Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My Successful Query Letter for DON'T EVER GET OLD

As long as I'm sharing writing and publishing advice, I thought I'd show off my successful query letter for DON'T EVER GET OLD.  I sent this out as unsolicited slush, and that's how I found my literary agent, Victoria Skurnick at Levine Greenberg:

Ninety year-old Baruch “Buck” Schatz remembers a time when the only “portable handheld device” anybody needed was a .357, “Google” was the sound a guy made when you punched him in the throat, and “social networking functionality” came out of a bottle.

These days, though, this retired detective is extremely frail and frequently confused.  But when he learns the SS officer who tortured him in a POW camp may have escaped Germany with a fortune in stolen gold, Buck decides to hunt down the fugitive and claim the loot.  He’s got nothing better to do, and keeping his mind occupied is supposed to ward off dementia.

Assisted by his grandson, a law student who knows how to find information using a computer and is allowed to drive at night, Buck finds a lead down the Nazi’s long-cold trail.  But lots of people want a piece of that treasure, and Buck’s investigation quickly attracts unfriendly attention from a Mississippi loan shark, a seven-foot tall Hasidic Jew, a preacher on the take, a cop with a grudge and a bloodthirsty maniac hell-bent on rubbing out everybody who knows anything about Nazi gold.

“Don’t Ever Get Old” is a 76,000 word mystery/thriller about a hard-boiled man in a world gone soft, confronting the existential reality of his inevitable decline and death while trying to get rich quick.


  1. This is an excellent query. I can see why you rose from the slush. I am ordering this bad boy from Amazon asap.

    Would you mind sharing the rest of your stats? How many partial/full requests you had, how many no responses, and how many agent offers you had at the end?

    I was also wondering how you knew your agent was the "right" one. I know the whole mythical perfect agent is a bit of hyperbole, but how did you decide that this was the right person to help you with your writing career?

    1. I had 10 requests out of about 40 queries, but I didn't fully understand which agents are appropriate for which books, so I queried a number of agents who don't rep mysteries.

      I had two offers at the end. When choosing among agents you have to make a decision after personal impression after speaking to them, and also based on what they've sold in the past. Paying $20 for a month's worth of Publishers' Marketplace deal database access isn't the worst idea in the world.

    2. Thanks for sharing!

      What were you looking at specifically in Publishers' Marketplace? What each agent had sold previously?

  2. This is a brilliant query. Thanks for sharing - and I want to read your book!