1. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    Query Letter Feedback

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by K.P Gazelle, Aug 9, 2014.

    Hello Everyone!

    I hope everyone is doing well :).

    I've written two different queries for my realistic young adult story. The first query highlights the main character's struggle with suicidal thoughts and the other one highlights the romantic element of the story and gives the story a different name. I'm not sure which angle would sell better (inspirational vs. romance).

    The first paragraph would be personalized to each specific agent; incorporating something they mentioned on their website, etc.

    Any constructive advice/feedback is highly appreciated! Thanks in advance :).

    QUERY ONE:

    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    Death will end it; garnering the strength to endure is life.

    In reference to your search for a young adult novel that addresses life issues relevant to today’s teens, I would like to offer my project, Keep Faith, for your representation.

    Faith Lane is the only girl at her high school who could shoot three pointers on the basketball court – in a skirt – the bookworm who enjoys paintballing. Faith has it all. A wardrobe most girls would kill for, an I.Q most people wish for, Tiffany – the best friend any girl could ask for – a luxurious home, a loving albeit eccentric family, an unwavering faith.

    And recurring thoughts of suicide.

    Drowning under everyone’s expectations, Faith flirts with suicide and nearly loses everything she holds dear. On her journey of recovery, Faith learns to believe in herself and her gift of dance, and experiences the joys and pains of first love with Alex Caputo, a quirky senior who has a mysterious secret of his own.

    Just as Faith finds footing, her head is forced back under by the guilt and grief of an irrevocable loss; shutting out everyone and everything, especially dance. With the unbending support of her loyal family and friends, Faith fights to get her world right side up and restore her faith in life.

    At times light and witty, others emotional and raw, Keep Faith is an inspiring story of cultivating courage from deep recesses in healing equally deep wounds and keeping faith even when enveloped in a daunting void of hopelessness.

    One reader of Keep Faith found the themes of discovering strength and triumph in the face of acceptable failure comparable to Dreamland and Lock and Key.

    Working first hand with young adults for nearly ten years inspired me to write Keep Faith. When not working with young adults, I do freelance writing for magazines.

    If interested, I’d love to send you the completed manuscript.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle


    QUERY TWO:

    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    Love can be destructive.

    In reference to your search for a young adult novel, I would like to offer my project, Leap Forward, for your representation.

    Fifteen-year-old vintage enthusiast Faith Lane is the only girl at her high school who wears long skirts and dresses even under Southern California’s scorching sun, she’s a bookworm who enjoys paintballing, and has baller skills both on the court and the dance floor.

    All her life, Faith has been expected to be perfect - the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect student. To make matters worse, Faith expects nothing less than perfection of herself. Drowning under monstrous pressures, Faith flirts with death and nearly loses everything she holds dear. On her journey of recovery, Faith learns to believe in herself and her gift of dance thanks to Alex Caputo, a quirky senior who has a mysterious secret of his own.

    In fact, the day Faith meets Alex life reaches perfection. It’s an unlikely romance. Alex is a varsity basketball player destined to become prom king while Faith doesn’t even hit the radar on the social front except for her wardrobe that is admittedly eccentric at times.

    Together, Faith and Alex experience the joys that come with first loves. Faith blushes every time she relives the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon, the nervous tingles still making her heart race. Her entire body floods with a kind of warmth she’s never known before whenever she discovers a surprise love note from Alex. And feels safer than ever each time Alex wraps his strong arms around her.

    But little did Faith know that all it would take is one night to turn perfection into destruction.

    Enduring an irrevocable loss, Faith shuts out everyone and everything, especially dance. With the unbending support of her loyal family and friends, Faith finds herself fighting to get her world right side up and restore her faith in life.

    At times light and witty, others emotional and raw, Leap Forward joins Faith and Alex on their unforgettable journey, a journey that will stay with readers long after the last page.

    Working first hand with young adults for nearly ten years inspired me to write Leap Forward. When not working with young adults, I do freelance writing for magazines.

    If interested, I’d love to send you the completed manuscript.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Get rid of what I'd call 'junk' phrasing the extra frills that aren't needed - In reference to, I would like to offer, for your representation.
    I know it's trying to pull in some good ideas like you know what they're looking for but I think it could be phrased more succinctly. The publishers are weighing your brevity at this point.

    Your story sounds interesting but the descriptions are weighted by cliches and catch phrases. I'm not sure if this is what publishers go for kinda blurby - so I'm hoping someone with more expertise steps in but I've read some how-to-write query articles. ( I have to say query writing is an art unto itself. ) Maybe bring out some precise details instead of teaser phrases like - Enduring an irrevocable loss, flirts with death, fights to get her world right side up. The trouble with them is the leave the reader with too many options what is an irrevocable loss? - the death of a family member, loss of faith, loss of her scholarship? or what does flirts with death means - how serious is the suicide attempt?, Fights to get her world right side up - how - does she talk with a pastor, see a councilor, confront her parents? More precise details would help the publisher know the character arch and plot. As right now it could be boiled down to - pressured, successful girl attempts suicide and must deal with the repercussions.
    Also watch doing this - let the readers or publisher decide if its memorable.
     
  3. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    Peachalulu,

    Thank you so much for your feedback!

    The reason why I wasn't too specific about what the exact irrevocable loss is or the seriousness of the suicide attempt is because it would reveal too much of the story. I was more specific about those details in the synopsis. I'm wondering how can I get it to sound less cliche-y or catch phrase-y without revealing too much.

    Also, which one did you feel was more intriguing? Or would be a better selling angle?
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think, but I'm not sure - it would depend on the publisher you picked and what they're interested in. But even still if there's a strong romance angle I wouldn't ignore it. I actually liked aspects of both but the second offered more precise details with stronger phrasing.
    Why are you worried about revealing too much?
     
  5. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    I've read that a query letter shouldn't reveal everything and leave the agent wanting to learn more about the story. So I guess, it's about striking the perfect balance of getting enough information about the story and character out there without spelling out the entire story.
     
  6. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    Here's an updated version. The changes are in red.


    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    Love can be destructive.

    Leap Forward is a realistic young adult fiction novel that [insert specifics of what agent’s looking for], complete at [word count].

    Fifteen-year-old vintage enthusiast Faith Lane is the only girl at her high school who wears long skirts and dresses even under Southern California’s scorching sun, she’s a bookworm who enjoys paintballing, and has baller skills both on the court and the dance floor.

    All her life, Faith has been expected to be perfect - the perfect daughter, the perfect sister, the perfect student. To make matters worse, Faith expects nothing less than perfection of herself. Drowning under monstrous pressures, Faith flirts with a full bottle of sleeping pills and nearly loses everything she holds dear. On her journey of recovery, Faith learns to believe in herself and her gift of dance thanks to Alex Caputo, a quirky senior who has a mysterious secret of his own.

    In fact, the day Faith meets Alex life reaches perfection. It’s an unlikely romance. Alex is a varsity basketball player destined to become prom king while Faith doesn’t even hit the radar on the social front except for her wardrobe that is admittedly eccentric at times.

    Together, Faith and Alex experience the joys that come with first loves. Faith blushes every time she relives the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon, the nervous tingles still making her heart race. Her entire body floods with a kind of warmth she’s never known before whenever she discovers a surprise love note from Alex. And feels safer than ever each time Alex wraps his strong arms around her.

    But little did Faith know that all it would take is one night to turn perfection into destruction.

    Enduring an irrevocable loss, Faith shuts out everyone and everything, especially dance, choosing instead to swim in an ocean of grief and guilt. Does Faith have the strength to leap forward or will she continue down the path of destruction?

    At times light and witty, others emotional and raw, Leap Forward joins Faith and Alex on their unforgettable journey, a journey that explores the many facets of being a young adult.

    Working first hand with young adults for nearly ten years inspired me to write Leap Forward. When not working with young adults, I do freelance writing for magazines.

    If interested, I’d love to send you the completed manuscript.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,

    K.P Gazelle
     
  7. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    A different approach:

    Dear [Agent’s Name],

    When Liberty High’s queen of popularity chucks a large cup of lemonade on fifteen-year-old Faith Lane’s face, she decides she’s had enough.

    That night, Faith begins downing a bottle of sleeping pills before finding the strength to stop. With renewed courage Faith resumes life determined to deal with her peers and the unreasonable pressures from her parents of being the embodiment of perfection.

    Weeks later, as Faith rushes to the school bus after being the laughing stock of upperclassmen boys looking for an easy target, she meets Alex Caputo, a varsity basketball player with a mysterious secret of his own, and the two strike an unlikely friendship. Alex encourages Faith’s passion for dance nudging her to try out for the school’s team instead of dancing alone in front of her bedroom mirror. But being on the dance team isn’t the only thing she owes Alex. It’s just the beginning.

    Soon Faith and Alex experience the joys that come with first loves. Faith blushes every time she relives the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon, the nervous tingles still making her heart race. Her entire body floods with a kind of warmth she’s never known before whenever she discovers a surprise love note from Alex. And feels safer than ever each time Alex wraps his strong arms around her.

    But little did Faith know that all it would take is one night to turn perfection into destruction.

    Enduring the loss of a loved one, Faith shuts out everyone and everything, especially dance, choosing instead to twirl in guilt. Does Faith have the strength to leap forward or will she continue down her destructive path?

    Leap Forward is a realistic young adult novel that [insert specifics of what agent’s looking for].

    Working first hand with young adults as a teacher for nearly ten years inspired me to write Leap Forward. When I manage to pop my head out of the young adult world, I freelance for magazines.

    If interested, I’d love to send you the manuscript completed at 89,260 words.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle
     
  8. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    Dear [Agent’s Name]:

    The day fifteen-year-old Faith Lane is hit in the head with a large cup of lemonade in front of a crowd at the mall, Faith decides she’s suffered through one too many episodes of bullying and concocts an escape plan.

    That night, Faith sneaks her Mama's bottle of sleeping pills into her room and begins stuffing her mouth two pills at a time before she begins to choke and is forced to stop, giving her the chance to take a step back. With renewed courage Faith resumes life determined to deal with her peers and the unreasonable pressure from her parents of being the embodiment of perfection.

    Weeks later, as Faith rushes to catch the school bus she meets Alex Caputo, a varsity basketball player with a mysterious secret of his own, and the two strike an unlikely friendship. Through Alex’s encouragement Faith starts believing in her gift of dance and finds she’s dancing onstage in front of a roaring crowd instead of her bedroom mirror. But being on the school’s dance team isn’t the only thing she owes Alex. It’s just the beginning.

    Soon Faith and Alex experience the joys that come with first loves. Faith blushes every time she relives the sweetness of their first kiss on a cool summer night lit by a full moon, the nervous tingles still making her heart race. Her entire body floods with a kind of warmth she’s never known before whenever she discovers a surprise love note from Alex. And feels safer than ever each time Alex wraps his strong arms around her.

    But little does Faith know that all it takes is one night to shatter her newly created world.

    Enduring the loss of a loved one, Faith shuts out everyone and everything, especially dance, choosing instead to twirl in guilt.

    Does Faith have the strength to let go of her past and leap forward or will she continue down her self-destructive path?

    Leap Forward is a realistic young adult novel that [insert specifics of what agent’s looking for].

    Working first hand with young adults as a teacher and counselor for nearly ten years inspired me to write Leap Forward. When I manage to pop my head out of the young adult world, I freelance for magazines.

    If interested, I’d love to send you the manuscript completed at 89,260 words.

    Thank you very much for your time and I look forward to future correspondence.

    Best,
    K.P Gazelle
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2014

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