Since I previously blogged rather ecstatically HERE about signing with Mary Kole, I thought I'd focus this Agent Story post on the query letter that set my publication journey in motion. I hadn't looked at my query since late last year when I signed with Mary, and I had no idea re-reading it would fill me with all of the same dread and anxiety it did when I originally sent it! Query Letter Stomachache is apparently not a curable condition.
That said, before you read it, I feel the need to put out a few disclaimers (which may also serve as warnings for those still in the trenches):
1) I sound completely stuffed. I was trying to be business-like and professional, and I think I succeeded, but ZERO personality shines through in this letter. Yes, Mary offered representation anyway, and I realize there's a delicate balance between personality and weirdo, but use your best judgment.
2) THROUGH TO YOU is really not a paranormal novel. At the time I was very much under the impression "science fiction" was still a dirty word in YA. A lot has changed in nine months. If I queried today I might call it "light sci-fi," a term I heard more than once at SCBWI this summer.
3) THROUGH TO YOU is also not magical realism! I realized that after I read IMAGINARY GIRLS by Nova Ren Suma. If you want magical realism, read her book! My use of the term is further evidence of me being "sci-fi" phobic.
4) Note the previous rejection and lack of any publication credits (okay, to be fair, I did have an article published in a dog grooming magazine, but that was not relevant). Everyone gets rejected and everyone has to get their first publication somewhere. Mary offered representation because she liked THIS book.
All right, with all of that aside, I feel slightly less embarrassed posting this for the entire internet to see:
Dear Ms. Kole,
I was in touch with you last year about a previous novel, [REDACTED], at which time you encouraged me to submit other work to you in the future. I thought you might be interested in my latest YA paranormal novel, THROUGH TO YOU. It is complete at 59,000 words.
The day eighteen-year-old Camden Pike sees a ghost is the day he assumes he's finally lost it. For the last two months, he's been torturing himself over why he walked away from the car accident that killed his girlfriend, Viv. She was the last good thing in his life: helping him rebuild his identity after an injury ended his football career, and picking up the pieces when his home life shattered. With Viv at his side, his pain was manageable--she was all that mattered. He'd give anything for one glimpse of her again. But now there's a ghost...and it isn't her.
Cam quickly realizes the apparition, Nina, is not a ghost at all. She's a girl from another world--one where Cam was the one who died, and Viv is alive and well. Once he learns this, all he can focus on is getting his girlfriend back, no matter the cost. But the accident isn't the only thing different about this other world--Viv and Cam both made very different choices here that changed things between them. Nina is keeping some dangerous secrets and the window between the worlds is shrinking every day. As Cam comes to terms with who this Viv has become, he's forced to choose--stay with her, or let her go--before the window closes between them once and for all.
THROUGH TO YOU is a book that explores themes of unhealthy relationships and the power of choices within a magical realist atmosphere. Per your submissions guidelines, I have included the first ten pages below. A full manuscript is available upon request. I am currently querying other agents at this time. I appreciate you taking the time to consider my work.
Emily Hainsworth is the author of THROUGH TO YOU, (Fall 2012 Balzer+Bray / HarperCollins), a sci-fi novel about a seventeen-year-old boy grieving for his dead girlfriend until he discovers she's still alive in a parallel reality--one where he's the one who died. For more information, visit her website.