Holy cow, that was fast! I submitted my query letter (and first three pages of my novel) yesterday afternoon about 5:00 pm using Query Manager according to the agent’s submission guidelines. Most agents take weeks, if not months, to respond to a writer’s query. Not this one; by 7:00 pm I had emailed the agent asking for any information about why the agent rejected my query. Eighty to ninety-five percent of agents don’t provide that info. The most they will say is the novel isn’t a good fit for them, or the first chapter didn’t “grab” them. I understand literary agents receive hundreds of queries so I can’t honestly expect a detailed explanation. Despite no response to my follow-up email, I am happy that this agent responded quickly so I don’t wait anxiously for months.
For those of you who are interested, here’s my three-sentence pitch and one-page query letter. Please don’t hesitate to provide feedback, suggestions, advice, comfort (you don’t have to send me a 6-pack of Guinness Stout, though), or humorous comments about my writing skills 🙂
By the way, I changed the novel’s title from “A Wished-For Love” to “Aida.”
Three-sentence Elevator Pitch:
“Aida flees provincial Bataan in the Philippines for Olongapo, site of a U.S. Navy base, to realize her dream: a one-way ticket to America with the first Sailor she can land, but Tom suspects she loves him more for his citizenship than for his heart. Aida does everything in her power to get Tom to propose, and he does, but has second thoughts when he meets Sasi, a smooth talking, Thai hotel manager who could be Tom’s beloved but dead Spanish fiancée reincarnated. When Aida finds out about Sasi, not even the trifecta of weather phenomena–erupting volcano, earthquakes, and super typhoon–can equal her fury.”
The elevator pitch is used to quickly describe your story to agents at writers’ conferences or to the agent you’ve cornered in an elevator before the door opens and she runs for the police. It is also used in Pitch Fests hosted by websites (like Savvy Authors and Twitter) where you pitch your novel to many agents on one site.
One-page Query Letter:
Thank you for taking the time to consider my query. AIDA, a 95,000-word contemporary romance novel, is a provocative story of fairy tale love, betrayal, innocence lost, and love renewed, and the life-changing impact on its characters.
AIDA tells the story of a young woman who flees her poor village in Bataan for Olongapo, site of a U.S. Navy base in the Philippines. Aida flees to realize her lifelong dream: a one-way ticket to America with the first Sailor she can land. Tom falls for Aida but soon suspects she loves him more for his citizenship than his heart. Aida does everything in her power to get Tom to propose, and he does, but has second thoughts when he falls for Sasi, a smooth-talking hotel manager he meets while deployed to Thailand. Sasi so closely resembles Susanna, Tom’s beloved but dead Spanish fiancée, in appearance, manner, and thought, that he sees her as Susanna reincarnated. When Aida finds out about Sasi through a letter from Tom’s old flame, Lek, who stalks him in Thailand, she confronts him with all the anger of a spurned lover before leaving him when an earthquake strikes the city. Not even the trifecta of weather phenomena–erupting volcano, earthquakes, and super typhoon–can equal Aida’s fury.
AIDA revolves around two timelines, with the main timeline telling the story of Aida and Tom. The second timeline tells the story of Tom’s parents and their fairy tale love, a love that Tom, an orphan, has come to believe is the only kind of love that exists. Tom’s mother died giving birth to him. His father, he believes, died in Vietnam. The timelines merge when mutual friends bring Tom and his father, very much alive, together. Not only does Tom find his father, and through him his mother, but he discovers that his search for love after Susanna’s death was a search for the fairy tale he made his parents’ relationship to be. Tom learns that love cannot be imitated or replicated, that each couples’ love is borne of two people whose love is unique. Tom finds that Aida’s love is the love he has searched for all his life.
The novel draws on the real-life struggles of Filipino and Thai women like Aida and Lek anxious to flee the poverty of their villages for the promised land of America. AIDA will appeal to adults who enjoy a love story, and to readers of Nicholas Sparks, Cecilia Ahearn, and Jojo Moyes.
Thank you for your time,”
The one-page query letter is submitted to literary agents following the guidelines you’ve read on their webpage. They will tell you exactly want they want in your query letter: title, genre, and word count; two paragraphs (more or less) that grab their attention and make them request more chapters or, best of all, the full manuscript.
I’m disappointed in the rejection, but life goes on. Writers write; writers don’t quit. If you know your story is good; if you know people need to read your story; if you know there is an agent out there who wants your story, you have to press on. You have to Write On!