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Old 01-29-2005, 10:29 AM   #1
Skim
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YA Query Letter

I'm new to submitting query letters to agents, so would anyone mind giving me feedback? Any help is appreciated. The addresses and specific agency are deleted.


Dear ###:

I would like to submit a manuscript for my commercial young adult novel, Cyborg Mike, to your agency. Your listing on ### states that you are looking for science fiction with a revolutionary spin.

In the novel, thirteen-year-old Mike fantasizes about becoming a cyborg, a creature with part of his body replaced by machine parts to give him extraordinary abilities. After three years in foster care, he is tired of others deciding his fate. A secret program known as the Institute pulls him from foster care and offers to transform him into a cyborg. Eager to make his own decisions, he agrees. When he returns to his hometown afterward, other people’s reactions to his bionics create conflict. The bionics intended to empower him also handicap him physically and socially. After the fact, he struggles with revelations that the Institute used and may still use mind control techniques to encourage his compliance.

Cyborg Mike is not bloody or gruesome. It wrestles with issues of making decisions at a young age, free will, and the consequences of running away from problems.

I am a certified substance abuse counselor and have extensive experience working with adolescents in the counseling, substance abuse, and mental health fields. I have also worked as a hospital social worker, counseling patients with amputations, prosthetics, paralysis, and other life-altering physical changes. I am a Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor in the State of Illinois and hold a B.A. in social work. While I avidly read and write, this is the first book I have submitted. Query letters are being sent to multiple agencies.

Thank you for considering my work. You can reach me at ###.

Sincerely,




###
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Old 01-30-2005, 03:26 AM   #2
stormie267
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Re: YA Query Letter

Quote:
I am a certified substance abuse counselor and have extensive experience working with adolescents in the counseling, substance abuse, and mental health fields. I have also worked as a hospital social worker, counseling patients with amputations, prosthetics, paralysis, and other life-altering physical changes. I am a Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor in the State of Illinois and hold a B.A. in social work. While I avidly read and write, this is the first book I have submitted. Query letters are being sent to multiple agencies.
Okay, I'd take out "I am a certified substance abuse counselor" Just put in that you have extensive experience working with adolescents in counseling, (etc). Also, don't bother with "I have also worked as a hospital social worker, counseling patients with amputations, prosthetics, paralysis, and other life-altering physical changes. I am a Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor in the State of Illinois and hold a B.A. in social work."

Don't bother with this either: "While I avidly read and write, this is the first book I have submitted."

So, basically, I like the first three paragraphs, don't like the fourth. Cut it down to the basics. Make sure you give your contact info--email, snail mail, phone.

You're book sounds interesting-- Good luck !

I'd like to add--if you don't have anything published, don't mention it. And being an avid reader and writer isn't going to impress an editor or agent.
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:46 PM   #3
Skim
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Re: YA Query Letter

Thanks for the advice. I've cut the items you suggested.
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Old 01-31-2005, 12:49 PM   #4
RKinnamon
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Re: YA Query Letter

The letter is pretty good. The agent knows why you're writing, so maybe you could move the second paragraph up, remove the words "In the novel," and just start off with "Thirteen year-old Mike dreams of becoming a cyborg...." Then move the request to submit your manuscript to the end, just before the "thank you" paragraph. This approach grabs the reader's attention from the start.

Also, it is important to state why you're qualified to write the novel, but you gave way too much information. It would be sufficient to say, "I have extensive experience counseling with adolescents about life decisions."

Good luck with it.
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Old 01-31-2005, 09:12 PM   #5
stormie267
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Re: YA Query Letter

Okay, I'm going to jump back in.

I'd leave the first paragraph where it is and the way it is. It seems more polite to address the agent this way, rather than just "Hi, here's what my book is about." And it's only a few sentences. It also shows that you did your research trying to find the right agent for your book.
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Old 02-01-2005, 03:11 PM   #6
RKinnamon
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Re: YA Query Letter

The right balance of substance and style is somewhat subjective. Writing a cover letter in search of an agent (or editor) is kind of like writing a résumé in search of a job. There is no exact formula or goal, other than to get noticed. I have read hundreds and hundreds of résumés, and written dozens of cover letters. In my observation, the ones that get noticed standout because of something unique. Where you place a paragraph, how you state your goals, or whether or not you give few details about your qualifications are all subjective choices.

Just my two cents. Good luck.
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Old 02-03-2005, 09:24 AM   #7
Skim
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Re: YA Query Letter

Thanks for all the helpful feedback.
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Old 02-04-2005, 04:32 AM   #8
macalicious731
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Re: YA Query Letter

Hi, Skim. I hope you don't mind me tooling with your second paragraph. You are in no way entitled to take my suggestions, and please keep in mind all I have done is to rearrange your own words.

"After three years in foster care, thirteen year old Mike is tired of others deciding his fate. A secret program known as the Institute pulls him from foster care and offers to transform him into a cyborg. Fantasizing about being granted extraordinary abilities, and eager to make is own decisions, he agrees. When he returns to his hometown, Mike discovers the bionics intended to empower him also handicap him physically and socially, and he struggles with the revelations that the Institute used mind control techniques to encourage his compliance."

I wanted to include a few more things, but since I didn't know your storyline I couldn't put them in myself. For example, I would have finished this sentence, "also handicap him physically and socially, and he becomes an outcast." [Or whatever it is happens to him.] Then, I would have like the next sentence to read something like, "While he tries to make friends, he struggles with the revelation..." [Or, whatever he's doing in reaction to whatever society does to him.]

I hope that makes sense, and you don't mind my little tweaks.

Good luck!
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