Congrats Shelia (friend and blog member) on finishing your first book! Good on you for getting it done. I know how much work it is.
So now that your getting ready to query here’s a copy of the letter I sent to Orca for ‘Just J’:
06 June 2005
Orca Book Publishers
Attn: Andrew Wooldridge
PO Box 5626, Station B
Dear Mr. Wooldridge
Please consider my finished Young Adult book, Jenevieve, for publication. I’ve always enjoyed first person accounts, both reading and writing, and the books that I read in my youth are the ones that were the most influential in my life, which is why I am drawn to writing teen fiction. This particular manuscript was completed with the assistance of a Toronto Arts Council grant.
From authors such as Beth Goobie and her contribution to your Orca Sounding Series, ‘Sticks and Stones’, also written in first person, I see and admire your willingness to address teen topics with stronger subject matter. Jenevieve deals with a young woman struggling to come to grips with the death of her mother. Jenevieve’s father—unable to cope with the loss of his wife—sends her away for the summer with an aunt that Jenevieve has never met, or heard about, before her mother’s funeral. Abandoned by both parents, Jenevieve finds herself in the company of an eccentric aunt and her albino friend, who take Jenevieve from urban comfort to country basics; bringing her to a decrepit house which she is expected to help renovate. Jenevieve finds escape in her sarcasm and in the sand dunes which are walking distance from the house. In the dunes, she meets Sean, a local boy who she quickly befriends as they go in the search of, Moonlight Palace, a mythical dance hall, buried in the dunes, where the sands of time have ceased to run. If you find this storyline permissible, would you review the enclosed first 29 pages (six chapters) of the 30,000 word Young Adult book?
Thanks for considering this query. My SASE is for your response only, not for the return of any materials.
62 Glenlake Ave.
[This is, of course, no longer my address.]
I sent out six in total. After I was finished, ‘Just J’, I looked for and read other books written in a similar vein. I then chose the publishers that I thought would be most receptive and got the names (making sure on spelling) of which editors I should be approaching. God is in the details. They get a lot of manuscripts and are looking to weed out as much as bring in.
On that note, once you’ve done the research and had a couple weeks away from your own manuscript go back and look at it with fresh eyes. Make sure it is the best it can be. And also be sure that the formatting is correct, good quality paper, even using a laser printer if possible. Anything you can do to make it look more professional will help it stand out. It’s a tough business, but have faith. I posted some rejections letters on the blog earlier, they should help keep you going and remind you not to take any of it personally, which is easier said than done.