carrie_ryan (carrie_ryan) wrote in fangs_fur_fey,
carrie_ryan
carrie_ryan
fangs_fur_fey

Carrie's Query for The Forest of Hands and Teeth

Here's the one-page query I sent to my agent:

Dear Mr. McCarthy:

I read on Publisher's Marketplace about your recent sale of Mark Henry's zombie novel, Happy Hour of the Damned, and thought you might be interested in The Forest of Hands and Teeth, my 70,000-word literary post-apocalyptic novel targeted to the young adult market. 

Generations after the zombie apocalypse known as The Return, Mary's life is as circumscribed by her community's strict religion as it is by the fences that form her village's only defense against the hordes of the undead -- the Unconsecrated -- who dwell in the surrounding forest. 

Her faith is shattered the day her mother becomes infected by the Unconsecrated, and her belief in her community is destroyed when she secretly witnesses the Church leadership imprison, then condemn, a miraculously non-infected outsider who somehow finds a safe path to the village.  The only other person who questions their Puritanical lifestyle is her betrothed's crippled brother, Travis, who has been assigned to wed Mary's best friend.  Mary is torn between her duty to friends and society and her growing love for Travis. 

When the Unconsecrated breach the fences and overrun the village, Mary, Travis, and their intendeds are among the few survivors.  Now, their only chance is to brave the outsider's path through the deadly Forest in an attempt to discover the only thing that Mary still believes in -- that there is a world beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth. 

I am an active member in Romance Writers of America and several of its subchapters.  The Forest of Hands and Teeth is my third completed manuscript and will appeal to fans of Alice Hoffman, Libba Bray, and Meg Rosoff. 

Per the submissions guidelines on your agency's website, I have pasted below the first chapter and synopsis.  I would be delighted to send the full manuscript at your request.  Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.  I look forward to hearing from you.                        

Sincerely,
Carrie Ryan

Some quick thoughts:

First, I must thank my wonderful, amazing, uber-talented critique partner, Diana Peterfreund, for writing the pitch part of this letter.  Thank goodness she believes that a critique partner is often in a much better position to boil down a book's essence rather than the writer.

Second, clearly I'm a big fan of personalizing query letters.  Every letter I sent had something specific to the agent, even if it was a mention that I'd enjoyed one of the books they represented.

Third, I sent this snail mail... but notice that in the last paragraph I put "I have pasted below..." oops!  I don't know if that was the way I wrote it in the original letter or if I just saved this letter before I made that change.  But just goes to show (a) I should have done another read through and (b) Jim didn't care.

Fourth, I always put that "per the guidelines on blah blah blah" part because I was terrified of breaking some agent's rules or pet peeve and I wanted to let them know that if I did, it was by accident and that there was bad information out there about what they wanted in a submission package.

Thanks for letting me share!  I love the whole query process :)
-Carrie

Tags: carrie ryan, queries
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