I learned how to write a query by reading successful ones (and the Query Shark archives). I’ve also found some of my favorite books by reading the authors’ queries, so they are the gift that keeps on giving.
Since Renee and I are going to be #PitchWars co-mentors this year and everyone is sharing their successful queries, I’m thrilled to show you the query that got me my fabulous agent, Natascha Morris.
Are there things I would change about this query, a year and a half later? Yes. Was it still successful despite the snafus I’m seeing right now? Yes.
A warning before we jump in. My agent uses a query system (I believe it’s Query Manager?), so I don’t have the personalized version of it, but these are the bare bones I used for my contemporary YA novel.
Dear Ms. Morris,
Seventeen-year-old Masha Herrera meets Ethan, the perfect guy: geeky, into her favorite video game—and captain of her online enemy team and bane of her digital existence. And their rivalry’s about to bleed into the real world since both of their teams will compete in the same gaming tournament.
They might be reluctant offline rivals, but they’re competing for the same prize—thousands of dollars and an internship at Masha’s dream tech company. For a girl with small pockets and big goals, that’s the opportunity of a lifetime. So Masha avoids Ethan like the virtual plague-infected vermin she’s so fond of killing. But the tournament takes place in a tiny, reportedly haunted hotel, and everywhere Masha turns, she finds Ethan, tinkering with his camera or making intense eye-contact. With one too many mandatory ‘fun’ activities pushing them together and into the same creepy rooms, ignoring him becomes harder than navigating digital wastelands. The fact that he’s set on apologizing for past online mistakes isn’t helping her resolve. At all.
As players get disqualified for trumped- up reasons, Masha’s teammates warn her Ethan’s probably trying to distract her from winning. With her dream career on the line, she has to decide if Ethan really is a threat or if there’s more to their connection than a simple game.
LOVE, LIES, AND THE OTHER TEAM DIES is a YA contemporary novel, complete at 83,000 words. This manuscript was mentored during PitchWars 2016.