Q is for Query

I wonder how many people will choose Query for their subject today? Though queries are the bane of many a writer's existence, they are necessary. Even if you already have an agent or publisher, it really is good to write one early on in the manuscript process as a sort of exercise. Doing so will force you to define just what exactly will happen to your characters. Who are they, what are they afraid of losing, what will happen if it's all taken away, and how will they turn things around and become the hero? You need to define this, and then start adding voice. Make it read like a mini version of the best parts of your book. Entice. Bait. Make someone laugh or cry or both.

Last spring I read everything I could on query writing, the Writer's Digest agent issue being my favorite source. They have sample queries that agents love, and tips on what agents don't like to see (so glad mine wasn't in there!). It helps to see examples as a sort of template. So . . . here's one of mine that I've been working on. It's not perfect, but I think it sells the book fairly well.

Dear Agent Sparkly Pants:

Fourteen-year-old Joni Weaver is a proud member of the Freak Table. That’s where all the uncool kids sit everyday for lunch at Hell, er, Hellman High. Perhaps the honor was earned by her wardrobe of sparkly clothing (shouldn’t have given her mom that Bedazzler for Christmas) and buck teeth, or maybe it’s her strange inability to speak when spoken to without sounding like a broken record.

But those ain’t problems. Living in a house with seven cats is a problem. Having a mom who plays online poker all day is a problem. Having an estranged father who works in the projector room at the local movie theater with a bottle of whiskey in his hands is a problem. And when’s that darn first period gonna start? Now that’s a problem. Joni’s about ready to explode, a nice solution to her semi-doomed existence.

Pressured into trying out for the school play, Joni decides to make everyone see she’s more than just a member of the Freak Table. That she just might be somebody. That the rhinestones, and the dead-beat mom, the Virgin Mary status, the Southern Comfort guzzling dad and his new needy wife, they’re not her. She can escape. She can prevail. But first . . . she’s gonna have to try out.

‘BYE JONI WEAVER is a YA mainstream of 70,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Yours truly,

Amy Saia

It takes a lot of time and effort to write a query letter. But it can be done, and the main thing is that you represent your book—and the MC—in the right way. Good luck to anyone out there who is in this process right now. You'll get it!


  1. Yep, I did the Q is for query post too. I find that you can't ever learn enough about querying.

    You definitely have a great query letter there. The voice is awesome. It lets you know what the book is about, and I would read more. :D

  2. Thank you! I just have to finish the book now : )~

  3. So many of us sat at the freak table at one time in our life and can relate to Joni. Good query

  4. That is some voice! Excellent query.

  5. Ha! I did Q for Query as well. However, I talked about how afraid I was and I'm not even there yet. You, on the other hand, shared your very own query! First of all, nicely done! But second, thanks for being brave enough to put it out there for all of us to read.

  6. I've begun to like Joni already.


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