantam on that Wednesday.

Sold–a week and two days from first submit to publisher.

25 days (literally) from receiving the initial query, to reading the sample pages, to requesting and reading the full, to selling the novel to Bantam.

And it all started with a really good query letter.

You might as well learn from a master so take advantage of what Sherry is offering.

18 Responses

  1. Maprilynne said:

    I want to read this book so badly. I have to admit, the excerpt from her book on her website put me in a funk for three days. I couldn’t write because I felt like everything I wrote looked like total crap compared to hers. (You know, the “I suck!” mode.) But nonetheless, I really want to read this book and two years is a heck of a long time to be waiting with baited breath! Best of luck Sherry!!!

  2. Beth said:


    I’m curious–how did you find the link to that excerpt? I clicked on every link I could find on her website and none of them took me there. Yet it’s clearly on her site. I just can’t find any way to link to it from there.

  3. Termagant 2 said:

    Man! I could’ve written this query letter — except that my story is different and I don’t have the funny, handsome & smart Chris Keeslar panting for it…

    What’s to do?


  4. Ryan Field said:

    This is interesting. I truly liked both query letters on her blog. But so different from what Noah Lukeman preaches, along with so many other New York agents:
    One two or three sentence intro paragraph (genre, word count, etc…), a three (maybe, but only if necessary, four)sentence plot description and a final paragraph listing publishing credits. And, according to Mr. Lukeman, never mention character names; it’s not necessary for a first time query. Though I personally have always preferred a more detailed plot description, like the examples on the blog, I’ve personally had much better response with Lukeman’s short and sweet methods…with both editors and agents. I can’t help but wonder, especially with the lengthy query #2, if an agent at Sterling Lord or Writer’s House would take this seriously.

  5. Anonymous said:

    A solid query helps open the door, no doubt. But a mention of a full manuscript request by a publisher helps even more. I’d be interested to know the stats on agent requests before Dorchester became interested.

  6. Elektra said:

    I also wondered that, to tell the truth. Whenever agents put a “this is what catches my eye” example on their website, it always seems to end in the querier saying that she’s already got two novels on the NYT list and an editor eating out of her hand. I wish they’d post something from someone who had no publishing creditials whatsoever.

  7. Maprilynne said:

    I am assuming you are starting from Kristin’s Blog. Go down to “Authors who blog” and click on Sherry Thomas. This will take you to her blog, not her website. Go to “View complete profile” and in her profile click on “My Website.” Which takes you to Once there, go to “My Novels” and a little menu pops out. Click on “Historical Romance” and that will take you to a description of Schemes of Love. There is a brightly coloured banner you can click on to take you to the excerpt.:)


  8. Sherry Thomas said:

    I do apologize for how difficult it is to access the excerpt. Not in the least my intention. I will try to make it accessible from my homepage very soon.


  9. Catja (green_knight) said:

    Maybe I am dense – but what, exactly, is it about this query that has everybody drooling over it? It read, to me, like a hundred queries I’ve read elsewhere. Man and woman, trials and tribulations, get together in the end. (Ok, you can tell I’m not a romance reader).

    I can see the attraction of Heart of Blade – it might not be as polished, but I sure as hell would want to read the book – unique characters, interesting setting, yum. This one left me cold. Again, I can see the attraction of the periphery – contest wins, editor likes it – yep, I’d take a look. But what is it about the middle part of the query that perks people’s interest so much?

    Once the partial was on the table, I am more than happy to believe that it swam on its own merits – and given the speed with which it sold, it must be quite impressive!

    But… how did it get there?

  10. Anonymous said:

    Reading this entry on November 9, 2007, I just want to point out that it’s annoying when you link to someone’s blog, instead of the particular entry you’re mentioning. It’s a pain for me to go and track the one entry down, over a year later.