Thursday, December 30, 2010

Tips on how to write a query letter

When I was shopping for agents and publishers for my book, I struggled with the query letter.  Unfortunately, it's a tedious task, but a necessary one, nonetheless.  Agents and publishers see thousands of queries every week from writers, so it's important to make your query letter stand out and make the person reading it say, "I need to know more about this book!"  I'm no expert when it comes to writing a query letter, but I did a ton of research before developing my query letter for Coincidence. There is a substantial amount of information online (and probably from experts in the area) on query letters and how to write one, but I thought I would throw a few tips out for any aspiring writers who are looking to write one. And, here they are:

  • Make it grab the attention of the reader right from the start!  What's the hook?
  • Don't query unless you have a completed and polished manuscript.
  • Describe your book in a few sentences, but don't give a whole summary of the book in the letter--that's what the synopsis is for, which will usually be requested if an agent or publisher has read your letter and has found your book interesting.  
  • Keep the query letter to one page.  
  • Ask permission to send sample chapters of your book.  
  • Describe the length and genre of your book.  How many words is it? Is it romance? Horror? Mystery? Sometimes it can be difficult to fit your book into a genre, but it has to be done.  Some publishers and agents are only looking for particular genres and you certainly don't want to query a science fiction publisher about your romance novel--it will make you look like an amateur and uninformed and who wants that? 
  • Talk a little bit about yourself.  Do you  have any other published works? What is your background--anything relevant to writing that would be useful?  What gives you the credibility to write this book?
  • Make sure you are spelling the person's name correctly.  If you are sending a letter to Jane Doe, make sure Jane Doe spells her name Jane Doe and not an alternate way, like Jayne Doe.  I can't tell you how frustrating it is to have your name constantly misspelled and believe me I know!  My name is spelled Lesley, yet I'm all the time seeing it spelled Leslie, Lesli or Lesly...even after I correct them!  More than likely, if you misspell an agent's/publisher's name, your query is going straight in the trash. 
  • Last but not least, thank the person reading your letter for actually taking the time to read your letter.  It's easy to forget such a simple step. 
Below, I've included the query letter I sent out for Coincidence.  This letter eventually got me published by Wings ePress, Inc.  Coincidence was released in November 2010.


Ms. Jayne Doe
Name of Agency/Publisher
Street Address
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. Doe:

So, what’s the craic? Have no idea what that means? Neither did Samantha “Sam” Montgomery the first time she was asked that question. Little did she know on that hot, humid summer night, that it would be the question that would change her life forever.

I am seeking representation for my first novel—a completed 98,000 word contemporary romance novel.

Coincidence is a story about Sam Montgomery, a typical twenty-eight year old single woman who, stuck in a boring job and with a string of bad relationships under her belt, isn’t where she imagined she would be at this point in her life. Additionally, she has to cope with the sudden death of her beloved grandfather who passed away just weeks after beginning to investigate a letter belonging to his mother—a letter which only fuels questions about his mother’s mysterious past and why she suddenly fled her homeland of Ireland in the middle of the night nearly eighty years ago.

Sam, desperate for some much needed relaxation after the past several months of grieving her grandfather’s death and her unlucky in love past, heads away on her annual girl’s beach trip with her best friend, Kate Mason, only to discover what awaits her at the beach is far from relaxing. When she, a charming Irishman named Sean and an angry red-headed woman cross paths, Sam finds her sanity slowly spinning out of control as she stumbles, falls and laughs her way through a mission which takes her across the Atlantic Ocean in search of love and answers to her family’s puzzling past.

Now, a little about me. With a fiancĂ© who is from and lives in Ireland, I travel back and forth frequently, which allows me the opportunity to know the people, places and culture of what I write about first hand—Ireland is not just a place in the book, it becomes a character as well. I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing and a master’s degree in criminal justice. In July ’09, I wrote Wintergreen, a humorous travel piece profiling Derry, Ireland, which was published in the Charleston Sunday Gazette newspaper. Additionally, I am the Charleston Budget Travel Examiner for, an online local news guide, where I’ve written articles on how to travel on a budget both nationally and internationally.

I would love the chance to send you my partial or complete manuscript. Thank you for your time and consideration.


Your name
Your contact information

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A few paragraphs from the book

To pique your interest, here's an a look inside the book.  Order your copy today on Amazon and then come see me at my book signing on January 8th at The Book Shop in South Charleston from noon to 2pm.

I walked over to the bed and sat down and opened one of the nightstand's drawers. It was empty except for one photograph, folded in two, right down the middle. I opened it up and saw it was a photograph of Sean and Kevin, both smiling ear to ear and they looked so happy. What happened to this family? I wondered what exactly had caused the rift. Based on the O'Conners' argument this morning, it was evident that it was something bad. I just didn't know what.

I gathered that I was sitting on Patricia's side of the bed. Judging from what I heard Martin say this morning about Sean, I couldn't imagine him having this photo in the nightstand. I looked at it, gently running my finger down the photo over Sean's face. There it was--the face that had been in my every thought and dream since I had first laid eyes on it nearly three weeks ago.

I shoved the photo in my pocket and began making my way out of their private living space. Just as I walked out of their bedroom into their sitting room, I heard the front door open.

"Hurry up, Martin. I can't believe ye left yer hat. Ye never go anywhere without that stupid hat!" Patricia called from the front door. Martin's quick footsteps approached their room. I froze in fear and looked around for a place to hide.

As he got closer, I ducked into the bedroom just as he entered their sitting room.

"I'm jist gonna check on Samantha again to make sure she's alright," Patricia yelled.

Martin turned back towards the door. "Leave that poor gerl alone. Yer pesterin' her ti death, Pat! Let her git some rest! Come here and help me find me hat, please."

Grateful that their bedroom was on the first floor, I shoved open the bedroom window. Just as Martin finished yelling at Patricia, I fell to the ground below. "Ouch," I whispered as I landed on a bed of shrubbery. I just barely made it away before seeing the light switch on from their bedroom. The prickly shrubs scratched my exposed skin; however, I didn't dare move. I didn't want Martin to hear or see me lying outside of their bedroom window. There would be no good way to explain this. As the pain of my new scratches from the shrubs added to the pain of my bruises from my fall from the attic, I wondered how much worse this trip could get.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Please rate our wedding picture and video on!

Our wedding video, The Wedding Train, is posted on  If you would, please go and rate the video for us!  We created this silent film for our 1920's themed wedding to play before we were announced in the reception.  Barry did such a great job putting all the film together! It was a fun surprise for all of our guests.  Click here to go to the website. 

Also, please click here to go to the photograph section of where you can rate some of our wedding photographs as well.