For this edition of Queries That Work, I thought I would share the query I wrote for THE FUNERAL SINGER. I’ve talked a bit about my path to publication on this blog, but I haven’t yet shared the “pitch” I made for the book.
I wrote a few versions of my query–all somewhat similar–but the one I’m going to share is the one I wrote for an online contest called Pitch Wars. The point of that query was not to woo an agent or publisher, but to convince one of the contest’s mentors that they would want to work with me and my manuscript.
There are a couple of reasons I picked this query to share. First, it contains the fewest spoilers. Second, it was successful in attracting the interest of not just one, but all three of the potential mentors I “queried.” And third, it ultimately succeeded in hooking one of the mentors–Erica Chapman, whose mentorship proved critical in improving the book–and led to my connection with my agent, Andrea Somberg.
QUERY: The Funeral Singer by Linda Budzinski (Swoon Romance YA, 2013)
Singing part-time at her father’s funeral home, seventeen-year-old Melanie Martin has witnessed her share of lame eulogies and uninspired epitaphs. She knows one thing for sure: She’s going to make her mark on the world. She’ll be remembered as more than someone’s “loving mother” or “devoted wife.”
When Mel’s impromptu rendition of “Amazing Grace” at a local rock star’s graveside service goes viral on YouTube, she realizes her aspirations, and then some. Overnight she’s transformed from the Freaky Funeral Girl into an Internet phenom.
In her rise to celebrity, Mel turns her back on the things that once mattered most to her — chorus, family, even one of her best friends. But fame can be a fleeting fantasy, and when Mel makes a very public (and of course videotaped) fool of herself at her high school prom, she discovers that creating splashy headlines as the pop star du jour is not at all the same as creating real, lasting memories.
Mixing humor, romance and a slight dash of the macabre, my 53,000-word contemporary YA novel THE FUNERAL SINGER takes AUDREY, WAIT! and drops it onto the set of SIX FEET UNDER.
I have worked for nearly twenty-five years in non-profit communications and marketing, including eighteen years at the International Cemetery, Cremation and Funeral Association — an experience I’ve drawn upon to add realistic detail to the novel’s setting.
In writing this manuscript, I worked closely with former Dial editor Alisha Niehaus Berger, who called the story “commercial with a good heart and some serious core messages.” My queries to date have resulted in many “positive rejections,” and so I am excited about the possibility of working with you to take the manuscript from “almost there” to “yes, please.”
Thank you for your consideration.
Linda Acorn Budzinski
I lucked out with this query in that Erica loves rock bands, AUDREY, WAIT! and Six Feet Under. What a perfect match! And the rest, as they say, was history….