Guest Blog by Kara Leigh Miller, author of Death of a Waterfall (The Hayden Falls Saga)
Ah, the dreaded query. It's the bane of every author's existence. A great query can grab the editors or agents attention and get them to ask you for your full manuscript. A bad query, however, can get you rejected quickly. So, what's an author to do? How do you condense a 60,000+ word novel down into a single page? I'm not going to lie. It can be difficult. And I'm no expert on query letters, but I will tell you my method for writing a query.
After I finished my first novel, it was time to start querying, but like most new authors, I had no idea where to start. So, I asked a friend who is a fellow author and has a Masters in English. She taught college level English courses and more specifically, business correspondence. She gave me some advice that has always stuck with me. She said, "Approach it like you would any other professional business letter." Then she broke it down like this for me:
- Paragraph One: Introduce yourself and state why you are writing.
- Paragraph Two: Pitch your story.
- Paragraph Three: Pitch your story.
- Paragraph Four: Provide your credentials, accomplishments, contact information, and thank them for their time.
It seemed so simple. I figured I give it a shot. So, I did. And it worked! Here's the actual query I wrote for my newest novel, Death of a Waterfall.
My name is Kara Leigh Miller, and I’m writing to query you regarding my contemporary romance novel. Set in the fictional small town of Hayden Falls, California, Death of a Waterfall is approximately a 60,000 word contemporary romance and the first book in the Hayden Falls Trilogy.
Twenty year old, college freshman, Teghan Jacobs didn’t think anything could be worse than learning she’s pregnant by a man she’s been dating less than six months. Boy was she wrong. Her mother, whose drowning in the river of denial, refuses to take a side on the issue. Teghan is lying to all of her friends for fear of being ostracized by them. And her overbearing, manipulative father threatens to disown her and cut her off from her trust fund if she doesn’t have an abortion.
Donnie Marks couldn’t be happier. The woman he loves, the woman he fought so hard to be with, is going to have his baby. For him, life has never been better. But when she shows up in his dorm room, sobbing and heartbroken, he learns the horrible truth of what happened to her and his child. He vows to get revenge on the man who's responsible: Teghan's father.
Currently I’ve had my short story "Kamalia" published in July 2012 in Temptation Magazine Online. Love by Number: The Aurora Island Resort Series, an erotic novella, was published in September 2012 by Cobblestone Press. The second and third books in this series are currently under contract with Cobblestone Press as well. Never Date a Cop, an erotic novella, was published by Books to Go Now in October 2012.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my novel and I eagerly await hearing from you. I can be reached by email at: email@example.com.
Is my method the best one? I don't know. But it works for me, and I'm a firm believer that if it's not broken, don't fix it. I'm curious, how do all of you approach the query letter? Do you have a formula you use?
AUTHOR WEBSITE: www.karaleighmiller.com
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BOOK BLURB: Teghan Jacobs didn't think anything could be worse than learning she's pregnant by a man she's been dating less than six months. Boy, was she wrong. Her mother, whose drowning in the river of denial, refuses to take a side on the issue. And her overbearing, manipulative father threatens to disown her and cut her off from her trust fund if she doesn't have an abortion.
Donnie Marks couldn't be happier. The woman he loves, the woman he fought so hard to be with, is going to have his baby. Life has never been better. But when she shows up in his dorm room, sobbing and heartbroken, he learns the horrible truth of what happened. He vows to get revenge on the man who's responsible: Teghan's father.
Teghan walked to the door and opened it. "Get out."
He approached her. "I'm not leaving." They stared at each other in a silent battle of wills. "I know I broke a promise to you and I'm sorry, but I come here to fess up, to make things right and I find you with another guy. I'm the one who should be angry here, Teghan, not you." He crossed his arms over his chest. There was no way in hell he was leaving when he knew she was so angry with him--all though he still didn't know why she was so pissed.
"Fine." She swung the door closed.
Donnie hated the way her voice had flattened. "We can get through this," he said.
She faced him. "You wanna know the best part of Alex's message?"
He cringed. God only knows what Alex said. "No." He really didn't want to know, but knew he had to hear it.
"Alex said he still loves me, and that's why he made that bet with you. The one where you two bet me over a basketball game. You know the one I'm talking about, don't you, Donnie?"
Donnie looked at her, stunned. "What?" Of everything Alex could've told her, Donnie hadn't expected Alex to tell her that. Why had he? Surely it didn't look good for Alex either.
"Don't play dumb. I want to know what the bet was," she said.
"Does it really matter?"
"Yes." Teghan folded her arms across her chest and leaned up against the door.
Donnie sighed. "Alex and I bet on a basketball game. I win and I get to take you out. Alex wins and I walk away from you for good. It was just a stupid bet, Teghan. It didn't mean anything. We were drinking and…"
"Who won?" Donnie looked down at the floor. "Who won?" she repeated.
AUTHOR BIO: Born and raised in the small town of Mexico, New York, Kara was an only child who was forced to find ways to entertain herself. Playing make believe with her Barbie dolls and stuffed animals was her first real taste of storytelling before she became old enough to develop a love affair with the written word. In early 2010, Kara picked up her very first erotic romance novel, and she was instantly hooked. She loves to write contemporary romance, erotica, and young adult romance.
She's the author of several erotic novellas, The Georgia Corbins, a YA romance, and a handful of short stories. Kara is an active member of the CNY Writers Haven and the CNY Romance Writers. In addition, she's an Associate Editor at Entranced Publishing.
Today, Kara resides in New Haven, New York with her husband, five kids, three cats, and two puppies. When she's not reading or writing, she's thinking about reading and writing. And when she's not doing that, she's spending time with her family and friends.