Optimism is NOT Arrogance

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Query Letter #5 - Fifth Time's The Charm!

Here's the winner...short, lots of open white space, to the point, and STILL very polite!


Thirteen year-olds Jeff Williams and Ben Styler are in a world of trouble, ever since finding that stupid watch in Jeff's attic.  The watch doesn't tell time – it moves it.  And Jeff and Ben are in a world of trouble because Professor Ferguson has stolen it.
Ferguson is a member of the Knights Tempus (the Knights Templar was just a ruse), guardians of the greatest secret humans have ever known, the real Holy Grail of power, fortune and immortality:  the secret to time travel.  Ferguson, however, abuses his privileges and strives to end the great American experiment and bring order to the world.
When Ferguson changes the past, he alters the boy’s present.  In the blink of an eye the United States of 2009 becomes the Colonies of North America, a part of the global British Empire.  Thanks to the alteration of the past and the “advancement” of history, there is no order to the world, and the new present is far worse than the one before.
Like Holmes and Watson, Jeff and Ben must deduce from what they know of history and identify what Ferguson has changed - no small feat considering all of the history books have changed. However they must find the watch, go back in time, and correct Ferguson’s actions before the new 2009 becomes a permanent reality.
At just over 45,000 words, THE TIMEPIECE CHRONICLES specifically targets the middle-grade boy demographic.   It is told in dual first person narrative, with both Ben and Jeff recounting the story in a conversational format.
Per your submissions guidelines, I have submitted the first 10 pages for your review.  Thank you for your consideration, and regardless of the outcome I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Notice the key elements - heros, bad guys, sticky situation, word length (probably still didn't need to say it was written in dual first person narrative, but I didn't want to surprise them).  Responses below:


FinePrint Agency:  Thank you for your query. I'm afraid that your book isn't right for me at this time and I'm going to pass. Please keep in mind, however, that the publishing business is a subjective one and this is only one agent's opinion. There may very well be another agent out there for whom your work would be a better fit.

Due to the sheer volume of queries I receive, I regret that I am unable to give a personalized reply or any additional feedback on your query.

(6 day turnaround)


Howard Morhaim Literary Agency


Liza Dawson Associates: Can I see 50 pages and a plot synopsis as attached word or pdf files please?

(5 day turnaround)

(5 days later...)
Dear Mr. Sheridan,

I'm enjoying this.  Can I see the full manuscript as an attached document please?

Also, I usually ask for a three week exclusive on first novels.  Is that okay with you?



(15 days later and no fingernails remaining...)
Ms. Blasdell,

Just checking in, as the suspense is killing me.  Please forgive any breach of protocol!  I have received another request for a partial manuscript, but told them you had exclusive rights to it for now.

Hope all is well with you, and hope you have a great weekend.  Thanks!


(8 days later...still no word from Caitlin.  Now toenails are gone...)

Dear Caitlin

I had another agent request a full manuscript but again wanted to be mindful of our agreement for the three weeks exclusivity.  I believe I sent you the manuscript on February 11, so the three weeks should be passed by now.   Is it ok to send him the manuscript or do you need more time?  If you've made a decision one way or another I would love to know so I can press on.  Thanks so much for your consideration!


(2 days after that...getting ready to jettison this relationship when suddenly...)
Dear Kevin,

Thank you for checking in.  I've been running behind--we had a tree fall on our driveway during the snow storm last weekend and lost power in my home office for three days.

I'd love to talk to you about THE TIMEPIECE CHRONICLES.  Are you free on Monday?  I could talk anytime from 11:30 to 2:00 (New York time).

Technically you are free to send the manuscript to the other agents but I hope you can wait until after we talk on Monday.



KT Literary
Dear Mr. Sheridan,
Many thanks for your email regarding your novel THE TIMEPIECE CHRONICLES, which I am declining with my regrets.
Given the demands of running a boutique agency and continuing to best represent my current clients, I must make difficult decisions every day regarding what new projects I can sign. I appreciate your thinking of me, and wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.
Kate Schafer Testerman

(11 day turnaround)


Wolf Literary
Thank you for your submission to Wolf Literary.

I'm afraid your work is not the right fit for us at this time, and we encourage you to continue editing and querying other agencies.

Thanks again,

Wolf Literary Services, LLC

(14 day turnaround.  Weird font too.  Almost computer-like, as if they have some automated robot reading these)


Robert Astle and Associates

Dear Kevin,
We are interested in your manuscript, The Timepiece Chronicles.  Would you please send a sample of the first (approx.) 50 pages, to the best stopping point, to this email for our consideration?

That's four - count 'em FOUR AGENCIES wanting to read more!  All at the same time!

Catch me, Winthorp, I think I may just faint!
 (32 days turnaround, by the way)


Josh Getzler at Russell & Volkening
March 4, 2010
Dear Kevin,
Thank you for thinking of us for your query regarding The Timepiece Chronicles. I would like to consider your project, if it is still available. If it is, please email me with a word attachment of the full manuscript. Please name the Word document "SheridanFull.doc" and mark the email "Requested Material". Our response time is approximately 8 weeks (I hope!). I'll be in touch as soon as possible and do look forward to reading your work.
Josh Getzler

(28 days turnaround time.  Or if you're a fan of horror films...28 days later...)


Dystel & Goderich Literary Management:
Dear Author:

Thanks so much for letting me take a look at your materials and please forgive me for responding with a form letter.  The volume of submissions I receive, however, makes it impossible to correspond with everyone personally.

Unfortunately, the project you describe does not suit my list at this time.  I wish you the best of luck in finding an agent and publisher for your work and I thank you, once again, for letting me consider your materials.

Michael Bourret


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