Query Letter Critique

Original Query Letter

 

Dear Agent:

 

Seventeen-year-old Sadie knows her sister is dead.

 

Her mama sees the silver lining on the letter reading “missing in action”, but Sadie knows the truth: Skylar isn’t coming back.

 

They say everyone deals with grief in their own way: Mama finds comfort in her Prayer Circle and their belief that Skylar’s going to come home, her little sister reverts to her old habit of bedwetting, unable to handle Skylar’s death, while Sadie runs to the only person more broken than she is: Skylar’s boyfriend, Colton. Nighttime hook-ups in the barn hurt less than Skylar’s empty bedroom, but they hurt nonetheless.

 

Sadie slowly begins to piece her life back together with the help of her best friends and her friendly co-worker, Jesse. But then Sadie’s world explodes again.

 

Skylar surprises her family returns during the Fourth of July parade and they reunite for all their small town to see. What everyone doesn’t see are the desperate kisses in haylofts and postcards talking about unborn babies and apologies. What Skylar doesn’t see are Sadie’s burnt college applications and Colton’s drinking problems. She doesn’t see that Sadie trying so hard to hold everyone else together that she’s falling apart herself.

 

And when she does, it might be too late.

 

PROMISES TO KEEP, my YA contemporary novel, is complete at XX words. It will appeal to fans of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson and AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield. Previously, I was an intern for XX at the XX agency for a year and am currently (Redacted’s) intern at (Redacted publishing house). I regularly attend Book Expo America, the American Library Association and volunteer annually at the Boston Book Festival. In addition, I run a monthly Boston writers/agents meet-up.

 

Sincerely,

XX

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

Dear Agent: Obviously we know to put the agent’s name here, right?

 

Seventeen-year-old Sadie knows her sister is dead.

 

Her mama sees the silver lining on the letter reading “missing in action” letter, but Sadie knows the truth: Skylar isn’t coming back. Like this opening!

 

They say everyone deals with grief in their own way: Mama finds comfort in her Prayer Circle and their belief that Skylar’s going to come coming home, I would do a full stop here her little sister reverts to her old habit of bedwetting, unable to handle Skylar’s death It’s obvious why she’s bedwetting without explaining it. Also your query runs on the run long side at over 300 words, so you could stand to snip any unnecessary words like these ones. As the old saying goes, don’t say with two words what you can with one! while Sadie runs to the only person more broken than she is: Skylar’s boyfriend, Colton. Nighttime hook-ups in the barn hurt less than Skylar’s empty bedroom, but they hurt nonetheless. Ooooh! Intriguing!

 

Sadie slowly begins to piece her life back together with the help of her best friends and her friendly co-worker, Jesse. But then Sadie’s her world explodes again.

 

Skylar surprises her family returns home during the Fourth of July parade and they reunite for all of their small town to see. What everyone doesn’t see are the desperate kisses in haylofts and postcards talking about unborn babies and apologies. <This part really confused me. What Skylar doesn’t see are Sadie’s burnt college applications and Colton’s drinking problems. She doesn’t see that Sadie’s trying so hard to hold everyone else together that she’s falling apart herself. Really like this paragraph! Strong set-up.

 

And when she does, it might be too late. While I love this query, I think I would have liked to see a bit more made of the wonderful set-up you’ve laid out with the sister’s boyfriend. Does Skylar reclaim her boyfriend now that she’s back? Was Sadie in love with him? While everyone else is happy, is Sadie conflicted about her sister’s return—does she know she should be happy but feel like she’s had her life ripped from her again after she’d finally learned to heal?

 

As a bit of an aside, I found myself tripping over the names Skylar and Sadie a few times in the query. They’re so similar that I had to double check which sister you were referring to.

 

PROMISES TO KEEP, my YA contemporary novel, is complete at XX words. It will appeal to fans of SOMETHING LIKE NORMAL by Trish Doller, THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson and AMELIA ANNE IS DEAD AND GONE by Kat Rosenfield. Previously, I was an intern for XX at the XX agency for a year and am currently (Redacted’s) intern at (Redacted publishing house). I regularly attend Book Expo America, the American Library Association and volunteer annually at the Boston Book Festival. In addition, I run a monthly Boston writers/agents meet-up.  Great bio! All good here.

 

Sincerely,

XX

 

Amazing premise. With a bit of cleaning up I have a feeling this query will have no problem at all racking up the full requests. Thanks for sharing, and good luck!  

Posted in query critique, query letter, writing advice

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