Leah Pierre and the Query
by Julia Neily
Leah Pierre is a literary agent. She presented at the League of Vermont Writers “Writers Meet Agents” conference on August 13, 2022.
I got to pitch to Leah earlier in the day. She was delightful. First, we chatted about Houston, where she lives. I told her how I’d been to Houston once for a conference at the Veterans Hospital. I was amazed at how big the VA and the surrounding hospitals were.
During her presentation, Leah gave a recipe for how to write a query letter.
The quick pitch: This is about 1-2 sentences describing your book.
The short synopsis: This should be less than 250 words. Tell about your book in greater depth in this section.
The details: What is your genre? What is your word count? What is your readership?
Author Bio: Why are you an interesting person? What are some fun details about you?
There was also a lot of discussion about how to market yourself and your book. Maybe be a guest on a podcast, find ways you can be talked about, or promote yourself on TikTok or other social media. Some participants shared that they want to write, but don’t want to do TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
When I met with Leah, she was very warm and open. I told her about my manuscript. I read most of my query letter, which is not the thing to do. But I stopped and talked to her along the way.
She helped me see that, maybe if I address the aspect of being a caregiver, that might appeal to more readers. She shared that she was thinking about how someday she might have to take care of her parents.
During the conference, I went outside to get fresh air. Who were all these people running by? They seemed very serious. Maybe this was a popular running route. Then I saw someone I knew and he wore a race bib. They were running the Vermont 100. I think it is 100 miles on route 100. I love to run. They split it up and maybe 10 people run 10 miles for each team. No one asked me to run it. I would like to do that.
Maybe I’ll go home and just bake bread and watch Netflix. Maybe I’ll break my manuscript into one book about autism and one about dementia. Katherine asked what the arc of my story was. Why would someone want to pick up my book as opposed to all the other books about autism or dementia on the shelf? Is it because I am a nurse as an author? Is it because I grew up in craziness? I feel all over the place, and yet I love writing and don’t want to give up.
Leah was warm, inviting, and interested. She doesn’t represent my genre of memoir, but she was helpful. I felt like I could have coffee with her and have a good time.
Julia Neily is a mother of three children, one with autism. She is a retired nurse who is now a homemaker. She is focused on raising her two teenage daughters and enjoying her adult daughter and grandchild. She lives with her husband and youngest daughters in Lebanon NH.