View Full Version : Query Letters for Teen MC in Adult Scifi

12-10-2016, 09:28 PM
I'm about to start querying a scifi novel with multiple MCs, most of whom are adults but one of whom is a teenager. For a variety of narrative and sample-pages related reasons, it's easiest to build the query letter around the teenage character rather than any of the adults. The book is definitely not YA in terms of themes or style, but I've gotten some feedback in Query Letter Hell indicating that a teenage MC implies YA whereas I describe mine as adult scifi. My question is whether there is some way to signal in the query letter that I haven't just mislabeled the category and that this is indeed an adult scifi novel that happens to feature a teenage MC? Or will this even be an issue for agents reading the query?

12-10-2016, 10:33 PM
I would think you should be fine. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card is an example. I often find it in the YA section now days because the characters are young, but it was not written as YA. Query it as adult, and let the agents/publishers decide the exact market.

12-11-2016, 12:26 AM
Hmm . . . interesting question. Do you give the age of the MC? Generally when one gives the age of the MC it's because age matters to the market. I wonder if there's a way of not talking about the teen elements of the character, of making that incidental. Not giving a specific age, calling them a "young man" or "young women". Or something. Let me go look at your query . . . one sec . . .

12-11-2016, 12:31 AM
Okay read it.

Yeah the problem is that using your teen character as the lynchpin really makes the whole query sound YA. It really reads like "teen saves the day" and honestly there is nothing in the query that gives the impression it is an adult book at all.

If you don't want to give that impression, I think you might have to reconsider how you are structuring your query. I know you wanted to focus on only one main character, but maybe it's time to choose more than that and do something like:

Dan Smith is an architect intent on proving he can build houses that fly. Joanne Worthington wants nothing more than to finally retire down south and be with the man she's only met through Facebook. Anna Sloane just wants to live to reach her sixteenth birthday. And Pastor John can't save anyone, let alone his ten year old son. Such different lives and goals, and yet all their paths end up crossing the day the sky starts to rain blood.


You know.

Better and your actual story.

But yeah. Right now your problem is too big to correct with a different sentence here and one there. Total revamp I think is required.

Old Hack
12-11-2016, 12:18 PM
As you have an active thread about this in QLH (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?324447-Query-Red-Hail-(Sci-fi)-New-Post-28), I'm going to lock this now.