writing

The query letter that helped me attract a publisher

I believe in generously sharing my journey, especially when it comes to my writing. People often ask me, “how did you get a book published?” When Emerson was first published, I had been querying agents without much success. Most never responded and any others that did respond were rejections. My favorite rejection was a response I received 5 minutes after I sent my query letter, and it had just two letters: “No”. That was the entire response. I am a pro in rejection.

I eventually found my first publisher by live pitching the book to them at an event I attended when I lived in D.C.

My new publisher that will republish my first novel and the other two books in the trilogy I got via query letter. I didn’t know anyone there. I’d never met them, they didn’t know my work prior to my query, and I sent it to the general submissions inbox that was listed on their website. The query process is often harrowing (or at least it was for me!) but it does work.

Here is the timeline from query to contract with my publisher:

  • October 29th – sent query
  • November 16th – I got a request for the full manuscript
  • February 1st – I was invited to a meeting to talk about possible publication.
  • February 11th – Met the acquiring editor via Zoom
  • February 14th – They made an offer to publish the whole Emerson Page trilogy

In the spirit of generosity, I wanted to share the letter I wrote that led to my publisher requesting the full manuscript. I hope as you’re crafting your query letters, this letter will help you!

Dear Editors,
My novel, EMERSON PAGE AND WHERE THE LIGHT LEADS, is a young adult adventure novel that draws inspiration from Greek and Celtic mythology. Given your interest in publishing stories that push the boundaries, I thought Emerson’s story would be a fit. Per your submission guidelines, please find a brief synopsis and my bio below. 

Synopsis
Fifteen-year-old Emerson Page is committed to fulfilling her mother’s legacy— gain access to a fantastical underworld hidden below Dublin, Ireland where an ancient book authored by the Greek muses is being held hostage. A world-renowned anthropologist, her mother gave her life to protect this book because it contains the secrets to unlimited human creativity. In the hands of someone who wants to build a better world, this book is a priceless gift. In the hands of someone who seeks to control humanity, it’s a dangerous weapon.

With her two best friends and her service dog, Friday, Emerson sets out from her home in New York City in a race against a formidable enemy—a former family friend turned traitor with powerful gifts of his own who seeks the book for himself. Emerson and her friends face near-impossible physical, mental, and emotional struggles on their journey that push every limit they have. All the while, the clock is ticking. The window between this ancient world and their home is only open for twenty-four hours.

Publishing history
This is my second novel. Thumbkin Prints published my first novel, EMERSON PAGE AND WHERE THE LIGHT ENTERS, in 2017. It received strong reviews and was featured by Kirkus Reviews and Midwest Book Review among others. It won several awards including: 2017 Nautilus Book Award for Young Adult Fiction (Silver), 2018 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal in Young Adult Adventure and the Wind Dancer Films Award, was one of 25 finalists out of 1,200 submissions the ScreenCraft Cinematic Book Competition, winner of TopShelf Magazine Award for young adult mythology / fairy tale, was #1 on Coverfly’s THE RED LIST for 2019 Adventure Book Manuscripts, and remains at #5 on THE RED LIST two years later. I was also chosen as a featured speaker at the Virginia Festival of the Book in 2018. Unfortunately, Thumbkin Prints closed its doors due to recent financial hardship. Thankfully, all rights for my novel reverted back to me when they closed.

Bio
I write stories about women and girls who are underestimated and determined to rise. I have a career and life that melds my passion for storytelling, business, and scientific research in the field of biomimicry. A proud graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, the Darden School at the University of Virginia, and Arizona State University, my work focuses on collaboratively building products, services, and experiences that create a better world. I also have a deep love for discovering history’s hidden narratives, secrets, and perspectives.

I’ve been an invited speaker at SXSW, Games for Change, New York University, Columbia University, Cornell Tech, City University of New York, the Brooklyn Brainery, and Wildlife Conservation Society. My non-fiction writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Royal Media Partners publications, Pipeline Artists, The Biomimicry Institute’s Ask NatureThe Henry Ford magazine, Inside History, and Natural History Magazine. I was a producer for the PBS television series Live at 9:30 and am now a producer for Carnegie Hall’s digital media initiatives.

I began my career managing Broadway shows and national theater tours. I spent over a decade as a product leader in the technology industry. Now I’m the Founder of Double or Nothing Media, a company that provides product development services and the business strategies to bring those products to life. Powered by joy and curiosity, I live in New York City with my rescue dog, Phineas, and am equally inspired by ancient wisdom and modern technology. I share my never-ending curiosity on Twitter @christanyc, Instagram @christarosenyc, and my personal website, Curating a Creative Life, at christaavampato.com.  

Thank you for your time and consideration of my work. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely yours, 

Christa Avampato

I'd love to know what you think of this post! Please leave a reply and I'll get back to you in a jiffy! ~ CRA

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