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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Query Critique Month: A YA Novel Query

Hi readers! Query Critique Month continues. Did you see the first query, on "Second Act" parenting

Next up is a query for a YA (young adult) novel in search of an agent. Once again, my comments are in green:  

Dear Ms. [Last Name],

You can’t fight against something you can’t remember. [Not sure about this first line...I feel like something more compelling here, or maybe another line to explain what you mean.]

At least that was the Company’s logic as they wiped sixteen year old Charlie Dylan of all but his worst human memories. As punishment for his parents’ mistakes, the most feared organize crime group in the magical community stole his magic, ensured he was friendless, and replaced his parents with callous look-alikes so he never knew about birthright as their leader. However, when a wish causes the enchantments to come undone, he is on the path to put them away before they return for his memories or worse. [This sounds like a fantasy or sci fi book, or maybe a combination of both. With a created world, though, I'd like to know a little more about it--is the book set in the future, for example, or in another world? If you're describing a novel set in 19th century Ireland, say so. If it's a contemporary novel set in Chicago, say so. Place/setting matters and I'd like to know more about the setting of the novel here.]

What he couldn’t prevent was falling in love with Abigail Shaw. From the moment he accepted magic they became physically bound, forcing her along for the ride as they uncover that the very wish making changes to his life has nested itself in Abigail. With forces to take down the wish coming at them from all sides, he will do anything to keep her safe even if that means facing off the most dangerous people he has ever come across; his real parents. [Again, tell me what "accepted magic" means, and how the the wish has "nested" in Abigail. And I'd be a little more specific about Abigail--how old is she? Why is she so compelling? What forces are coming after him? I feel like I only have a part of the story here and would like to know more.]

Renegade Wish is magic and love meets The Bourne Identity. I read in an interview that you have a special affinity for young adult books, and I thought you might be interested in my 98k novel. Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. Upon your request, I am prepared to send my completed manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you. [I like the "log line" ("magic and love meets The Bourne Identity--but put the latter in italics] but more detail above will support it. Instead of saying, "I read in an interview," I'd simply say, "I know you have a special affinity..." Including the word count is good but I would also include the genre (see second paragraph); YA encompasses just about everything these days. Also, who are you as the writer? Tell the agent a little bit about your writing background, your social media/platform, any awards, etc. Make the best case you can not only for your book but for you as an author as well.]

Overall, I feel like this is a good first draft but that it needs more detail--maybe another full paragraph telling more about the setting and the specific conflicts Charlie faces/storyline, for example. And def at least a few lines about the writer's background, etc. 

If you're pitching a novel, here's an example of a novel query that worked. And if you write YA, you'll want to see this YA query

**Readers, what do you think? Do you agree with my analysis? Let me know, and stay tuned for more critiques. :) In the meantime, if you're serious about freelancing, check out my new book from Writer's Digest, Writer for Hire: 101 Secrets to Freelance Success. 

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