At the end of July, after four months of querying a paranormal manuscript, I started querying a recently completed contemporary.
I received an offer of representation a week later... and six more in the two weeks that followed.
It was pretty much insane.
You can read the full story here-- but you'll find that although I chose Michelle in the end, I didn't actually send her a query! However, of the eight I did send, seven turned into full requests (plus one more from an agent who already had a partial of my first book), so I'm sharing the query here in hopes it will help someone. Huge thanks to the girls here at YA Highway, who helped me write it... and write it again... annnnnd again.
Seventeen-year-old Raychel Sanders is sleeping with two boys: Her best friend Matt… and his brother, Andrew.
Raychel sneaks into Matt’s bed on sleepless nights, but nothing ever happens. He doesn’t even seem to realize she’s a girl, except when he thinks she’s a damsel in distress who needs his rescue. She knows she can’t tell him about the classmate who assaulted her at a party, or her mother’s mystery boyfriend, or her deadbeat dad who just drained her college savings account. Anything Matt did to help would just make things worse—especially now that he’ll be going away to college without Raychel in the fall.
When Andrew shows interest in Raychel, she turns to him for distraction, even though he's not the brother she really wants. Then Matt catches them kissing on an autumn hiking trip, and his overreaction changes everything. After the fall, it’s Matt who’s in distress, and Raychel has to figure out a way to rescue them both.
In the vein of Sara Zarr’s Story of a Girl and Courtney Summers’ Cracked Up To Be, AFTER THE FALL is contemporary YA novel complete at 55,000 words.
Kate came to me via client referral, through the force of nature that is Kirsten Hubbard, another YAH gal whose YA debut, LIKE MANDARIN, will hit stores in March 2011. All I needed to know was that they were fangirls of each other's work to sense that Kirsten and Kate write from a similar place -- of daring and depth -- and that sense bore out once I read Kate's manuscript. Kirsten promised the first pages were so good she would blurb Kate's book herself. That endorsement, twinned with her one-line description of Kate's novel as a dark, sex-politically charged YA, was all I needed to hear. I sensed immediately, without even seeing a query letter, that AFTER THE FALL could be for me.
I asked Kirsten to send my email address and full ms request to Kate, and voila, it arrived. By that time, I think Kate let me know she had serious interest from other agents, if not at least one offer of rep with another on the way. I knew I had to read quickly. I would have anyway. Once I started I couldn't stop reading. And, it was interesting for me to do so without having any sense at all for where the story would go. I never saw Kate's query or plot description until after she signed with me. I felt thrown for the same loops as her characters, and felt just as emotionally disarmed as they did for not knowing what end Kate was expertly guiding us all towards. My reading experience with AFTER THE FALL was raw and intense. I knew I was in the hands of a natural storyteller, one who wasn't afraid to hurt her characters before she'd heal them, and could earn every pivot in her plot with some of the most searingly honest and beautiful prose I've met with.
Two days after receiving Kate's manuscript, I threw my hat in the ring. While Kate was fielding other great offers of rep that week and next, I was talking, and talking, about her characters, their motives, the parts of them I saw, for better or worse in myself, with my girl friends, none of whom work in teen publishing, all of whom had tons to say. By the time I was lucky enough to welcome Kate to my list, I knew it wasn't just me. I wasn't alone in feeling provoked by Kate's novel to talk and talk. And, I think one of the best things about contemporary YA is that it gets us all talking. If a contemporary YA sub can do that for me, I'm sold.
Want to query Michelle Andelman? Guidelines can be found at her agency's website.
Other installments in our query series:
- Kirsten Hubbard's query (with comments from Michelle Andelman)
- Lee Bross's query (with comments from Mandy Hubbard)
- Kody Keplinger's query (with comments from Joanna Stampfel-Volpe)
- Kristin Miller's query (with comments from Suzie Townsend)
- Kristin Otts's query (with comments from Michelle Andelman)
- Michelle Schusterman's query (with comments from Sarah Davies)