Associate Editor Shana Asaro (formerly Shana Smith) knows how to spot talent! For today’s SOLD! blog, she’s sharing a query letter from Harlequin Desire author Andrea Laurence that caught her attention. Here’s the story how this editor/author pair went from a not-quite-right potential project to having contracted more than seventeen titles in under two years!
This initial query from Andrea Laurence was for a project that I ended up passing on at the time, but it led to the submission of another manuscript that I did buy and that became her Harlequin Desire debut, What Lies Beneath. However, after a change in the target line and a few rounds of revisions, I did later acquire this manuscript, and it will be released by Harlequin Desire in February 2014 as Back in Her Husband’s Bed.
There were a number of things that caught my attention about this letter. First, the content is pretty much textbook perfect. She delivers all the necessary information—the title, targeted line, word count and a brief story description as well as her contact information (though it has been removed here for privacy). Andrea also provides pertinent personal information—her writing history and involvement in writing organizations as well as how many manuscripts she’s completed. This paragraph shows that she’s serious about writing and is likely someone we could count on to continue writing if we were to buy the manuscript.
As for the story description itself, I’m a fan of reunion romances, so that immediately drew me in. I loved the idea of the heroine starting out wanting a divorce. It’s a great source of conflict right from the beginning for these characters. Las Vegas is also a fun hook, and a professional poker playing heroine was different and unique. Andrea also shows that there are high stakes here for the heroine—protecting her sister and her own reputation—and hints at the happy ending that we all know comes with every romance novel. As the best queries do, it left me wanting to know more about these characters and their story.
Though I don’t have the exact query letter, below is the 2010 letter that arrived with the complete manuscript. It captures all the relevant information from the query. I do think it shows exactly what made me so enthusiastic to work with this author and why we’re all excited to continue!
Dear Ms. Smith:
I’m pleased to include the requested manuscript for CALLING HER BLUFF. Thank you for taking the time to review it. I have included a brief description here, in addition to the manuscript and synopsis.
Professional poker player Annie Barracas went against her better judgment and gave into a whirlwind romance with casino owner Nathan Reed. They eloped within days of meeting and then she panicked, disappearing just as suddenly. In CALLING HER BLUFF, a 56,690 word romance for Silhouette Romantic Suspense, Annie must return to Nate’s casino for a tournament and bend to his will to get what she wants – a divorce. Instead, she finds herself back in her husband’s bed and ensnared in a dangerous cheating ring Nate is determined to break up. In the end, can Annie protect her sister, her reputation and find a happy ending with a life – and a husband – she never dreamed she’d want?
I am a previously unpublished author although I have been involved in the writing community since 2003. CALLING HER BLUFF is one of eleven manuscripts I have completed and the second I have targeted to Romantic Suspense. I have a great love for the romance genre. My personal writing style is focused on likeable characters the reader can identify with and a fresh and upbeat twist that makes my voice unique. I am a RWA PRO member, founding member of the Writing Playground and a board member and website designer for my local chapter, Heart of Dixie. I regularly attend workshops and classes to improve my craft and look forward to developing a relationship with a publishing house that can assist me in achieving my career goals.
I hope you enjoy my writing. Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I look forward to hearing from you and perhaps seeing you at RWA Nationals next month. Please shred this submission if you no longer require it.
Thank you again,
Thank you to Shana and Andrea for letting us see just how to catch an editor’s attention! And it shows that editors can be willing to redirect authors to another line and continue to develop the relationship. You can follow Shana at @Shana_Asaro (formerly @Shana_Smith) on Twitter, and Andrea can be found on her website, or on Twitter at @Andrea_Laurence