The Mess of the Query Letter

The mess of my life too, Squiders.

I’ve finally got everything in order to start getting my submission stuff together for my YA paranormal novel. So now I need to construct a query letter and a synopsis. I haven’t had to do either in, oh, five, six years? And sky sharks, does it show.

I kind of flipped out for the first few days this week. Do query letters still work the same way they did back then? If not, how have they changed? And then I cavorted about the Internet for an unnecessary amount of time. And then I procrastinated writing my query letter for as long as humanly possible, and then I wrote two of what are perhaps the worst query letters known to man.

I’d really like someone else to look at them. But my main writing community has undergone a membership shift in the past several years, and there’s not as many experienced people on a regular basis anymore. Do you know of any good communities for such things, Squiders? I promise that I will reciprocate (I’m actually decently at telling what’s wrong with query letters that are not my own) and not just be that annoying poster who shows up and asks for critique without so much as a “How do you do?”

And for the sake of why not, I’ll post my two current attempts here underneath a cut. If you’re interested in such things, you can give them a look.

Everything I looked at divided query letter writing into one of two processes, hence the two wildly different letters.

Short, concise letter:

Dear Agent,

Sara O’Neill, resident smart kid, must team up with her archnemesis in order to save her best friend from a vengeful ghost hellbent on regaining her place in the real world.

[Title] is a 90,000-word young adult paranormal novel exploring the strength of friendship and redemption, and should appeal to fans of Anna Dressed in Blood.

I am an indie-published author with two novels out, and have had stories published in anthologies such as Under Her Protection. I am also a member of the Littleton Speculative Fiction group, where I run the storycraft discussion meetings.

Thank you for your consideration, and I would be happy to send the partial or full manuscript upon request.
~Kit Campbell

And the long, rambly letter:

Dear Agent,

I saw on [insert place] that you are looking for [appropriate description that matches story]. You may be interested in [Title], a 90,000-word young adult paranormal novel.

They say that the Fairmont High library is haunted.

Sara’s much too practical to worry about silly things like ghosts—not when she’s got to live up to her parents’ academic expectations, survive her best friend Ali’s shenanigans, and stay under bully and general-pain-in-the-butt Cecily Roberts’ radar.

When Ali starts avoiding the library, worrying about people who aren’t really there and threatening whispers, Sara chalks it up to her friend’s overactive imagination. But then Ali disappears, somewhere between third period and the nurse’s office.

The police are at a loss as to where Ali could possibly have gone. But Sara knows Ali never left the school, because she keeps getting increasingly disturbing letters in their shared locker. And, perhaps more worrying, is that Cecily seems to know that as well.

It may be that the only way to save her friend will be to enlist her worst enemy.

I am an indie-published author with two novels out, and have had stories published in anthologies such as Under Her Protection. I am also a member of the Littleton Speculative Fiction group, where I run the storycraft discussion meetings.

Thank you for your consideration, and I would be happy to send the partial or full manuscript upon request.
~Kit Campbell

Fire away, Squiders!

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