Nicole’s query letter resulted in representation with Adams Literary for her debut novel, BLACKHEARTS and a publishing contract with Simon Pulse. She was about to give up on the project and move on…again…when an editor came knocking. (See Nicole’s personal story of her query letter road to success below her query letter!)
Dear Ms. Lee,
I am very impressed by your agency’s client list, and know you represent YA fiction. I recently
parted amicably with my agent and am seeking representation for my YA historical manuscript,
THE LEGEND OF EDWARD TEACH. It’s the story of the making of Blackbeard.
Nearly everyone has heard of Blackbeard the Pirate, rumored to strike fear into the hearts of the
bravest of sailors. However, nobody has heard the story of how at eighteen, he fell in love with
Anne; a sixteen-year-old servant in his father’s household. She set him on his path to becoming
the most notorious pirate to sail the seven seas.
The son of a wealthy merchant, eighteen-year-old Edward Drummond, or ‘Teach’, as his friends
call him, returns from an adventurous season aboard a merchant ship to a house full of conflict.
He is roped into a betrothal to a girl he no longer cares for and excluded from his father’s
Teach is determined to set a new path—and it starts with his father’s newest and largest
merchant ship, the Deliverance. But he’s not the only person to see the Deliverance as an
opportunity for escape.
Sixteen-year-old Anne knows she was not meant to be a servant, but after the death of her
parents, her jealous half-brother forced her to work in the Drummond household. She will stop at
nothing to secure her freedom and a life to the New World, even if she has to stowaway or filch
enough coin to buy her passage.
When their roads converge, the path is anything but smooth. If they don’t obtain their
independence, they will both remain captives, trapped by society and their own circumstances.
For Anne and Teach, liberty with peril is preferable to peace with captivity.
The complete manuscript (82,000 words) is available upon request.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.
When I was in the query trenches, I loved to read about success stories. Mine is quite a long journey to publication. My mother always told me I should write and when I was younger, I always said I would be a writer one day. But I went to college, got married, had children and never seemed to have the time.
In 2008, I became serious about my writing. I wrote a manuscript and made a huge mistake. I sent it off as soon as I was done with it. No critique partners, no beta readers. Nothing, because I was embarrassed to show anyone what I’d written. Needless to say, I received a ton of rejections. I made that mistake with my next two manuscripts, and received even more rejections. (My advice to writers is to find someone who will be honest with you about your manuscript and tell you what works and what doesn’t. Family members mean well, but they don’t count.)
By my fourth manuscript, I’d learned my lesson and I finally landed an agent at a large and prestigious agency. After writing seriously for two years, I thought I’d made it. But I wasn’t done with rejections. My manuscript didn’t sell and after 18 months working together, my agent and I parted ways. It happens. It was amicable, but I still felt gutted, because it meant I was back to square one. It was not a fun position to be in, but I reminded myself that I had managed to get an agent once. I could do it again.
That was when I came up with the idea for my Blackbeard story. And it was the best manuscript I’d written to date. I couldn’t write fast enough. The story had a life of its own, and I knew it was special. I still believe it’s special. I landed my agent with the query letter written below. I can’t remember how many partials or fulls I received, but I had a few. After a brief revision, my agent sent it out on submission. And it was rejected. Again. And again. And again. While it was out on submission, I wrote another manuscript. And another. (Another bit of advice is to keep writing. Always try to have story ideas flowing, because it keeps you occupied.) After several months, my agent said it was time to move on to one of my other manuscripts. We were about to send one of them out on submission, when we received an email from one of the editors who had loved my Blackbeard story, but hadn’t been able to purchase it. She’d moved to another publishing house and said if the story was still available, she’d like to see it again.
Long story short, (too late!) she acquired it and my debut novel, now titled BLACKHEARTS comes out on 2/9/16 by Simon Pulse (Simon&Schuster)
I couldn’t be happier and I know that everything that happened with this story happened for a reason. My writing has improved dramatically since my first disastrous manuscript. Just like with any other art (music, painting, singing) you have to practice in order to improve. And if you want it badly enough, you must never, ever, ever give up. No matter how hard it is. If you want to be published, keep at it. Write an amazing story and you will succeed.
So that’s my story.
BLACKHEARTS won’t be available for pre-order on Amazon until June.