Okay. Moment of truth. My current project, THROUGH DARK SPACES, is ready to leave the nest. I’ve done everything I possibly could to prepare it for the world, and I’m pleased with the result. I’m SURE that any New York agent who reads the manuscript will feel the same way So. How to get one to read it?
The query. The sales pitch. Here’s the one I’m currently sending. So far I’ve received several rejections—nice personal notes, but rejections nonetheless. What’s lacking in this query? Is it the subject matter? The writing? My creds? What?
I’d love to know what you think, so please give it a read.
Ms. Agent XXX
XXX Literary Agency
New York, New York 10000
Dear Ms. XXX:
Environmental disasters lead the news today, from coal mine explosions in West Virginia to the massive crude oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. My thriller, THROUGH DARK SPACES, examines a similar environmental disaster—one that results when environmental laws are deliberately broken.
The protagonist of THROUGH DARK SPACES, environmental engineer Hannah Morrison, is desperate to save her fledgling business. She takes a consulting job with a South Dakota gold mine and discovers that somebody is poisoning the water in the beautiful Black Hills. While she struggles to find out who and why, she must deal with her estranged sister, a self-centered, successful fashion model; she must grapple with the guilt engendered by an employee lying in a hospital bed on life support and, hardest of all, she must confront her deepest fears—of tight dark spaces, of a murderer armed with explosives deep underground and, ultimately, of losing her life.
I spent nine years working as an environmental engineer in a Minnesota oil refinery and another year as a consultant to a gold mine cleanup. My first novel, UNREASONABLE RISK, a thriller about sabotage in an oil refinery, was published by ArcheBooks Publishing in 2006. I’ve also published several short stories and travel pieces over the last several years, and have posted two of my favorites at my website. I’m an active member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Black Hills Writers Group and several critique groups. I have also participated on panels at Omaha’s Mayhem in the Midlands, a mystery readers’ conference, and sold out of books there. At the Nebraska Summer Writers Conference in 2009, my instructor, Curtis Sittenfeld, felt that my work had enough promise to recommend me to an agent, but the agent she suggested does not represent thrillers.
THROUGH DARK SPACES is complete at 110,000 words. I would be happy to send you all or a portion of the manuscript, and I hope you will consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks very much for your time.
In my next post, I’ll examine this letter and discuss why I wrote it the way I did.