The Query Simplified

Are you query-ready for Pitch Wars?

The first impression of your book comes from the query. It should be short and hooky. But how do you get everything about your book in your query? You don’t. It’s a teaser. You only need just enough information to hook an agent or editor. So I thought I’d share with you how I do my queries. Here’s a simplified formula. I hope it helps you to come up with a query that hooks.

1st Paragraph

The hook. This should be a few sentences that hooks the agent/publisher to read on. What’s unique about your story? Get it in your hook. I usually start with my inciting incident for the hook like in the example below, “Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library.” It’s the part where after something life-changing happens to your character, they are propelled on their journey. There’s no turning back. No going back to life as normal.

2nd Paragraph

The book. This is a mini-synopsis of the story. The main plot. What is the character’s goal? What obstacles are in the way of her goals? What will happen if she doesn’t accomplish her goals? Get the conflict and stakes in this mini-synopsis.

3rd Paragraph

Your bio. Publishing credits and blogs or sites you contribute to that have to do with writing only. Don’t add family, pets, or events that don’t pertain to publishing. Don’t say your mother read it and loves it. If you don’t have a bio like I hadn’t when I was querying, no worries, just leave it out.

4th (or 3rd) Paragraph

The closing.

Note: Keep your query to around 250 words. Personalize your query to an agent. Add voice and stir.

Sample:

Dear Ms. Agent,

(Hook) Gia Kearns would rather spar with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum, suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he’d abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound.

(Mini-synopsis) Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting forbidden love or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French vixen obsessed with Arik and a flirtation with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed.

(Bio) I didn’t have one.

(Closing) Combining elements of fantasy and romance, LIBRARY JUMPERS, a young adult fantasy is complete at 100,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,
Brenda Drake

This query earned me many partial and full requests from agents, and ultimately a book deal.