We're back with another edition of the Kickass Queries Series! This time, Summer Heacock (who you might recognize as @Fizzygrrl from Twitter) is sharing the query that won her offer of rep from Sarah LaPolla with Bradford Literary!
I am seeking representation for WITH A SHAKE OF HER HAIR, a women’s fiction manuscript complete at 81,000 words.
Ellie Donahue is drowning in Suburbia. She is driving a beige mini-van and wondering where the twenty-year-old version of herself disappeared to. The version that didn’t give a crap about high-fructose corn syrup and thought ramen noodles and beer was a balanced dinner.
Stuck in a predictable rut of routine Sunday night sex and Thursday night chicken, Ellie’s biggest concerns are running into meddlesome Sancti-mommies at the grocery store, or being forced by her nudist mother-in-law to listen to an AC/DC cover by her band, ‘The Noody Blues’ and trying to ignore the fact that they are indeed naked while singing it.
G: How many manuscripts did you query prior to signing with your agent?
S: I queried three manuscripts before signing with my agent. Oddly enough, the MS I was signed with was the first MS I’d ever queried. It had been sitting all lonely on my laptop for a few years when I dusted it off, revised a bit, and ran with it.
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?
S: My first query? Like, fifteen minutes because I was an actual idiot and had no idea what I was doing. My functional query that worked years later? I’m not entirely sure. I’d gone through maybe a dozen drafts of that query before I landed on what I thought would work.
When I look back on how this last version came about, the most important things to me were research and CPs. I spent a lot of time searching through “How To” query sites, and sent a loooot of variations to fellow queriers.
I can’t say it enough, in writing, you need people who will be honest with you. Someone who will tell you what is good, but also when you suck.
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?
S: I like to think of my querying self as two different people. There was early on, excitable puppy Summer who wanted to get her book out into the world, and four years later Summer who, as such, did not have her head lodged securely up her ‘tocks.
I find that going in small batches works best. Especially at first. If you have a fairly high request rate, carry on. If you aren’t getting requests, revise.
G: Now the fun part – what was “the call” like? How did you know your agent was the right person to represent your project?
S: I’d had a list of agents that had my work at the time, and I knew I was getting close to The Call. I had my favorites, ones that I would have sold a kidney to get an offer from. I was doing R&R’s for seven of them by the end.
But I swooned for Sarah when she sent me her notes requesting an R&R. I quite literally bounced up and down squealing as I read those notes. “OH MY GOSH SHE GETS MEEEEEEEEE!” is what my poor husband heard from across the house.
Exactly 26 minutes later I called her back and accepted. Because I am a smooth mofo.
G: If you could give one piece of advice to authors seeking publication, what would it be?
S: Wear a helmet.
Okay, perhaps something a little less ominous.
Surround yourself with people who are doing what you do, either in real life or online. Going through the fresh hell that is the road to publishing sucks a lot less when someone is walking that brimstone sidewalk with you. You will learn more, experience more, and come out a stronger writer in the end.
Thank you for sharing your hilarious query and story with us, Summer! Best of luck with SHAKE and all your writing endeavors!
Summer has been writing for fifteen years, and for the last eight years has been featured in her local paper, "Our Home Town", as the head writer for the Reviews and Opinions column. Her training is in Psychology and Creative Writing, and she also has a strong background in Theater and Stand-Up Comedy, a combination of experiences that I have been very helpful when writing. She is a stay-at-home-mother of two and is in the process of writing her next novel. You can follow her journey on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.