Michelle Rowen

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Once upon a time…

I think I always wanted to be a writer. This proves it. I was going through some old journals as I declutter my condo and I happened upon this little gem from 1989. I do believe this was a draft of my very first query letter. It is a very good example of WHAT NOT TO DO WHEN QUERYING.



Mr. Editor,

I’m not really sure about the do’s and don’ts of submitting a manuscript. What I have enclosed is the first 4 chapters of my first (yet unfinished) novel. I’d classify it as a teen adventure story for ages 11 and up, I suppose. Also enclosed is an outline (rather proposed outline) of the rest. I figure it will come out to around 50,000 words — about 200 pages.

Let me tell you a bit about myself, okay? I’m eighteen years old, still in high school (gr. 13), looking at either Ryerson or Carleton for post secondary education. If my future as a fiction writer bombs then I’ll head into the field of journalism. For one semester at school I had a co-op at the local paper writing general interest stories and having a weekly column about the high school happenings.

The first two chapters of INSOMNIA were originally a short story written for my English class. My teacher thought I should send them in somewhere but I didn’t know where to send it. One day I just picked it up again and rewrote it leaving an open end for expansion.

Well, I certainly hope you like it. Please let me know either way. I’ve enclosed a SASE.

Thank you very much.

Michelle R.
(aspiring novelist)


Yes, I actually wrote “aspiring novelist” at the bottom. Because THAT MAKES ALL THE DIFFERENCE, PEOPLE. This may come as a shock, but I received a rejection form letter. I’m surprised they even responded at all, frankly. I do remember that they spelled my name wrong. Perhaps they were trying to tell me something.

4 comments to “Once upon a time…”

  1. Tracy
     · June 24th, 2010 at 9:02 pm · Link

    Thanks for posting that, Michelle. lol

    At least you can take comfort in blaming it on only being 18. Some of us have written worse at a more advanced age!

  2. Tori
     · June 25th, 2010 at 7:57 am · Link

    Thanks for sharing the query Michelle! I’m not any where ready to start sending mine, but this is another thing reminding me to make sure I am ready for the process.

    One question though: Have you ever talked about queries that don’t suck? Cause while sucky ones are helpful to a point…I think a lot of us would like to see what a good query looks like. I know what I can’t write about…I just have no idea how to write a good one. Hope that makes sense.

    Anyways, thanks for brightening my day. Oh, and have you read The Hunger Games? Seriously awesome stuff. I read it in one day even with an infant son at home. I am dying to read the second book!

  3. Michelle Rowen
     · June 25th, 2010 at 11:12 am · Link

    Tori… I LOVE the Hunger Games and its sequel. Fabulous. Can’t wait for Mockingjay in August.

    I posted my query for Bitten & Smitten a while back. Perhaps I’ll post it again in my next blog post and list some of the main points which worked, as opposed to everything that didn’t work in this one.

  4. Tori
     · June 25th, 2010 at 11:42 am · Link

    Michelle- Sorry for the random comment about The Hunger Games btw. It’s just I had to tell somebody about it. You just happened to be the first.

    That would be so awesome if you could do that! I read a lot of blogs by authors and I have not yet found any that mentioned what exactly made their queries work. Or really any info about queries in general. The whole subject is a little terrifying for me.

    Thank you for your time. I look forward to that blog post!

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