Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Q is for Query

And for Queen
I'm sorry, but I have to go with the majority of A-Z bloggers on this one and call out 'query.' I was going to go with Qwerty and learning to type, but the horror-show that is a query has been on my mind lately.

I don't think I'm ready to formally query BookEnd - for one I'm halfway through first revisions, for another I haven't actually written the end. This can also be stated another way "I haven't finished the book yet." But I feel that's just negative talk, too much of a downer. Also, I'm coming to terms with having written a YA book without really intending to. I didn't sit down and say, "Time to write a young adult book." It was more like, "What if this boy lived on a farm where the cattle were really people?" So now I'm educating myself on agents that deal in YA and I'm not done with my learning yet.

Having said all that, I'm going to the Pennwriters' Conference on May 13 and have signed up to have my query letter, pitch and synopsis reviewed and commented on by agent Barbara Poelle of the Irene Goodman Agency. I've already sent my goods to her and now I'm rethinking everything I sent.

So in the spirit of further evisceration, I'm including the query letter below for your delectation. Go on, rip it to shreds, I mean comment on it's strengths and weaknesses as it befits a nurturing, mannerly group of writing individuals. I'd love to hear what you think. For reals. Before we get to that here are some links to query-writing resources:

Query Shark
Pub Rants
Nathan Bransford
Pimp My Novel also has an interesting (non agent) take on queries
Writer's Digest

OK. Here's my query:

Dear Ms. Poelle,
I am seeking representation for my Young Adult novel, BOOKEND, complete at 75,000 words. I am enclosing a synopsis and sample pages. The sequel, BOOKBEGIN, is currently in outline form.
Finial Smith lives in a world  where discarded book characters, called QRs (Quasi-Reals), come to be recycled or pressed into servitude. The Smiths are the last natural-born family living in a village of QRs. The Farm is renowned for the fine quality of Qr workers they produce. But being the only real boy for miles is getting on this fifteen year old’s nerves. Fin’s missing his dead mother, bored at school and tired of hearing his Da tell him about Nobless Oblige – the duty all natural-borns have to care and defend the dependent and weaker QR creatures.

When Fin meets Anne, a QR who breaks away from the herd, he finds a girl who is more alive and real than anyone he's ever met. A revolution is brewing in BookEnd with QRs determined to fight for the same rights as natural-borns. Fin has to decide whether to stand with his family and let Anne be destroyed, or to endanger the world he knows to save her.  Knowing Anne will forever change how Fin sees his world and teach him what it means to be real. 

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.


  1. Each of the plot points: He's frustrated with his life; he meets this girl and is attracted to her; the QR's rebel; he has to make a choice - need to be demonstrated through behaviour of the characters rather than you just telling us it is so.

    If I have two characters fall in love in an original and touching way in my story and I describe it as 'in this story two characters fall in love' I'm not really selling my great scene (whatever it might be).

    If a writer wants a scene where two characters fall in love but can't think of an original way to do it but thinks he'll be able to later and for now says 'in this story two characters fall in love' he has made the same claim as the first guy, but he has no such scene.

    When the agent reads that line from those two separate writers, how will he know which is the guy with the cool scene?

    That's why you have to put the cool stuff in the pitch. If you don't it will be assumed it's because you don't have it.

    hope that makes sense,
    Moody Writing

  2. I can't wait for the conference! Still a bit apprehensive having never gone to one, but I like to jump into things without looking; it's part of my charm. I think it's a great idea to get feedback from an agent on your query. If for nothing else, it might turn up the fire under your ass to finish the novel.

    I know how it feels to send something off you aren't 100% behind, but the feedback will only make your query stronger and help you better pitch your fantastic YA novel. Keep in mind you can't be perfect the first time, but with practice and excellent feedback, like mood's, you will be stellar when it's time to really get Bookend an agent! Go Team!

  3. This is so nit-picky, sorry - pretty sure it's spelled "noblesse oblige."

  4. (It sounds like an awesome story, though. :))

  5. Your story sounds unique, and interesting! Also, the sites you listed are very helpful. I visit them nearly every day.

  6. -Mooderino, thanks for the feedback - I just have to digest it and then it will surely make sense!
    -Laura, me too, can't wait!
    -Ru - not nit-picky, accurate, which is so why I'm not ready for prime time, thanks for catching that!
    -NiaRaie, thanks for visiting and commenting. I appreciate the feedback!

  7. I liked the sound of your story, and the query seemed well written. Your links are the same sites that I've been looking at for query information. I think queries are frightening, so much more difficult than writing the actual story. Good luck at the conference!

  8. Hey Kendal
    I agree, the query is deadly - but not as deadly as the synopsis! Had to write one of those for the conference too. I nearly cried and there's a small but discernible bald patch behind my left ear where I pulled out my hair. One thing writing a synopsis taught me, though - I should write that sucker before I write the book. Yes, I am a convert to outlining. How's your query writing going?


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