Not only is Lisa Brackmann’s debut novel Rock Paper Tiger to die for, but when she originally contacted me she wrote one of the best query letters I ever received when I was a literary agent. (Frequent readers might also know Lisa as blog commenter Other Lisa).
Rock Paper Tiger went on to be published by Soho Press and was named one of Amazon’s best books of the year. It all started with her query!
Here’s Lisa’s most excellent query letter:
Dear Mr. Bransford,
The Beijing ’08 Olympics are over, the war in Iraq is lost, and former National Guard medic Ellie McEnroe is stuck in China, trying to lose herself in the alien worlds of performance artists and online gamers. When a chance encounter with a Chinese Muslim dissident drops her down a rabbit hole of conspiracies, Ellie must decide who to trust among the artists, dealers, collectors and operatives claiming to be on her side – in particular, a mysterious organization operating within a popular online game.
ROCK PAPER TIGER is a fast-paced, 108,000 word mainstream novel set in a China where the ultra-modern and cutting-edge clash with ancient neighborhoods and traditions, and in an America where the consequences of war reverberate long after the troops have come home. It will appeal to fans of William Gibson’s books with contemporary settings, Laura Lippman’s strong female protagonists, and almost anybody’s whacked-out travelogues about the world’s more surreal places.
I have a background in politics, Chinese history and the entertainment industry. I am working on a pop biography of Zhou Enlai for a small press and with a partner wrote a feature screenplay based on a series of Taiwanese fantasy novels, THE IMMORTALS, which was optioned by ActionGate Films. I was also a contributing editor for TWILIGHT OF EMPIRE: RESPONSES TO OCCUPATION, a collection of essays about the American occupation of Iraq (Perceval Press, 2004). I lived in China, travel there often and speak decent, if not quite fluent, Mandarin.
I’m querying you because you like novels set in foreign countries.
Also, I hate the Lakers.
This query is just stellar. It’s well-written, it has a nice balance between key details (alien worlds of performance artists and gamers), plot (chance encounter drops her into a rabbit hole of conspiracies), personalization (knows my taste), and most importantly of all, she hates the Lakers.
I had to restrain myself from immediately offering representation. I waited on the novel though, which was amazing.
For more tips on how to write a great query letter, check out these posts:
- How to write a query letter
- My query letter for Jacob Wonderbar
- Emily Conrad’s query for The Boy in the Basement
Need help with your book? I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and coaching!
For my best advice, check out my guide to writing a novel (now available in audio) and my guide to publishing a book.
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