After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

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Katiemouse
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After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

Post by Katiemouse » February 4th, 2013, 10:30 pm

Hi All! I'm new here and promise to give some feedback on other queries. Below is my first attempt at a query for my YA novel After The Closing: The Voice. Any feedback would be appreciated. Don't be afraid to be harsh! Thanks :)

Date


Agents Name
Agent Address

Dear Ms. Name

(Insert Personal Tidbit)
My completed 71,000 word young adult fantasy novel, After the Closing: The Voice, is about a young girl’s search for belonging and her fight for what she knows is right. It contains many themes relevant to young people – such as friendship, loyalty and tolerance. It is the first in a projected series of three books based on the fantasy land of Avarid.
Outcast and struggling to make a friend at her strict high school, Layla Roberts is an unhappy teenager. She does however, have one constant companion – the voice inside her head. Lately the voice, Sam, has become increasingly demanding on Layla’s time. Layla, overwhelmed by her changed relationship with Sam and determined she is ready to grow out of her ‘imaginary friend’, finds a way to banish him. Then, guilty and alone, Layla discovers that perhaps Sam isn’t just a voice; perhaps he is as real as she is.
On a mission to find him, Layla encounters the mystery land of Avarid. She is reunited with Sam, however she discovers that her troubles are nothing compared to those who live in Avarid. Torn between helping her closest friend in a fight against the corrupt authorities who have his brother, and finally being able to create a new identity for herself in Avarid, Layla chooses Sam. The road she takes leads her on a journey of danger, kidnapping and magic in the fight to save Sam’s brother in time.
I have a degree in English Literature. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and this is my first novel. I have included the first ten pages of my manuscript. Please let me know if you would like further chapters of my novel. At present I am best contactable through email.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.

Kate

Mark.W.Carson
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Re: After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

Post by Mark.W.Carson » February 5th, 2013, 10:22 am

Many agents prefer you start by hooking them. That being said, I'd suggest you put the first paragraph last. They want to get to the meat of things, with hundreds of emails in their inbox, I can't say I blame them.

The first sentence of your next paragraph is pretty strong, but I would remove teenager and change it to her age.

This phrase:
perhaps he is as real as she is.

Needs to be reworked. It is a bit ambiguous and you have about 90 seconds of time to get the agent to say "YES" so you want to make sure they don't trip over the wording.


The road she takes leads her on a journey of danger, kidnapping and magic in the fight to save Sam’s brother in time.


Another good sentence, but you may want to expound on the kind of danger she'll face.


I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and this is my first novel.

Many agents would not like this, some might. I think you can safely toss it.

If you have emailed them this query, they know how to contact you. Do NOT include any part of your manuscript unless the submission guidelines state to do so. Sometimes they want 10 pages. Sometimes 3, sometimes none, and never as an attachment. You can remove the part about further chapters of your novel. That's their job and they know how to do that well. Wow them, and you'll get there.


The long and the short of it is, aside from a few technical missteps, this is a pretty solid query, at least in my humble opinion.

Krista G.
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Joined: December 7th, 2009, 4:47 pm
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Re: After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

Post by Krista G. » February 5th, 2013, 6:09 pm

Hi, Katiemouse! My thoughts below in purple.
Katiemouse wrote:Date


Agents Name
Agent Address

I assume you'll be sending most of these queries by e-mail, so you don't need to worry about all this old-school business letter formatting stuff. Just start with "Dear Ms. Name" at the top of the e-mail--and don't forget to include your contact information in a block under your signature!

Dear Ms. Name

(Insert Personal Tidbit)
My completed 71,000 word young adult fantasy novel, After the Closing: The Voice, is about a young girl’s search for belonging and her fight for what she knows is right. It contains many themes relevant to young people – such as friendship, loyalty and tolerance My young adult fantasy novel, AFTER THE CLOSING: THE VOICE, is complete at 71,000 words. You don't need to tell us what the story's about, since you're about to show us. And I'm going to disagree with Mark a little and say it doesn't really matter whether you insert this paragraph at the beginning or the end. A handful of agents have specific preferences, but as long as you get it in there somewhere, it's not going to be a deal-breaker. (That said, I did usually stick this information at the end of the query rather than the beginning.) It is the first in a projected series of three books based on the fantasy land of Avarid.

Outcast and struggling to make a friend at her strict high school, Layla Roberts is an unhappy teenager. This sentence is much less interesting than the next one. You might consider cutting it (or combining them somehow). She does, however, have one constant companion – the voice inside her head. Lately the voice, Sam, has become increasingly demanding on Layla’s time. Layla, overwhelmed by her changed relationship with Sam and determined she is ready to grow out of her ‘imaginary friend’, finds a way to banish him. I'd nix the quotation marks in this sentence, but if you do decide to keep them, you'll want to move the comma after "friend" inside the quotation marks. Then, guilty and alone, Layla discovers that perhaps Sam isn’t just a voice; perhaps he is as real as she is. I wanted a little more background here. How does she discover that Sam isn't just a voice? And what kind of relationship did they have before?

On a mission to find him, Layla encounters the mystery land of Avarid. How does she encounter it? She is reunited with Sam (Really? It's that easy? How does she find him? (Oh, and don't forget to change the comma after my little parenthetical aside to a semicolon, since you've got two complete sentences going on here)), however, she discovers that her troubles are nothing compared to those who live in Avarid. Torn between helping her closest friend in a fight against the corrupt authorities who have his brother, and finally being able to create a new identity for herself in Avarid, Layla chooses Sam. The road she takes leads her on a journey of danger, kidnapping and magic in the fight to save Sam’s brother in time. I wanted more details in this paragraph, too. You don't have to give away every plot point, but the more specific you can be, the better. I wanted to know how Sam's brother ended up in the corrupt authorities' evil clutches and who these corrupt authorities even are. I also wanted to know why she had to choose between helping Sam and creating a new identity for herself. In addition, why is she so willing to give up her life in the real world? Won't her parents worry about her? Does she just expect to ditch everyone she knew and leave them wondering for the rest of their lives what happened to her?

I have a degree in English Literature. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, and this is my first novel. I have included the first ten pages of my manuscript. Please let me know if you would like further chapters of my novel. At present I am best contactable through email.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.

Kate
I think fantasy queries are the hardest ones to write because you have to develop an entire world as well as a character and plotline. Focusing on what makes your story unique should help.

Also, if you haven't already, you ought to check out Sarah Rees Brennan's UNSPOKEN. You take your story in a much different direction, but they both start out with a similar premise. Reading hers might help you figure out how to differentiate yours.

Good luck!
Author of THE REGENERATED MAN (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, Winter 2015)
Represented by Kate Schafer Testerman of kt literary
www.motherwrite.blogspot.com

Katiemouse
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Joined: February 4th, 2013, 10:25 pm
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Re: After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

Post by Katiemouse » February 7th, 2013, 2:22 am

Wow! Thank you both so much for your feedback, it really is invaluable :) I've taken both of your suggestions on board. I'd really appreciate if you could look at the updated version below. Also what cvalue do you think a personalised paragraph at the start has? for example at the start of this leeter I was going to have -

I am querying you as I admire the fact that you took a risk in supporting a first-time author when you recognised talent. I think you would be a good fit for me and for what I have written, and I hope you enjoy my novel.

Thankyou again :)

Dear Ms. Name

Layla Roberts, 16 years old and without family or friends, lives with one constant companion – the voice inside her head. Lately the voice, Sam, has become increasingly demanding on Layla’s time. His previously supportive voice has become that of a cynic. Layla, overwhelmed by her changed relationship with Sam and determined she is ready to grow out of her imaginary friend, finds a man who claims he can banish Sam from her mind. Then afterwards, guilty and alone, Layla discovers from the man that Sam isn’t just a voice, but has a real presence in another land called Avarid.

Desperate to contact him, Layla finds a phone number, planted by Sam in the recesses of her mind. The number leads her to two friends of Sam – lawyers passionately fighting to end cruelty and corruption in their society. Eager to know more about her, they convince her to meet them at the doorway to the mystery land of Avarid. They show her that her troubles are nothing compared to those who live in Avarid. The society, on the surface functional, has for the past 60 years been facing its first blossoms of magical ability. Scared and conservative, the authorities, over the years led by a string of corrupt mayors, work to swiftly and violently repress anyone who is different. Sam, a leading force in speaking out against corruption, has had his brother taken in what appears to be an attempt to force Sam’s surrender. With nothing to return to, Layla decides to join the fight to rescue Sam’s brother. The road she takes leads her on a journey of danger, kidnapping and magic in the fight to save Sam’s brother in time.


My young adult fantasy novel, AFTER THE CLOSING: THE VOICE, is complete at 71,000 words. It is the first in a projected series of three books based on the fantasy land of Avarid. I have a degree in English Literature. I have included the first ten pages of my manuscript as requested.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission.


(insert name, address and email)

Katiemouse
Posts: 3
Joined: February 4th, 2013, 10:25 pm
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Re: After the Closing - YA Fantasy Query

Post by Katiemouse » February 9th, 2013, 1:35 am

I've just done an updated version of above (the red text is the new stuff). But now perhaps I am giving them information overload.


Dear Ms. Name

I am querying you as I admire the fact that you took a risk in supporting a first-time author when you recognised talent. I think you would be a good fit for me and for what I have written, and I hope you enjoy my novel.

Layla Roberts, 16 years old and without family or friends, lives with one constant companion – the voice inside her head. Lately the voice, Sam, has become increasingly demanding on Layla’s time. His previously supportive voice has become that of a cynic. Layla, overwhelmed by her changed relationship with Sam and determined she is ready to grow out of her imaginary friend, finds a man who claims he can banish Sam from her mind. Then afterwards, guilty and alone, Layla discovers from the man that Sam isn’t just a voice, but has a real presence in another land called Avarid.

Desperate to contact him, Layla finds a phone number, planted by Sam in the recesses of her mind. The number leads her to two friends of Sam – lawyers passionately fighting to end cruelty and corruption in their society. Eager to know more about her, they convince her to meet them at the doorway to the mystery land of Avarid. They show her that her troubles are nothing compared to those who live in Avarid. The society, on the surface functional, has for the past 60 years been facing its first blossoms of magical ability. Scared and conservative, the authorities, over the years led by a string of corrupt mayors, work to swiftly and violently repress anyone who is different.

Layla also discovers that connections like hers and Sam’s were once common in Avarid. However not any longer. The link between the minds of those in Avarid and those in the outside world has been closed for sixty years. This makes Sam an extremely valuable commodity to those that seek to use him, and places his freedom in great danger. It also means Layla has to go to all lengths to keep her identity hidden in a society which wouls ruthlessly use her in an attempt to return to the past.

Sam, both a leading force in speaking out against corruption and the only known person with the old gift
, has had his brother taken in what appears to be an attempt to force Sam’s surrender. With nothing to return to, Layla decides to join the fight to rescue Sam’s brother. The road she takes leads her on a journey of danger, kidnapping and magic in the fight to save Sam’s brother in time.

My young adult fantasy novel, AFTER THE CLOSING: THE VOICE, is complete at 71,000 words. It is the first in a projected series of three books based on the fantasy land of Avarid. I have a degree in English Literature. I have included the first ten pages of my manuscript as requested.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my submission

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