Query (Pitch) Letter
When I started my journey two years ago as a writer, I never knew what a pitch or a query was. I had no idea that the literary world was a hurry up and wait kind of industry. It can take years to write a complete manuscript and then months to years more in the editing phase. And after you’ve pitched your book to agents and editors, you still have to send query letters for representation and publishing. It can take months to never to get a response back and often times, it’s a rejection of “no thanks - not for me”. I am one of the lucky ones. I pitched to five people at a conference in September 2018 and got four nods. I queried fifteen people and have gotten four responses within six weeks. So what did my query letter look like? See below.
Sample Query Letter:
I am seeking representation for my debut novel, SNOW IN VIETNAM, which was a finalist in the 2018 Pacific Northwest Writers Association literary contest, in the historical fiction genre. The total word count for the book is 96,671 words. The story takes place in southeast Asia in the 1970s. After the fall of Saigon and the Vietnam War ends, a Vietnamese woman named Snow struggles to care for her dying daughter and survive daily life under communist rule. With no husband and no money, she makes alliances with unlikely characters to sell illegal items in the black market until she has enough money to escape her country.
I believe this story will appeal to you because of the international setting (Vietnam and Indonesia) and the high stakes involved. The protagonist is the youngest of seven children who always relied on her family to take care of her. The story begins with Snow getting married to a man she is not in love with and who turns out to be a traitor. After the war ends and the U.S. military withdraws from Vietnam, life under communist rule becomes unbearable. Betrayed by her husband and left with a sick daughter to raise, Snow learns to break free from the confinements of cultural expectations, communist scrutinies, and familial duties, to keep her family one step ahead of starvation. Ultimately, she braves the unknown of the South China Sea with her daughter, nephew and other boat refugees to escape their country for a chance at freedom. Her one motivation is to keep her daughter alive. At every turn, her courage and wit are tested by her family, the government, the Thai pirates and the Indonesian military.
There are elements of humor, romance and heartache injected throughout these pages of fear and uncertainty. Strength from family and trust in oneself are at the heart of this book. If you take elements of Viet Thanh Nguyen's THE REFUGEES and Oliver Stone's docudrama HEAVEN & EARTH, and throw in sprinkles of Kevin Kwon's CRAZY RICH ASIANS, you'll get SNOW IN VIETNAM.
As an emerging author, I am excited for my debut book that was inspired by my family's escape. I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the United States in 1980 at the age of five with my mother and cousin. I lived in the Seattle area most of my life and graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A. degree in Sociology. After working for twenty years in the technology and telecommunications sector for companies like Microsoft Corporation and T-Mobile US Inc., I left my corporate job to write SNOW IN VIETNAM as a tribute to my mother after she passed from cancer. Currently, I live in Edmond, OK with my husband, son, and four pets. In my spare time, I love to experiment with new recipes, read books, and go to the movies. I also love spending time with friends and family wine tasting, traveling, playing mah jong, and watching American football or the Ultimate Fighting Championships. I am a member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) and the Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc. (OWFI).
Per your submission guidelines, below are the synopsis and first three chapters of the manuscript. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
All the best,
Amy M. Le