Thursday, January 31, 2013

Query letter #3: Barry R

I'm seeking representation for my completed 35,000 word young adult novel THE STRANGER IN MY HEAD. I note that many of your clients write in this genre. [It's good - but not essential - to say something like this as then the agent knows you've done some research. Too often writers submit to agents who don't represent their genre, and that just wastes everyone's time.]

That noise in Angie's heads; [I said I wouldn't correct typos but I will point out this one - 'heads' - it perhaps sends the wrong message about your story] it's tinnitus, the doctors say, but Angie knows better. It's a voice, a man's voice. Whose is it? Where is it coming from? Those are the very questions the voice itself wants answered. It needs help and it's telling Angie to do things she's scared to do. [Otherwise this is a solid pitch - it incites curiosity.]

As if school bullies aren't enough for a shy fifteen-year-old to deal with [good to mention the age of the character in a YA sub, just so the agent/publisher is sure you've identified the right age group], not to mention friends who think she's weird, and her feelings for that cute new guy in her class, she's now expected to find the voice's owner by following the direction it comes from. And the first thing in that direction? Rookwood Cemetery. Either the voice is real or Angie is insane.She must solve the mystery if she wants her mind back. But Angie's search will reveal more than she expects and will put her life and the lives of her friends in mortal danger. Does she have the necessary courage? Well, with the cutest guy in school on her side, maybe. [The pitch is intriguing but could be tightened a little, punctuation wise. It feels a bit breathless at the moment.]

Each chapter of THE STRANGER IN MY HEAD has been thoroughly critiqued by the long-established writing group the ... ... Writers [that's nice but it's actually more pertinent to tell me the next bit -->]It has been through many edits and is as ready as I can make it. It's my first young adult novel but I've had several short stories and articles published, won competition and completed a fantasy trilogy. I'm working on my next novel. [All good pieces of information as they tell me that you've been writing for a while and that you're still writing. However, I'd like to know why you're now writing YA when you haven't before.]

I've attached a short synopsis, author bio and the first three chapters for your consideration.Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you. 

General feedback: A good letter. You might want to slip in something about who you think the reader is - 'for every teenager who's ever thought the only sane person they know', or something like that (not exactly that, obviously). Young adult fiction is now a very broad church that also takes in adults, so writers need to start identifying which YA audience they're writing for. In the olden days it was more simple: there was one type of teenager and it was the type who read The Outsiders.

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