Monday, March 24, 2014

Kickass Queries Series! # 4 - Rebecca Phillips

Happy Monday, Peeps!

I'm happy to present the 4th installment of the Kickass Queries Series, where authors like you and me share the queries that snagged their offer of representation or publication.

Today we're talking with the talented Rebecca Phillips, repped by Carly Watters at P.S. Literary!

Rebecca's Query:

At eleven years old, Riley Tate witnessed the sudden death of her father. Now, at sixteen, she still can’t bring herself to step on “the spot”—the section of kitchen floor on which her father landed after collapsing from a brain aneurysm. For someone like Riley, a hypochondriac with anxiety issues, moving on is never easy.
Since losing her dad, Riley has become obsessed with the human body, how it works, and what can go wrong with it. Reading about diseases distracts her from the things she’s not ready to deal with, like the fact that her mother started a whole new family with a man who has more muscles than brains and tries to act like her new dad. And that her doctor thinks she’s a mental case. And that her ex-boyfriend dumped her because she wouldn’t have sex with him. But she refuses to let anything—especially not a guy—interfere with her dream of becoming a surgeon.

When she meets Cole Boyer in an ER waiting room, Riley realizes immediately that he’s far from the safe, predictable boy she usually goes for.  A fearless daredevil with mysterious scars and a thirst for all things dangerous, Cole is like an accident waiting to happen. Still, despite their differences, they forge an unlikely friendship that eventually blossoms into something more. Dating someone who’s so casual about death has its challenges, but as Riley soon learns, not everyone can be—or needs to be—saved.

OUT OF NOWHERE was one of the three finalists in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, YA category. Publishers Weekly called it “a very good example of a contemporary coming-of-age novel, with well-rounded characters and honest emotion.” With a blend of heavy issues and humor, OUT OF NOWHERE explores the total randomness of life, death, and love.

G: How many manuscripts did you query prior to signing with your agent?

R: Just two. I queried my first book, Just You, a few years ago with little success. My third book, Out of Nowhere, was the manuscript that got me my agent, Carly Watters of P.S. Literary Agency. I queried Out of Nowhere for less than three weeks before signing with Carly.

G: How long did it take to write your query, and what things/steps do you think were most important to make it agent-ready? 

R: It took me a few days, and I had help from friends. I also researched how to write a query and spent a lot of time studying other authors' queries. It's really tough to boil down an entire manuscript into a couple of paragraphs, but it gets easier with practice. It's important to show who your character is, what they want, what or who is standing in their way, and what is at stake.

G: Tell us about your query style – do you approach your entire list of prospectives at once, or query in small batches and revise in between?

R: The first time I queried, I did it in small batches. The second time, I went nuts and queried lots of agents at once.

G: Now the fun part – what was “the call” like? How did you know your agent/editor was the right person to represent/publish your project?

R: That first call with Carly was surreal. At the time, I was still reeling from the wild, wonderful experience of being a finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, and the fact that an agent wanted to sign me seemed too good to be true. I had a list of questions an author is supposed to ask an agent, but I don't think I asked many of them. I liked how enthusiastic Carly was about my story and my writing, and the fact that she's a fellow Canadian didn't hurt either.

G: If you could give one piece of advice to authors seeking publication, what would it be?

R: Read, research, seek feedback, be patient, and never give up.

*** What Carly had to say about Rebecca ***

"Rebecca Phillips caught my eye for the following reasons: her query was concise, tightly-written, and started with the stakes for her main character that felt life or death to me. Her query didn't read like a synopsis, it read like back cover copy. I'm a sucker for YA contemporary, especially a romance, and Rebecca's writing fulfilled everything I look for: a relatable heroine, an intriguing love interest and a plot that wasn't just about the romance. Rebecca was a 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award finalist which provided her with a quote from Publishers Weekly that helped me understand what the industry saw it in it too. Not only did Rebecca's query stand out, but her professionalism on the phone, her commitment to her craft, and unwavering collaborative spirit make her a dream client to this day."

Thanks for chatting with us, Carly and Rebecca! Best of luck to both of you with this awesome-sounding book!

Rebecca Phillips lives just outside the beautiful city of Halifax, Nova Scotia with her husband, two children, and one spoiled rotten cat. She absolutely loves living so close to the ocean. When she's not tapping away on her trusty laptop, she can be found vacuuming up cat hair, spending time with her family, watching reality TV, reading all different genres of books, or strolling around the bookstore with a vanilla latte in her hand.
Rebecca is always writing something, even if it's just a grocery list. These days, she is hard at work on her next novel. You can find out more and connect with Rebecca on her website:


  1. I want to go out and read this now based on the query! Thanks for sharing!

  2. This book sounds really good based on the query, and like the type of book that I would read. It sounds powerful and emotional.