Clash of the Query Letters 2024—2nd place

Congrats to Martha Carscadden for winning second place in the Clash of the Query Letters 2024! Here's what our judge (Michelle Barker) had to say:

"The query letter for the contemporary romance, All's Fair in Love and Acquisitions, did a wonderful job of summarizing the novel's plot as well as capturing the voice in a way that was both humorous and compelling. Strong narrative goals, high stakes, and a considerable obstacle to success create a winning combination for this pitch."

Another great example of a top-notch query letter for a romance novel


Dear Agent,

I am reaching out to you because [reason to query this particular agent] to share All’s Fair in Love and Acquisitions, an 84,000 word slow-burn contemporary romance. It captures the steamy workplace tension of The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and the career-woman-can-have-it-all ethos of Book Lovers by Emily Henry. 

Human Resources Manager Scarlett Beaton’s future has just been blown up. 

When the start-up Scarlett works for is acquired by ruthless tech conglomerate Unitech, her fate lies in the hands of her new boss. Oliver Lee is the handsome, enigmatic son of Unitech’s cutthroat founder. He plans to maximize his investment by firing as many employees as possible, and HR is firmly in his crosshairs. To save everyone’s jobs, including her own, the idealistic but self-doubting Scarlett will need to convince Oliver that people are more than just liabilities on a balance sheet. 

When Oliver names Scarlett his right-hand in making the acquisition profitable, it should be the perfect opportunity to do just that. But Scarlett’s not the only one with something to lose. After two failed acquisitions, this is Oliver’s last chance to prove himself to his father—and things are not looking good. Scarlett suspects that someone is sabotaging the acquisition from the inside. If she can prove it to Oliver, she’ll be able to stop him from decimating the company and save her job. 

But staying focused while being so close to Oliver—with his smouldering glances and surprising sparks of tenderness—is harder than Scarlett thought. Scarlett would never compromise her professionalism by sleeping with her boss. Nope. Never. Definitely not. After all, who could ever respect an HR leader who crosses that fundamental boundary? Giving into temptation would mean losing everything. 

I have worked in HR in the tech industry for over ten years, including being on both sides of an acquisition (neither of which resulted in me sleeping with my boss). I have a BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


Martha Carscadden

Martha Carscadden, author of ALL'S FAIR IN LOVE AND ACQUISITIONS, of which this is a great example of a romance query letter

Martha Carscadden is an aspiring author and professional people and culture executive based in Vancouver, BC. She holds a BA in English Literature from the UBC and a Certificate of Human Resources Management from SFU. She lives in a 120-year-old fixer-upper with her husband and their two young kids, which would be a lot more fixed-up if she didn’t spend so much of her time writing. Martha is currently seeking representation for her debut contemporary romance novel.

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