Thursday, August 18, 2005

Thoughts on Querying from Michelle Grajkowski at 3 Seas Lit

Back in May, I had a really nice agent from 3 Seas Literary Agency, Michelle Grajkowski, come into TWL Author Talks to tell us all about agents from their perspective.

Tonight, I was reading the archives and came across something Michelle said about query letters that was really interesting:

The first thing that catches our eye is a professional query letter.One
that contains three major points: 1) The type of book you are querying and the
word count. 2) A brief hook: 2-3 line summary ofyour book. 3) Your bio

The query should grab us and make us want to read on - tell us why we should
read more. It's your sales pitch to us...

The synopsis should be concise, yet detailed. Tell us the beginning, middle,
end, and all the important plot points in between. Show usthe character growth.
But, try to contain it in 3-5 pages...

Fianlly, start your proposal off in the right spot - use action to throw us
right into the story. Keep us interested right to the end and tease us at the end
of chapter three so we want to read the rest.

I found that so interesting tonight.

As some of you know, I've been revising Over the Hill, my hen lit novel that has received four partial requests from agents, and later received three rejections from those agents. So, before I send the partial out again to this fourth agent, I figured I'd better go back in and see what it was that was missing or wasn't grabbing them, so to speak.

I finally figured it out what was missing. Two things actually. Since this book was about a cross country trip, surely there should be something in that first chapter about this. So, I worked on that first chapter so that there would be no question what the book was going to be about.

The second thing that was missing was "voice."

In reading Marianne Mancusi's book, "A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court," I see what this "voice" thing is all about. Sure, I thought my voice wasn't bad, but in reading this book, I also saw where I could improve. The difference was in what kind of emotion I was causing in the reader. I wanted them to laugh. Laugh their ass off. And not just in one place, but all through the book. This is why I can't put Marianne's book down. It's her "voice" that makes me want to keep reading it until it's done, while being a very entertaining book to read.

So, I'm still learning, still revising, but I'd like to think I'm making this book better so that maybe, just MAYBE, the fourth agent will like it, too. Who knows...but I liked what Michelle said about teasing the agent at the end of chapter three so that they will request the rest. She had a good point.


  1. Dorothy - I was really impressed with Michelle when she spoke to your group. I had already sent her a partial at that time but the thing she said that hit home with me was how she would be interested in a chick lit suspense - which is what I'm writing now. So, I'll definitely put her high on my list for next time. But I'm wondering how interested she is in hen lit. I'm finding that the older agents are the most enthusiastic about my hen lit submission.

  2. I never did send her anything and it dawned on me last night to check to see if she took email submissions and I see on her site that she doesn't. Did you send your query by email anyway? Oh...just read the rest of your you think she's rather not interested in hen lit then? Egads, this is getting crazy. Do you happen to know any agencies that have older agents? I've almost gone through them all. There's still Creative which I haven't sent the partial to yet because I'm waiting to get a new printer.

  3. Get thee partial out the door, my lady. :)

    And look for an email from me.

  4. Alrighty then, sweet maiden! Going to look right now!


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