Some Query Help

Anybody out there querying? With tons of crazies people busy Nano-ing and agents and publishing houses getting ready for the holiday-season-slow-down, it could be a good time. Maybe. I don't know - just do it when you're ready. ;)

ANYWAY - I (erica) won a contest and got an agent critique on my query letter. I didn't ask permission to post it and can't think of anything else to blog about just got it today, but there are some general pointers I'd like to share.

First - this is my completed ms that I've queried and revised and now sent out a few more queries on. I have lots of different versions and have had fair success on partial requests along with a couple of fulls. You know the whole "query widely" idea that gets lots of talented authors their agents? Yeah, I believe that in theory. In reality, I can do about 3 rejections at a time. Hey, I'm a busy girl. :)

SO - here's what I sent (it wasn't my very latest version, but close). I'll redline some of the (paraphrased) advice I got. Hopefully she doesn't mind if I share her name - the agent who did my critique was Molly Jaffa from Folio Literary and while the following are some of her ideas, the words (even the redlines) are mine. Do with them what you will:

The last thing Kenz Grayson wants to do is switch high schools right before her senior year. Especially if it means going back to the town where she buried her family secrets (along with her father) seven years before. Unfortunately, that's exactly what her mom's making her do. Why oh why is she making her do it? Be more specific, erica! With little hope for the year ahead, she goes, and watches another chapter of her life close behind her. yeah, duh, we already know that. cut this sentence.

Things change when Kenz meets Lincoln James. Even after she's warned that he's a total serial dater, she finds him irresistible. Why? Pretty much every YA romance has an irresistible guy in it. How is mine different? It doesn't take long before they're not only dating, but almost inseparable. Except that's when Kenz starts noticing just how many things are blocking her way to becoming happy again. Then again, with a car accident that almost kills her mom, a sexual abuse allegation against Lincoln, and the truth behind a super-secret surgery in his past--she has a lot to worry about. She didn't like my list. Some of this should maybe go in the beginning as the hook.

Kenz is well known for choosing flight over fight. This isn't evident in the rest of the query, so why bring it up now? I need to explain it better at the beginning before throwing this is there. This time, she's determined to take a stand, even if it's against herself. While I love this line, I'm getting that other people don't know what it means. Be more specific.

A NEW DAY is a YA contemporary romance, complete at 64,000 words. It will appeal to readers who also enjoy books such as The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen and The Book of Luke by Jenny O'Connell. Okay, so this shows where my book would be shelved, but it was pointed out that these books are a few years old and I should bring up some newer ones in my comps. *sigh* *I love these books*

Note: She said that my query could go a long way with some agents simply because it was well-researched. So remember, just like in elementary school - neatness counts. Use paragraphs, vary your sentence lengths, use comparable titles, and personalize it to the agent your sending to. Good luck everyone! And don't get sick from all the candy!!


  1. Awesome you got a critique. I've won a few and see my query is not quite right yet. I agree with Molly's critique. I think that you should focus more on the events in your list in your query as that might make it stand out more. I want to know more about that and her family secrets. Sounds like a great story. Good luck.

  2. I actually think the trickle theory of querying is better. It takes longer, but also, you can be tweaking and getting better all along. If I had gone for the gusto all at once, I don't think I would have gotten my agent because I queried a bad book initially. So there's that. This is a solid query in my opinion (red notes included!)

  3. Thanks for sharing. Very helpful info! Good luck in your querying.

  4. Thank you so much for sharing this with us! It's fantastic whenever we can get an agent's perspective on something. Best of luck, I hope you land an agent with this one!

  5. Hi, Erica, AND Christy,

    I know, it's been ages... It looks terrific. Thanks for sharing the comments. It really helps to pinpoint what needs final tweaking.

    I am off to Florida tomorrow.... Yes, again. I'll be thinking of you both. I am meeting Jen Daiker and PK Hrenzo on this tip... YAY!

  6. Thanks for sharing--I think seeing critiques even if they're not our own, can be helpful! I'm waiting on a query critique--and hoping I will get helpful feedback. Sometimes I feel like I'm trying to solve some complicated puzzle in another language when it comes to querying!!
    Best of luck ::)

  7. Thanks for sharing, erica. I agree that it is very helpful to see query critiques whether they are our own or someone else's. Query writing is HARD! I can't wait for the day I master it and I can move on--just writing, querying and getting published. LOL! :0) christy

  8. Congrats on winning the critique. I hope it helps. Queries are so tough, aren't they? You'd think it would be easy to write about your own book :)

  9. Thanks for sharing, Erica! (Hi - to both of you, btw!!) I keep hearing that specificty is key when querying. And brevity, of course. It's always great to get feedback on what works and what someone would like more of. Good luck with it!

  10. Well, now I know what your WIP is about! Thank you for sharing that :-)

  11. Well, now I know what your WIP is about! Thank you for sharing that :-)

  12. It's great to see what an agent says about queries and where we can improve them. Thanks for sharing! <3


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