Query Letter Example: Narrative Nonfiction

Dear —

Though we didn’t talk, I attended your agent panel at the 2013 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Since then, Ohio University Press has published my first book, THE BOY IS GONE: CONVERSATIONS WITH A MAU MAU GENERAL, and I believe my current project will be of interest to you.

RUNNING WITH RAVEN is the true story of a modern-day Forrest Gump, a legendary streak runner in Miami. It all started in 1975, when Robert “Raven” Kraft, a high school dropout, made a New Years’ Resolution to run eight miles on South Beach every day, without exception. Today—forty years and 117,000 miles later—Raven hasn’t missed one sunset. Thousands of runners have joined him, each earning a nickname and a spot on his esteemed list.

Raven’s path provides a unique window into the history of Miami Beach. The man has run through the ruination and rebirth of a great American city. With a Rain Man-like memory, he recalls every detail and character he met along the way.

Through running, Raven overcame a lonely childhood and a drinking problem, but what has healed him emotionally is now crippling him physically. Most mornings, he can’t even stand up to brush his teeth. So what does a person do when the thing he loves is both killing him and keeping him alive?

Raven is a polarizing figure; some call him determined and inspirational, while others claim he is sick with OCD. RUNNING WITH RAVEN explores themes of how obsessions shape our lives and about finding connection and stability in a changing, weird world. Through a rigid set of behaviors, Raven has found self-definition but hidden within his strength is a fear that if he stops running, he will lose all the benefits he’s attained.

Raven has been featured on ESPN, HBO Real Sports, Univision, and Globo, as well as Runner’s World, the Wall Street Journal, and Fox News. Ranked number eight on the United States Running Streak Association (USRSA) list, Raven has become the poster child for streak running. My manuscript is the first book-length narrative chronicling Raven’s personal journey.

The Raven Run network of 2,300 includes people from every American state and 75 nations—each one would be an ambassador for this work. Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books is another friend and ambassador. I’ve run beside Raven for 1,000 miles and am ranked No. 87 on his all-time runner list. He has given me the nickname White Lightning. In January 2014, I wrote a cover story on Raven for Southwest/AirTran’s inflight magazine.

The manuscript is complete at 90,000 words. May I send it for consideration?

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.

All the best,

Laura Lee Huttenbach