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Query that got me representation (Memoir / S&M Romance)


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#1 Phoebe Schultz

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  • Publishing Experience:*STOP PRESS* - my query is now posted under 'Exobia' (as of 10 July 2015) - do please take time to critique it. I'll return the favour!
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    Have written 7 books on real life experiences, but not yet attempted to publish any of them.
    Almost finished editing the first book I want to publish.

Posted 13 October 2015 - 07:48 AM

Hi All,
Some of you will remember I was piecing this memoir query together over the summer. I started submissions in September, and got offered Representation within a few weeks :-) !!
The ACTUAL query I wrote to the agent who offered rep is below.
There are various schools of thought on where to put the word-count paragraph, but immediately after the hook is apparently the 'best place'. 
Although non-fiction, memoir is pitched like fiction, with one main exception: using first person voice. There's also an extra paragraph in my query which justifies how I put my true story together (not necessarily required for fiction queries).
Ultimately from my experience here is what counts:
1. The subject matter and hook grabs the agent's interest.
2. Your literacy is clearly evident from your query.
3. You click with the agent and the fit is perfect.
Good luck everyone. It will be a while before my book hits the streets as we have a legal mountain to climb first (putting true stories into the public domain is complex!!) ;-)  
Phoebe :-)
 
 
Dear <<NAME OF AGENT>>,
 
Tonight I am going to be tortured for the woman I love. She is not in danger and I don't have to go through this, but I choose to suffer because I am a consenting adult, engaging in sadomasochism. In fact, my assailant is the very woman I love.
 
EXOBIA (complete at 104,000 words) is my memoir telling the love story of an interracial master-slave relationship between two women. It explores the underground world of domination, submission and resulting distress.
 
Tomo is a cruel and sadistic Japanese dominatrix. When she declares I'm the only woman she wants to see suffering, she captures my heart and unleashes my desires. I fall hopelessly in love and yearn to be enslaved under her whip. I give up my life in Dubai and move to Tokyo where she whisks me away for a night of grueling torture. She strips me naked, hangs me from the ceiling, and flogs me until I nearly faint. We reach a transcendental bliss.
 
But Tomo's instability and volatile mood swings traumatize me. When she fails to execute the punishment I'm due, an emotional void erupts in me. I become desperate for her domination, and a growing addiction to physical pain exacerbates my anguish. So tempestuous is the engagement I fear for my sanity. With the help of a psychic, I become convinced it's my heaven-sent purpose to save Tomo from her inner turmoil. Only my faith and unconditional love drive me on to endure the degradation and suffering. 
 
In my story I hope you will find the explicit honesty of Belle de Jour, the wretchedness of The Story of O, and the self-discovery of Eat, Pray, Love.
 
EXOBIA is my first attempt to publish. It's a standalone story, but intended as the first part of a trilogy. I wrote about my experiences with Tomo as they happened, capturing the raw emotions of the encounter and the gruesome details of the torture. It is not for the fainthearted! I have concealed identities in the book and plan to publish under a pseudonym, but I will be available in person for all marketing purposes. I am targeting readers with an interest in memoirs and fascination for extraordinary things happening to 'normal' people.
 
When I am not writing, I work as a <<my occupation>> based in <<my location>>. I have been engaged in the S&M world since 2002, in both <<location>> and Tokyo. I'm a <<my nationality>> citizen, but I've lived in Tokyo for over seven years.
 
A full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Please check out the NEW DRAFT of my query!!

http://agentquerycon...ia-memoir-–-sm/


#2 Carney

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 08:28 AM

Congratulations on securing representation. I remember reading your first few query tries and being fascinated by your story. Thank you for posting this copy of a successful query. I note that you stepped somewhat outside the "preferred" mold for such letters. Frankly, I've come to suspect that the form we all espouse as the RIGHT ONE, is actually not right for everyone. Listening to agents and publishers at a recent workshop, I heard rumblings about how many are tired of the formulaic approach to querying that we have been told must be followed. The dictates about where to place information, how to begin, how to end, what to include, word count, etc. are all things to be aware of, but I think your example points to the bottom line fact: if the story is well constructed and we clearly show that story in the query, all the other stuff becomes much less important. 



#3 dogsbody

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 03:42 PM

Congrats!



#4 ah_522

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Posted 13 October 2015 - 04:44 PM

I remember seeing this QL and thinking I had nothing to add because it was so gripping. Congrats, Phoebe!



#5 Tanja

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Posted 16 October 2015 - 06:50 AM

I am so happy for you. This is really great. I knew it wouldn't take you long to get an offer. Congrats


Query:  10 DAY BETRAYAL

             10 DAY CONSPIRACY

 

Twitter: @tccorrey


#6 B. L. Hickey

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  • Publishing Experience:My Keeper, is a YA fantasy/romance. Through The Door, a YA crime thriller with a touch of romance. Winter's Blood, a supernatural/horror novelette, released 2/24/2016. Currently, writing under a pen name with five novella's/novelette's self-published.(Eight books published)

Posted 30 October 2015 - 02:57 PM

I am so happy for you Phoebe! I knew your memoir would be a hit from the moment I read it. Keep us updated. I can't wait to read it. Congratulations. :biggrin:



#7 kyriakos

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Posted 01 November 2015 - 10:58 AM

A full or partial manuscript is available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Congrats ! Nothing to add or comment on your query since it has achieved its goal.

I am new at this writing queries, chasing agents situation but your query was inspiring because it managed to describe the whole concept of your novel and it didn’t stick to any of the rules that you can find on the internet, first paragraph this, second paragraph that and so on.

I hope that this can help me write a better query for my novel J

 

Best of Luck !!



#8 dizzywriter

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Posted 08 November 2015 - 11:14 AM

Yay, Phoebe! Congratulations!!!!!
One proof of your writing's power is the fact that I kept coming back to your query even though it's totally outside my usual genre.
Best, best, best to you.




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