Friday, January 23, 2009

A Query Letter by Angie Fox

By now you should all know that because of a number of requests you are reading the short series I’m doing on query letters that helped my clients get my attention and eventually representation. Next in line is Angie Fox. One of my newer clients and a great success story. Angie submitted this via e-mail in August 2007, and simply because of the great title in the subject line, The Accidental Demon Slayer, I immediately opened the e-mail and requested more material. Coincidentally, at about the same time an editor from Dorchester was making Angie an offer (a request from a contest Angie had entered). Needless to say things moved very quickly, and after some tough decisions Angie and I formed an official partnership.

Angie e-mailed me the full manuscript and I read it quickly and offered representation. Well, we were more than delighted when Angie’s debut novel, The Accidental Demon Slayer, was published this year and spent two weeks on The New York Times extended list. And we are equally excited for the upcoming The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers. So here’s the letter that launched Angie’s career.

Dear Ms. Faust,

Straight-laced preschool teacher, Lizzie Brown, never lies, never cusses, and doesn’t really care much for surprises. When her long lost Grandma Gertie shows up on her doorstep riding a neon pink Harley Davidson wearing a “kiss my asphalt” t-shirt and hauling a carpet bag full of Smuckers jars filled with road kill magic, Lizzie doesn’t think her life could get any stranger. That is, until her hyper-active terrier starts talking and an ancient demon decides to kill her from his perch on the back of her toilet.

Lizzie learns she’s a demon slayer, fated to square off with the devil’s top minion in, oh about two weeks. Sadly, she’s untrained, unfit and under attack. Grandma’s gang of fifty-something biker witches promises to whip Lizzie into shape, as long as she joins them out on the road. But Lizzie wants nothing to do with all this craziness. She simply wants her normal life back. When she accidentally botches the spell meant to protect her, she only has one choice – trust the utterly delicious but secretive man who claims to be her protector.

Dimitri Kallinikos has had enough. Cursed by a demon centuries ago, his formerly prominent clan has dwindled down to himself and his younger twin sisters, both of whom are now in the coma that precedes certain death. To break the curse, he must kill the demon behind it. Dimitri needs a slayer. At long last, he’s found Lizzie. But how do you talk a girl you’ve never met into going straight to Hell? Lie (and hope she forgives you). Dimitri decides to pass himself off as Lizzie’s fated protector in order to gain her trust and guide her towards this crucial mission. But will his choice to deceive her cost them their lives, or simply their hearts?

The Accidental Demon Slayer is an 85,000 word humorous paranormal. I’m a member of RWA and the partial manuscript placed first in the Windy City RWA’s Four Seasons contest. The judge for that contest, Leah Hultenschmidt of Dorchester Publishing, has just requested the full. As an advertising writer, I’ve won multiple awards for my work in radio dialogue.

I would be happy to send you the complete manuscript. Thank you for your consideration and time.


Angie Fox Gwinner
(email address)

I think this is probably one of the more perfect query letters I’ve seen. Yes, the pitch paragraphs could probably be shortened to two at the most, but it works as is, possibly because Angie’s voice shines through in each paragraph. You might also notice that Angie used a different technique than most writers. She launched right into her pitch and kept the title, genre, and word count to the end. This worked for her. Instantly readers knew that this was humorous and got a great sense of her voice.

You might notice that Angie only included her email address. This is fine, but I would suggest also including your phone number. You just never know when an agent would prefer to call and you always want to make it as easy on those agents as possible.

I think by reading this letter and knowing what the subject line said you can see why I immediately jumped in and read this with enthusiasm, and why readers have fallen in love with Angie’s books as well.