Querying: Formatting & Examples

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A note on personalization: It is not required to personalize your query. Many agents prefer a straightforward query. But just in case the agent you are querying does like personalization--do your research?

QUERY FORMAT: NON-PERSONALIZED (STANDARD)

Dear agent,

Paragraph one: book hook.

Paragraph two: nuts & bolts of your book (see above).

Paragraph three: STAKES & FINAL THOUGHT

Paragraph four: NAME OF BOOK is a YA GENRE, complete at WORD COUNT. It will appeal to fans of BOOK COMP by AUTHOR and BOOK COMP by AUTHOR. [OR] Pitched as MEDIA COMP meets MEDIA COMP, it will appeal to fans of BOOK COMP by AUTHOR and BOOK COMP by AUTHOR. While NAME OF BOOK can stand alone, it is the first in a planned TRILOGY/DUOLOGY. [OR] NAME OF BOOK is a stand alone with series potential.

Paragraph five: I am a YOUR JOB and OTHER WRITING QUALIFICATION(S).

Thank you for your consideration.

YOUR NAME

PHONE NUMBER

TWITTER HANDLE OR BLOG LINK

QUERY FORMAT ONE: PERSONALIZED

Dear agent,

Paragraph one: a brief explanation of why you are querying the agent, ending with a variation on: I hope you will consider NAME OF BOOK, a YA GENRE complete at WORD COUNT. COMPS here if you are using them.

Paragraph two: your book hook, which usually includes the protags name, age and unique situation/your hook.

Paragraph three: the nuts and bolts of your book, including introducing the PRIMARY CONFLICT. This is also the place to drop in a few colorful details that will make your work standout. Maybe your MC's hobby (crocheting! hockey! whatever!) or a Thing That Happens in your book that is Really Cool. Also the place to tease the romantic lead/conflict, if it is secondary to your primary conflict (because if it's YA, even if romance is not primary, it's assumed there IS a love interest).

Paragraph four: short, hook-y, lines up your STAKES and FINAL THOUGHT (the thing that will leave them wanting more)

Paragraph five: A short bio, full of things relevant to your writing.

Thank you for your consideration.

YOUR NAME

PHONE NUMBER

TWITTER HANDLE OR BLOG LINK

Here is my query for BRIGHTLY BURNING, so you can see it all put together for a "real" book. I had a 75% request rate. I ended up personalizing this batch of queries in order to front load my queries with my pitch--Jane Eyre in space--and also because my query list was highly curated, and I had a personal reason for querying most of the agents. Note that my title has changed--this is very common!

Dear Ms. Roth Parker,

I saw on your #MSWL that you're looking for high concept YA and enjoy sci-fi twists. I hope you will consider my YA science fiction retelling, SOLITARY AMONGST THE STARS, which is JANE EYRE in space, featuring a multicultural cast. The novel is a standalone and complete at 99,800 words.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Ainsley wants just one thing: to go somewhere, anywhere else. Her current home is a floundering spaceship that offers few prospects, little food, and a very good chance of dying from disease. Escape isn't easy; every application she's made to transfer to another ship has been rejected.

Finally, the private ship Rochester hires her as a governess, offering her a life of luxury and safety, but also secrets and shadows. Captain Hugo Fairfax, barely nineteen and frustratingly handsome, is notorious throughout the fleet for being a recluse and a drunk. But with Stella he's kind, even a bit flirtatious. Then he brings aboard Bianca Ingram, who is everything Stella isn't: tall, gorgeous, rich, and intended for Hugo. Stella knows how to take a hint.

Then, the accidents start. A damaged airlock, a fire in Hugo's room, a mysterious guest attacked in the middle of the night. The Captain says everything is fine, but Stella begins her own private investigation into the mysterious ship, its captain, and supposed cargo. Because she's certain someone is trying to kill Hugo, whether he's willing to admit it or not.

I graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a degree in Magazine Journalism and currently work in international television marketing in Los Angeles. I'm on the YA Literature staff for sci-fi/fantasy convention DragonCon, which last year drew over 70,000 attendees, in addition to serving as the Marketing Director and YA Literature and Writing Track director for Leviosa, a Harry Potter and YA Literature convention. I'm also a moderator for the sub-reddit YAwriters.

Per your submission guidelines, please find below the first 10 pages of my manuscript. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,

MY REAL NAME (writing as Alexa Donne)

MY EMAIL

MY PHONE NUMBER

MY WEBSITE URL

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