Deb Susan and the Query That Wasn’t

I’m sensing a pattern at the Ball this week and, as it turns out, I won’t be the one to break it.

I, too, obtained my agent without a query – though I have several years (and four trunk manuscripts) worth of queries in my past, so I can speak to the topic from experience.

Like Deb Kelly, I found the query an excellent vehicle for distilling my novel’s essence. Whether you call it a hook, a logline, or “that annoying two-line jacket-style summary  you use to open the query,” it’s an irreplaceable tool for knowing your work.

In fact, my query got me my agent, even though she never actually read it.

I discovered my agent, Sandra Bond, before I realized I was a mystery author (my first novels were straight historical fiction). After reading this blog describing Sandra’s talk to a writers’ group I told myself, “if I ever start writing mystery, that’s the agent I want to query.”

Two years later, I’d jumped the fence and landed firmly in the mystery camp. In September 2011 Sandra was scheduled to speak and take pitches at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Conference.* I was also presenting that year – a Master’s Class on contracts and a regular session class on publishing law. I didn’t get a pitch appointment with Sandra, but I ran into her at the presenter’s dinner (and didn’t SusanSpannpitch, though we had a great conversation) and again after the Saturday banquet (when I DID pitch, and she requested the manuscript).

Like my ninja detective, Hiro, I don’t believe in coincidence – but I do believe in acting on opportunity.

I had prepared the two-line summary for my query before I left for Colorado Gold, and I’m glad I did.

But for having my query ready, I wouldn’t have been prepared when the moment came.

Have you ever benefited from a query – or any other preparation – in unexpected ways? I’d love to hear about it, or about your query stories, in the comments!

*A note to those wondering whether lightning could ever strike twice: Sandra will be back at Colorado Gold in September 2013 – and I’ll be there too, this time signing copies of CLAWS OF THE CAT. I’d love to see you all there!

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8 thoughts on “Deb Susan and the Query That Wasn’t

  1. Great point about being prepared, Susan – because unexpected opportunities do show up. Also – I am coming to the Colorado Gold Conference this year!! And you will sign my copy of CLAWS OF THE CAT, which will be awesome!!!

    • Hooray!! I can’t wait to see you in Denver!! We’ll have a blast – and you can sign BETWEEN for me there too!! (By the way…I think the Random Penguin should also come to Colorado Gold.)

  2. It’s always important to have that elevator pitch ready! But given what I’ve heard from Amy, I think I’m the only Deb who got an agent through a query! Just goes to show there’s more than one way to find an agent :).

    • So true – and the good news is, the fact that there are multiple ways to “win” is a help to all of us. Sometimes I used to get discouraged when I heard all the different ways people met their agents, but now I realize it should be cause for encouragement!

  3. Susan, that conference looks amazing! Do they need another panelist? Can we get Dana and Amy to go too for a Deb Ball in real life?

    • The call for panels and speakers just went out – we’d definitely be in time to submit a proposal for a group blogging panel – this is something we should definitely discuss!

  4. If only!!!

    I love/hate distilling my work down to a paragraph or one line, but I think it’s essential because people will be asking you what your book is about for a long time.

    • So true! And even the ones who want to know start to glaze over if you go more than about a sentence. It’s a hard skill (for me at least) but a necessary one for sure.

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