Query Letters That Worked: THE PRINCESS OF 106 THORNWOOD DRIVE

Great news: Sub It Club member, Khalia Moreau has landed a debut deal with Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing (Hachette)! She has graciously agreed to share her successful query letter for THE PRINCESS OF 106 THORNWOOD DRIVE and her journey to publishing.

Let’s have a look.

Dear Editors of Forever, 

One year ago, a tragic car accident killed 22-year-old Laine’s parents and left her 18-year-old sister, Alyssa, mentally and physically different. Now—instead of studying animal nutrition or competing as one of the few equestrians of color—Laine is struggling with predatory banks, unscrupulous health care organizations, and rude customers at the coffee shop. That’s why when Lake Forest Adult Day Center offers to take care of Alyssa, free of charge, as long as she’s picked up by four, Laine is nothing but ecstatic.

Alyssa isn’t ecstatic, though. After all, in her mind, there was never a car accident. Instead, she and her parents—the king and queen of Mirendal—were attacked one year ago in the forest. Her parents were subsequently kidnapped and she was cursed. And cursed means she must make do with Laine sending her to Lake Forest’s Home for Changels—a temple caring for mortals such as herself. Perhaps there, she could meet other changels who show her how to embrace her new life.

However, there is a dark prince at Lake Forest, one that has taken a peculiar interest in not only Alyssa but her sister as well. And while Laine finds herself grappling in court after a worker is suspected of serious malpractice, Alyssa finds herself fore-fronting a battle that threatens to destroy not only her and her sister but their entire kingdom.

Complete at 93,000 words, THE PRINCESS OF 106 SERCA DRIVE is a female-driven novel told in alternating perspectives. It will appeal to readers of Kerry Wilkinson’s Two Sisters and Gail Carson Levine’s The Two Princesses of Bamarre, as it features female siblings who overcome loss in very different ways, as well as a magical quest.

My two main characters share my culture as a Trinidadian (own voices) and my love for horses. Like Laine, I live with anxiety and have a wonderful therapist. Also, this story came more to life as I considered my cousin who is in a permanent vegetative state. I, as a loved one and a medical student, can only imagine the adventures playing out from within.

Per your submission guidelines, I’ve attached the first three chapters and a synopsis as PDFs.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

And now let’s break it down.

There is no personalization and that goes to show that that isn’t always necessary, especially when submitting to a publisher and not an agent. So, you may not need to struggle with that.

THE HOOK: Khalia does a great job of summarizing the story in three efficient paragraphs. Fantasy is often difficult to condense as it creates a new world. She uses short and clear explanations that don’t bog down the overall description of the story. The conflicts and the stakes are clear.

THE BOOK: Great use of comp titles that demonstrate that the novel is a fantasy with lots of suspense. It has an emotional quest as well as a magical quest.

THE COOK: We learn about Khalia and why she is the perfect person to tell this story. She did her research and knew the publisher was looking for female-driven stories and points that out.

It’s no surprise that the book was scooped up by an editor.

Here’s a little about Khalia’s journey to publication.

Khalia Moreau

It’s been a wild ride and I am actually seeking representation on a Young Adult novel right now, also about siblings but two teenage boys. I had written my YA and THE PRINCESS OF 106 THORNWOOD DRIVE within a month of each other and queried PRINCESS first. I had some requests for fulls that was the first time I had more than one request on a story. However, I kept getting rejections. A few people told me it really wasn’t me, it was them and to keep querying. Some provided form rejections. It was heart-breaking, really. So, I shelved the story and poured all of my focus into my YA novel, which was getting much more traction. Eventually, I ended up pausing my YA to revise (there were some issues brought to light). Medical school was also in full swing, and finding time to write was super hard. Believe it or not, I was procrastinating studying for my surgery shelf when I came back to this novel, maybe seeking comfort? I read a few random chapters of it and fell in love all over again. So, I decided instead of doing a complete overhaul ( as I had planned to do once I finished with my YA novel) I’d just bypass agents and query a few editors. I knew Grand Central Publishing’s Forever Imprint was a long shot, but they were accepting unsolicited queries from BIPOCC authors and they really wanted female-driven stories. So, I decided to send a query but reminded myself not to hold my breath. Crazy because one week later, I had a full request. A week after that, an offer! 

When speaking to my editor, it felt like everything clicked. She loved the story and our visions on what needed work and improvements aligned. She was also even kind enough to refer me to some agents, if that’s what I wanted.  In the end, I signed without an agent, just because I had put my YA novel on pause and planned to resubmit revisions to agents I would love to work with.

So, as you can see, it’s been a long journey but it’s still ongoing. Next step will hopefully be to get an agent! 🙂 

The path to publication isn’t a straight line or a formula. Thanks so much to Khalia for sharing her query letter and her journey up to now. Sub It Club has fingers crossed on finding an agent!

For more information about basic query letter format, see Heather’s post here.

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