Query Letter Help

Hi! I’ve been working on a query letter to send to a few agents and could use some feedback. I’m not sure if it’s a little too lengthy right now, and I’m hoping it’s not too vague. Any advice is appreciated:)

Dear [Agent Name]:

I’m currently seeking representation for my 80,000 word YA Historical Fiction, STELLINA. Given your interest in [insert personalization], I think this manuscript would be a great fit for you.

When LINA FONTAINE first entered the bookstore, she had hoped merely to find the next engaging novel that would distract her from all her troubles. Little did she know that she’d leave with a book that could save her crumbling family and a ticket to attend the concert of a pianist that would change her life.

After an accident that renders her speechless and kills her brother, fifteen-year-old Lina is forced to move to Marseilles. Heartbroken and disillusioned with life, Lina is disgusted with her new home and the poverty that seems present everywhere in 1930s France. One day, she ventures into a bookstore, and she ends up not only taking home a book, but attending the concert of a German-Jewish pianist, LUKA FUHRMANN.

Following a series of intense arguments with her family, Lina turns to her book for comfort, in the process discovering a letter from a father searching for his missing child. When her own father abandons them and sends for Lina’s sister to live with him in America, Lina becomes determined to keep her family from completely falling apart like the family in the letters. She turns to Luka for comfort, and he offers her a job with him. When Lina discovers their new boss is connected to the missing girl in the letter and is offering a monetary reward if Lina finds her, she realizes this may be her chance to save her sister from leaving Marseilles.

Yet Lina soon realizes that Luka is as mysterious as the letter, and in spite of the dangerous secrets he seems to be concealing and the dangers that come with his being Jewish, Lina cannot help but feel drawn to him more and more. As Lina spends more time with Luka and continues uncovering clues, however, she realizes that in trying to save her crumbling family, she may only be destroying them further. And when the missing child is finally found, Lina is forced to uncover her own identity and decipher what is most important: her family, the boy she loves, or herself.

Hope this helps! Good luck :slight_smile:

Some good points in the response above which make me wonder if you read the queryshark blog? All of it. If no, please do, as it will give you some sound insights into the essentials of query letters. Good luck with your query.

Yes it was very helpful, thank you so much! :slight_smile: One question I have is if the second paragraph is necessary? I included it because I read somewhere that a query letter should have a strong hook, but for explaining the plot I don’t know if it’s really important.

I’ve read several blogs about queries but I don’t know if I read that particular one, so I’ll check it out. Thanks!

Janet’s is THE blog for querying. I read it all and it is a bit mind-boggling but super-helpful. She’s cruel - and funny. And very, very instructive. I never submitted my query to her, most don’t get taken. But I learned a few things and the publisher who eventually signed me up said my query was very professional.
So, it works!

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I don’t think the first paragraph you put (AFTER I’m seeking rep) is necessary - you should start with the second one, the one that I said it read like the first paragraph (After an accident that renders her speechless…). That’s where your plot begins, and I’ve read that a query letter’s first sentence should always begin with your main character, so that line is really good.

I’d say only worry about a “hooky plot paragraph/sentence” if your story is super high concept, which I wouldn’t say this is (which isn’t a bad thing - just different! My work is not high concept either)

Like, some high concept query letters begin with with a logline of sorts before the actual body of the query, which I don’t think you need.

Okay! Good to know, thanks so much!