Monday, November 5, 2007

Monday Mania: Query Letter

One of our readers submitted her query letter. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive 0010:

The Carrot Skin Factor
(YA novel—approx. 53,000 words)

Tomorrow night, Yankee Stadium will be attacked by a group of rebels known as the Gaddi-Anons. Can four teens and a whacky inventor discover the meaning of ‘Crying the Neck’ in time to save thousands from disaster?

Fifteen-year old Zack’s life sucks. His divorced parents have no time for him. Following a creepy midnight encounter, Zack and his three friends find a mysterious gadget called DINGO (Delivers Information, Navigates, Goes Overseas) belonging to a British inventor and secret agent, Hunter MacMurray. It's weird the things DINGO can do and foresee using holograms, known as Dingograms. One snag—the operator must be crazy about carrots.

A mysterious clue (Crying the Neck) takes the four from Connecticut , USA , to Cornwall , England , transporting by DINGO. Will Zack's fears let everyone down? Is Libby’s faith the waste of time Zack thinks it is? Suspense builds to a surprise ending—not only do they win the fight, but it turns out Hunter is Zack’s mom’s lost brother.

I decided to contact you after researching many literary agents as you have found homes for exciting YA books in the past. Enclosed is a synopsis. I have completed the entire manuscript—a fast paced suspense with mystery and science fiction for readers age twelve to seventeen.

As for my qualifications, I have three published books, one of which is short stories for Young Adults; and over seventeen years of published magazine articles and fiction for both youth and adult readers.

Thank you for your time. If I am a writer you can represent, please may I send the full manuscript? I enclose an SASE for your response.

Sincerely,

3 comments:

Josi said...

After the sentence--the operator must be crazy about carrots, that's where you should mention the title, genre, market, and word count.

toward the end of the book summary you mention 'libby' but we don't know who she is, also the sentance that starts "It's weird..." is a bit awkward, so perhaps change the wording.

I'd also leave the father bit out, I don't think it's necessary and seems to take away the intensity, the description doesn't need to tell the whole story, just hook them so they read the synopsis.

Other than that, it sounds really good--it's well written and stays keeps punchy throughout.

Good luck!

Heather B. Moore said...

I have my comments in brackets and CAPS.

The Carrot Skin Factor
[THE TITLE, THE GENRE AND WORD COUNT SHOULD BE IN SENTENCE FORM](YA novel—approx. 53,000 words)

Tomorrow night, Yankee Stadium will be attacked by a group of rebels known as the Gaddi-Anons. Can four teens and a whacky inventor discover the meaning of ‘Crying the Neck’ in time to save thousands from disaster? [THIS IS A GOOD INTRO SENTENCE]

Fifteen-year old Zack’s life sucks. [I FEEL LIKE THIS CAME OUT OF NOWHERE. IT NEEDS A TRANSITION SO WE KNOW HOW IT RELATES TO THE PREVIOUS CHARACTER. MAYBE: ONE OF THE TEENS, ZACK LAST NAME, FINDS A MYSTERIOUS GADGET . . .I DON'T THINK WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT HIS DIVORCED PARENTS AT THIS POINT]His divorced parents have no time for him. Following a creepy midnight encounter, Zack and his three friends find a mysterious gadget called DINGO (Delivers Information, Navigates, Goes Overseas) belonging to a British inventor and secret agent, Hunter MacMurray. [TAKE OUT "IT'S WEIRD" --JUST START THE SENTENCE WITH: THE DINGO FORESEES . . . TELL US WHAT IT FORESEES, NOT HOW IT DOES IT IN A QUERY] It's weird the things DINGO can do and foresee using holograms, known as Dingograms. One snag—the operator must be crazy about carrots.

A mysterious clue (Crying the Neck) takes the four from Connecticut , USA , to Cornwall , England , transporting by DINGO. Will Zack's fears let everyone down? Is Libby’s faith the waste of time Zack thinks it is? Suspense builds to a surprise ending—not only do they win the fight, but it turns out Hunter is Zack’s mom’s lost brother. [IN A QUERY, YOU SHOULD KEEP THE BRIEF SUMMARY TO ONLY ONE PARAGRAPH. YOU DON'T NEED TO GIVE AWAY THE ENDING, SAVE IT FOR THE SYNOPSIS]

I decided to contact you after researching many literary agents as you have found homes for exciting YA books in the past. [TRANSPOSE THE PREVIOUS SENTENCE FOR CLARITY, AND BE SPECIFIC. I READ WITH INTEREST ABOUT THE PLACEMENT OF YOUR YA NOVELS, WHAT AND WHAT.] Enclosed is a synopsis. [MAKE THIS A FULLER SENTENCE: ENCLOSED IS THE SYNOPSIS FOR YOUR REVIEW] I have completed the entire manuscript—a fast paced suspense with mystery and science fiction for readers age twelve to seventeen. [THIS INFO SHOULD BE COMBINED WITH THE TITLE AND WORD COUNT]

As for my qualifications, I have three published books, one of which is short stories for Young Adults; and over seventeen years of published magazine articles and fiction for both youth and adult readers.

Thank you for your time. If I am a writer you can represent, please may I send the full manuscript? I [HAVE ENCLOSED A] enclose an SASE for your response.

Sincerely,

Anonymous said...

Great product, great pitch, but...
You only get three paragraphs. First is the basics, Completed YA of so many words.

Second is also the basics--of your main character. Make a list of all the bits of info you need to tell his starting point, what changes him(conflict and challenges), and where he lands. Also include the marketing twist, the robot, what his name stands for and the carrot thing... This IS the best way to end your blurb. This is memorable. In the previous 3 sentences you have proven your knowledge of the three acts of telling a satisfying story. Now you prove your originality.
Leave out other characters. You can tell their story in the synopsis. Remember BLURB. On the back of a romance, the hero gets a paragraph and the heroinne gets another. You don't get two if you only have one protagonist.


Last paragraph. Your info. Not "My info is THIS" Just "THIS".
Clean out all life draining words. Be sharp. Be strong. don't say "I chose you because". Say Considering your history of... you may recognize this marketable project.

Be respectful. Be more professional in this than any other letter you have ever written. Be STRONG, and you will definitly get a request for more.