First off, thank you so much to the 150+ very intrepid souls who volunteered their queries and pages for public consumption and our sort-of-scientific test of the query process.
Here’s how I whittled them down to five. I classified the queries loosely by genre (fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, etc. lumped together and romantic suspense, thriller, mystery, etc. lumped together), then checked to see which genre had the most entries. And yes indeed, YA Fantasy narrowly edged out mystery/suspense!
I then used the random number generator at random.org to select the five entries.
As you read the queries, please remember the purpose of this experiment: you are thinking like an agent. You are not looking for the best query according to the rules of blogging agents or what you personally would choose to read in your spare time. You are looking for the query that you think will have the best written pages and that you think has the most potential of selling to a publisher. Your job depends, in fact, on looking past the query. (Hopefully the writers helped you with queries that reflect the pages, which is why we blogging agents spend so much time dispensing advice.)
Please be exceedingly, ridiculously, incredibly nice to the participants who so bravely offered their queries to science. If I see one anonymous commenter who comes in and is all, “Meh meh meh I don’t like any of them mine’s way better I’m so awesome because no one knows who I am” I will confiscate everyone’s science kits and I mean it!!
Now then. There is a poll at the end of the post. Please vote for the query you would be most likely to request if you were an agent. If you subscribe by e-mail or in an RSS reader you will need to click through to see the poll, and e-mail subscribers, please do not e-mail me your votes.
Here are the queries!
#1: I’M A NOBODY:
Dear Agent for a Day,
Everything Dominic Taylor thought he knew about the universe was shattered when he followed his classmate through a door, and into another world. While trying to get home he is pulled into a war between man and myth that had been going on for centuries. He soon learns that the reasons behind the war are more complex than man’s fear of the supernatural. The only way he can return home is by finding what his deceased father’s research calls the Source, but no one could have guessed what he would find instead.
In the 70,000 words of I’m a Nobody Dominic struggles to find a place where he fits in, to rise above the crimes of the father he never met, and to come to terms with who, and what, he is.
I chose to submit this novel for your consideration after joining your blog. It’s been very helpful for preparing my manuscript and query letter, and I saw you represent most genres. Upon your request I am prepared to send the complete manuscript. This is my first novel.
Thank you for taking the time to consider my Novel.
#2: I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY
Dear Agent for a Day,
Presley O’Connor expects a memorable senior year. What she doesn’t expect is the letter that arrives on her eighteenth birthday with her mutilated senior picture and a wish for a happy last birthday.
A serial killer has chosen her for his sixth victim, but his presence is affecting more than just Presley. Reid Montgomery, a guy she had a massive crush on three years before, is having visions of her abduction and murder. Visions aren’t new to Reid. His family has been under a 400 year old spell that allows them to save others and to find their soul mates. Seeing her in the vision, he knows exactly why he must save her.
When the killer moves to kidnap Presley on Christmas Eve, Reid arrives just in time to save her. The love between Presley and Reid is immediate and powerful. Presley believes nothing will ever stand in the way of their happiness. Reid sees a different picture and as the killer escapes from jail determined to add her to his collection of victims, Reid is unable to stop him. This time saving Presley will take all Reid’s magic, love, and more.
My YA paranormal romance, I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY, is complete at 92,000 words. I am prepared to send a partial or full manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel.
Dear Agent for a Day,
Sixteen-year-old Maya Georgiou is a beautiful ocean nymph faced with an impossible decision. She must choose between sacrificing Nate, the only boy she’s ever cared about, to a Greek Goddess with insane demands – or take his place instead.
SHORELINE, complete at 65,000 words, follows Maya as she and her family move back to Bar Harbor, Maine to help the sickly marine life developing offshore. As they settle in the tiny town, Maya finds herself intrigued by the sullen (albeit gorgeous) waiter at the local resort.
After a brief, rocky start, Maya and Nate fall for each other, but the rest of Maya’s world deteriorates. Her attempts to cure the ailing ocean creatures continue to fail, all while her family schemes to destroy her love life. In a shocking revelation they disclose one final, horrific family secret. Maya is not just an ocean nymph. She is also a Siren and must make a deadly sacrifice to appease the Goddess Persephone.
Maya has only days to make her decision. Does she spare Nate by succumbing to the sickness that is literally drowning her alive? Or does she convince him to plunge into the ocean abyss where he will die to fulfill her ancestral obligations?
Although Shoreline is a standalone novel, I have outlined a sequel and have completed another young adult urban fantasy novel.
I freelance for several websites with an audience of teens and young adults and am a member of SCBWI and YALitChat. I’m published in non-fiction, with titles including The Everything Card Games Book and The Everything Lateral Thinking Puzzles Book.
Attached please find the first 30 pages, as requested.
Thank you in advance for your time,
#4: BLACK EMERALDS
Dear Agent for a Day,
Sometimes you go looking for fate, hoping to find a path to greatness. Sometimes she breaks down your door with an apocalyptic grin and drags you out in the alley.
For Kayden Verus, it’s the latter. Fate blessed him with super powers: good looks, superior strength, a killer smile, and more confidence than a seventeen-year-old kid should have. He never realized that she’d come looking for payback.
His story begins with a simple fact: Phaedons exist. They are physical representations of life’s virtues and one of them was Kayden’s father. Upon learning this, he leaves his small town safety to find his true identity at the prestigious Summit High School.
Instead of fate though, he is greeted by mythical creatures called Shades trying to end his life. He is able to foil their murder attempt but he can’t stop them from dragging him into the middle of the ancient war between the Phaedons and the Diotriphe family that controls them.
Enter Ailia. There’s only one thing that can conquer a cocky young man with cosmetic super powers: a beautiful girl with actual super powers. Like all boys, he’s helpless. She captivates him at first site but her sadistic tendencies and unhinged nature might kill him long before he discovers which side she’s actually on.
Black Emeralds is complete at 105,000 words and is of the young adult genre.
I am a first time author with a business undergrad from Millikin University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Thank you for your time.
#5: UNREALITY CHICK
Dear Agent for a Day,
When faced with the grim prospect of another year of being the nicest, quietest girl in high school, Rebecca Rogers decides it’s time to get wild. Sure, she’s afraid of the dark, heights, big bugs, and cute guys, but she decides the key to coolness lies in overcoming her fears one at a time. She starts with heights. Unfortunately, the tree she chooses to climb turns out to be the tallest object on the highest hill in an expected thunder storm. Rebecca jumps to escape a lightning strike and falls into a fantastic new world.
Though she’s pretty sure she must be lying in a hospital somewhere and experiencing the world’s wildest coma-induced nightmare, she’s soon facing monsters, handsome princes, and evil villains with diabolical plans to take over this very scary world. Can she save the hottie, defeat the baddie, and run like hell from everything else? Some people are born with courage – Rebecca is having it thrust upon her.
“Unreality Chick” is a fast and funny 50,000 word young adult fantasy novel. I am the author of [a variety of work-for-hire things] and this is my first original novel.
Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
All of them were really good which made it incredibly hard to decide. Thank you for all the wonderful queries 🙂
1. Nathan, you're the shiz for offering this opportunity up to everyone. Thank you!
2. Kudos to the five winners (because you've won feedback at the very least)!
3. I hate to admit it, more to myself than anyone else, but craft superseded content for me. God, is that horrible? Therefore, I had to go with #5 – it read the smoothest. (Don't tell my old English teachers!) I think if I had your job, I'd be looking for easy ways to trim the fat.
I voted for UNREALITY CHICK mainly because it's the kind of book that I wouldn't be surprised to see carried around in schools by the pleasure-readers. The humor in the query and the promise of a fast pace seem good for a YA book because the YA age group is usually more likely to be on the Internet or watching tv than reading. A funny, quick paced book seems to me to like a more likely choice than others. The way Rebecca's character was described also comes off as relatable for the target readers, imho.
And I really want to know what happens 🙂
Adam Heine says
Good show, authors, for putting your work out here for us. This contest is reminding me just how subjective this whole thing is.
For the authors' sake, these were my own thoughts on the queries. Please understand that this is just MY opinion. In no way am I saying I Know What I'm Talking About:
#1 I'M A NOBODY
Sounds interesting, but the query was too vague for me to really know what happens in the story.
#2 I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY
The "last birthday" line was a really good hook, I thought. But then the query made it sound like the story was about Reid. It made me wonder who the true protagonist was and whether Presley is active at all.
This was my vote. I thought the stakes were strong, and laid out quite clearly. I have no idea how the market is for Greek mythology, but having just seen Clash of the Titans, it caught my interest.
#4 BLACK EMERALDS
The story sounded really interesting, but the query raised too many questions for me. One in particular was that Kayden's powers are dismissed as "cosmetic," but he has super strength. I feared the writing might not present things as clearly as I'd want it to. (Also, "site" should be "sight". It didn't affect my decision, but it didn't help either.)
#5 UNREALITY CHICK
While the opening is interesting, it's just setup. The actual story is in the second paragraph, and it was too vague for me to really know what the story was about. It's got a good voice though, which I probably should've paid more attention to.
There. I hope that's helpful for somebody.
Adam Heine says
Oh yeah, I forgot to say that I was really impressed with the quality of all 5 queries. If this were indicative of Nathan's typical inbox, we'd all be screwed.
Dawn Maria says
I like SHORELINE and UNREALITY CHICK best, but chose SHORELINE because of the Greek Mythology angle. Given the popularity of the Percy Jackson series, I felt SHORELINE offered a strong female protagonist for that audience.
Thank you to all five authors for sharing your work.
John Jack says
I felt like all the entries have potent audience target resonance potential. _Reality Chick_ more so, because I felt Rebecca's goals, complications, dilemma, and personality empathy potential, especially audience empathy potential, are fresher and more likely to enjoy wider audience affinity.
Kimber An says
I liked SHORELINE best, but haven't a clue if it would sell because my tastes don't follow trends. The query was specific with riveting details intertwining myth and reality. I'd review it on my book blog in a heartbeat.
Kudos to all the writers for offering up their queries and pages! I was a little disappointed when my genre wasn't picked, but now I'm hugely relieved!
Kudos to Mr. Bransford for trying to find ways to make the Query Process work better for agents and aspiring authors alike. I have absolutely no suggestions.
Never in my life have I enjoyed a YA novel (unless you count Narnia) but I really, really want to read "Unreality Chick."
Marion Sipe says
Thank you all for sharing your queries! I had a hard time deciding which one to vote for, but in the end the voice in "Unreality Chick" did it for me.
The line "Can she save the hottie, defeat the baddie, and run like hell from everything else?" cracked me up, and it seemed like it would be a funny book to read with a MC that had internal conflict along with the external.
Augustina Peach says
I agree with Wishnackha. The length of the manuscript shouldn't be an automatic disqualifier. Since Harry Potter and Twilight, we know kids aren't turned off by long books (believe it or not, my 14-year-old son just finished Shogun – Shogun!) (shaking head). I voted for BLACK EMERALDS based on the voice; to me, it stood out from the others.
I was bothered by the use of the wrong word, though.
Sarah Laurenson says
Sometimes you go looking for fate, hoping to find a path to greatness. Sometimes she breaks down your door with an apocalyptic grin and drags you out in the alley.
I voted for UNREALITY CHICK because I liked the voice so much. #4 lost me the minute I saw "site/sight" misspelled.
Now I'm dying to see the partials. But here are my reactions:
I liked that the hero of I'M A NOBODY has to look for a place where he fits in (rather than just bamfing into a world that's always been his true home), and he has to come to terms with a tainted heritage (rather than being the Destined Hero because of his special bloodline). But otherwise, there's too little that's concrete in the story synopsis. I was bothered by the phrase "a war between man and myth"–if the writer means "a war between man and mythical creatures," they should say so, because myth isn't really inimical to us; it's more like a basic human need. This makes me wonder if the world-building is as well thought out as it should be. The repeated tense shifts in the letter suggested that the novel would be carelessly written as well. I'd give it a pass.
I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY might have been more of a contender for me if the query letter had given some suggestion of the heroine as a person rather than a passive object in jeopardy. As it was, both she and the hero seemed too much like ciphers to capture my interest. I eliminated this one right away.
I was attracted by SHORELINE, especially by the setting, but couldn't get past the revelation that Maya is both a Nereid and a Siren and must either sacrifice her human love or die herself. The conflict seemed contrived, and also to be sprung out of nowhere on both the reader and the character. Probably I'm a little too close to this one to be fair to it: the Nereids that figured in my Yiayia's stories would've sacrificed a human in a heartbeat. They were really not nice!
BLACK EMERALDS sounds inventive and action-packed; the first two sentences of the cover letter are a great hook, and I liked the idea of a cocky, overconfident hero who is maybe heading for a smackdown. But I was bothered by a lack of flow in the query, and the sense of too many things being crammed into it; it apparently begins with fate breaking down the door–but no, it actually "begins with a simple fact: Phaedons exist"–but then, instead of meeting his fate, the hero is greeted at his special school by "Shades" who try to kill him, plus a girl with superpowers who's also a sadistic psycho. I got the impression that the author might be trying to cram too many things into his narrative without integrating them very well. And the sentence "His story begins with a simple fact: Phaedons exist" put me off instantly.
I ended up going with UNREALITY CHICK, like so many others, because I was drawn by a heroine who seems to be trying to take her life in her own hands and change it for the better, instead of drifting passively through it. That was instant win for me–I've seen so many, many complaints about passive heroines that I think readers are ready for a proactive one. If only she stays that way!
That said, I wish I could have asked to see partials of all of the stories, and I applaud the authors for their bravery in sharing their queries–good luck to all of you!
Sarah Scotti-Einstein says
There was a lot to recommend each query, but ultimately I chose I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY because the synopsis was so concise, so clear, that I could picture the arc of the novel. It was obvious that each author had a strong concept, but in most of them it wasn't as apparent to me that this concept translated into a well-developed plot. That this author could be so clear in her(?) query suggested to me that her book would be equally well-developed. I was also won over by the fact that this novel seemed to skirt the line between magical realism and high fantasy and interested to see how the author used her real-world setting to connect with young female readers.
These were really terrific! I had to choose between UNREALITY CHICK and I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY. When thinking of the pages beyond the letter, I fought to choose the latter. As an agent I would have requested both. Good stuff – thanks to all the brave souls for letting us peek at your goodies!!
Nicholas Johnson says
I voted for #5.
#1: I immediately ruled this one out at the first grammar mistake. I kept reading though. It seems interesting.
#2: I liked the story and the query was well written. It started off interesting. But, honestly, I ruled this one out because I had concerns about the plot. She's known Reid for a while, but only now is their love immediate and powerful? Plus, the serial killer thing didn't seem right to me. The way it seems now, he sends the mutilated picture in the summer/fall and then waits until Christmas to do anything. Then he gets caught and escapes. I was just unsure of how you'd handle that story line.
#3: I think this story sounds really interesting. The thing that made me stop was the sentence about a shocking revelation and a final horrific family secret. It just seems too over the top and cliche. I don't really know, but that sentence made me stop.
#4: I didn't vote for #4 because there's just too much information. Phaedons, ok … you explain what they are (kind of). Shades, I already have some idea of so it's fine. But then the Diotriphe family. I'm assuming they're not a normal family, but you don't go into it. Then you bring on the girl. It's too much. I couldn't follow it. The other thing I was worried about was whether Kayden actually had powers or not. You claim he does at the begining of the letter (you mostly list his good looks, but you mention superior strength). Then you say his powers are just cosmetic. Strength is not a cosmetic power. The opening was great and this query probably interests me more than the others, I was just worried about how you'd handle it.
#5: I was worried that this would be too short. I wasn't sure about using the words "hottie" and "baddie." But they fit with the voice of the query so I overlooked that. The one thing that made me pause was 'expected storm.' Either your character is suicidal or you mean 'unexpected.'
At he end, it came down to #4 or #5. I was more interested personally in 4, but 5 gave me a better sense of the story. The query for 5 was tighter, more concise, told me only what I needed to know and the voice stood out. So I voted for #5.
All of these are good, but I think voice is the vital ingredient that makes me read something and what can turn a good story into a great story (and easier to sell.)
The misspelling in Black Emeralds query bothered me, but I'd have overlooked that because of the voice and clarity with which the story was presented–but then I read Reality Chick and was enchanted with the voice. (BTW, really love the title I'd Have Loved You Anyway–wish I had a talent for titles like that.)
Lani Longshore says
All of the stories sounded interesting, so I chose based on a totally gut feeling of who might be easiest to work with (Shoreline or Black Emeralds) and the strongest voice of those two (Black Emeralds).
Interesting to note here that most people seem to basing their decision on the actual query, when we are supposed to be looking beyond the query itself and what publishers might be willing to buy. Speaking from personal experience, I know that queries don't always translate well to what's written (I don't write very good queries). So, one has to look at the story premise and probably the potential voice presented in the query itself. Voice is a particularly hard thing to get across in a query imo. In looking at these, I didn't focus so much on voice but story premise and made my decision based soley upon that. A few pages or even paragraphs will tell me if the writing is going to work. I think this may be why number five has gotten so many votes. The voice stood out compared to the others, though there really is very little in regard to the actual story. I couldn't pick this one because of that.
This was hard! They all sound great and it's so hard to get it all into one page!!
I have just one peice of feedback that stood out for #1. I liked the idea but was confused that the main character followed his friend into the other world but his own father's research holds the key to go home. I may totally have misread it but I know when I meet with my critique partners, I'm sometimes (ok, often) amazed at what I mean and what they read.
Good luck with all of these.thanks for sharing.
OK, I have another comment – Black Emeralds I LOVED your opening sentence, that was awesome!
The Zuccini says
1: This sentence doesn't' make sense to me: "He soon learns that the reasons behind the war are more complex than man’s fear of the supernatural." When I read the query without it, I didn't feel like I missed anything. What he is makes me curious to read, but it also left me asking, why not just tell us? If I'm an agent I'm not going to find out in the first pages so this might deter me. That said, I chose number one.
2. Too me the tension feels displaced.The "boy" in question just happens to be a hero and the conflict seems to revolve around his duty to save her. I'm not sure if the book is about the boy or the girl.
3. I was lost at beautiful, which isn't fair, but whenever the MC is beautiful a thousand cliche's come to mind. However, when you start talking moving to Main, I really like the ideas presented here.
4. Based on the first two paragraphs I thought this was going to be on the humorous side. I didn't not expect paragraph three or the tone switch.
5. The opening made me think of the plot to "How Opal Metha Got Kissed." But I liked falling into another world.
The second paragraph doesn't tell us what's stake. I assume the MC wants to go home, but maybe she wants to be queen? Either way, I wonder why she must defeat the bad guy and save hottie? If it's a comedy I would say that instead of saying it's funny. But maybe I'm shaving hairs there.
Steph Su says
#1 had my favorite first line, #2 my favorite first paragraph. But overall, I think I'm going to go with UNREALITY CHICK for this experiment. That one's unique voice stood out to me the most.
India Drummond says
Although I didn't think it was the best *query* (I must say all 5 were of a very high standard though), I thought UNREALITY CHICK sounded like the most promising novel.
It seemed original and full of energy, and the voice was clear and appealing.
So, this one got my vote!
Thanks to everyone who offered pages and queries for this contest! Nathan sure does know how to put on a party!
Ted Cross says
I'm kind of surprised that so many are voting based upon what interested them. I had little interest in the one I picked (#1), but chose it because I felt it could possibly sell better than the others (if the book is written well enough). Even if the others had better voice, I didn't see them as potentially big sellers.
For random picks, these five were much better than I would have expected. Kudos to all the writers for having the guts to put their work out there.
I WOULD HAVE LOVED YOU ANYWAY is a great title for that plotline. That won my vote because it was the most compelling story. If it's well-written, my guess is publishers would jump at it.
About #5, which is winning the poll, I agree with the posters who said 1) calling your work funny was a turnoff 2) 50,000 is short but mostly 3) the plot description was far too basic and generic. What is it about?
BTW, I don't read the genre of the one I picked (paranormal romance).
Janet Brinton says
What put Unreality Chick over the top? The author's writing credentials. I figured if she's been successfully writing for others, she might just know how to put a story together. Worth looking at the pages anyway to find out.
Ishta Mercurio says
Great queries! And many, many thanks to those who submitted.
I was torn between I'M A NOBODY and BLACK EMERALDS, but the voice in UNREALITY CHICK really grabbed me, so I voted for that one.
Interesting thought: I'm a woman. A brief skim of the first couple of dozen comments indicates that others who voted for UNREALITY CHICK are women as well. If I were a man, would I have been as drawn to the idea of this book, or would I have chosen I'M A NOBODY or BLACK DIAMONDS instead? Nathan, will we ever find out which one you would have picked?
I would probably have picked all 3, to be honest, if I were really an agent, and then I'd be up to my eyeballs.
I can't wait for Stage Two!
All great queries (I'd better up my game…)
I thought that Black Emerald was the best written query, but I actually voted for Shoreline. I felt it had the most original premise.
Kate Evangelista says
I picked the wrong one. Although, Unreality Chick does have something there.
Congrats to the plucky five, and to everyone who submitted.
I feel a bit of a fraud voting, as I don't really read YA, but as a fantasy fan I suppose I can cast some kind of vote.
I went for I'M A NOBODY, but I guess we'll see if my choice in vindicated come tomorrow.
Two Flights Down says
It was really hard to choose one. Thank you everyone for putting your stuff out there for this. All of the stories seem intriguing and have a bit of originality to them.
It was hard to choose just one, but the one I finally chose, I chose because of the voice, and the fact that I felt like it was something I could be passionate about enough to work my butt off trying to sell it.
I was taken by the charm and potential of query number one – I Am Nobody. I think this query might lead to a story with an engaging hero who grows with the story and an epic plot that would entice many teenagers. (Hence the popularity of that YA book recently made into a hit movie with Greek mythological characters called Percy Jackson and The Olympians.) Perhaps future publishers might view a story that lives up to the query potential this way too.
Richmond Writer says
I voted for Shoreline because I think she has a conflict here that will carry the entire novel: stand by duty or venture into love. The stakes are more than her falling in love, there is a tangible (rather than The End of the World) loss which is the death of marine life. Presumably Persephone is killing the marine life to force Maya to do her bidding. I see a lot of potential conflict as Maya must untangle the motivations of all these strong willed characters- parents, goddess, lover, and her own desires.
Thanks to everyone who had the guts to enter their query. They all sounded intriguing.
Nicole L Rivera says
It was a hard choice but I went with Author #2. It reminds me of Beautiful Creatures, a book I greatly enjoyed.
Interesting – the two books I was torn between (Unreality Chick & I am Nobody) are currently first and last in the voting. Does this mean I have a split personality?
Jennifer Spiller says
I went with Unreality Chick because the query was the most exciting. It had a great voice and was very clear.
However, I think the setup for Shoreline is the book I would most be interested in reading. I thought the letter had structure issues, was too wordy and read more like a first draft than a polished query. It made me think the book probably needed another editing pass before being sent out. Still, if the query were cleaned up, I would request this one if I were an agent.
They're all good, but I kept coming back to Black Emeralds.
The pitch line made me smile.
Well done and best of luck to all the participants 🙂
My first thought is that I love that all of these queries are short and to the point. It makes each one easy and quick to read. All five are well written and provide exactly what is needed to make a decision. Well done! I’m drawn to the last one, UNREALITY CHICK, because Author #5’s voice comes through loud and clear. The tone screams YA into my ears and the struggles of the main character are exactly what young ladies struggle with daily—insecurity, identity, judgment and stepping out of their comfort zones. It’s soaked in magic, mystery, struggle, and FUN! My favorite line, the one that got me, is “Can she save the hottie, defeat the baddie, and run like hell from everything else?” Fantastic and a strong potential to sell, sell, sell!
I thought I'd be interested in the author's credentials, but what got me was their hook and how well it was presented (a key to their writing, I guess)
Also this was a reality check for someone like me who just finished a YA fantasy. I knew there was a glut in the market but yikes! Lots of good stuff out there.
Kim Batchelor says
I agree, these are all well-written queries with intriguing hooks. The challenge is being certain of what this age group reads (about which I have some data) and would read that's not already on the market. Without the latter, I'll vote on the one I like best…after some further and careful consideration.
Shoreline looks to be my pony in this race.
Fawn Neun says
I chose #4 because it seemed to be the most original storyline and the voice was strong. Although the query itself could have been better organized and the word-length was a tad long, it seemed to me that a strong hands-on editorial agent would find this particular author a good long-term client with excellent future projects.
Some of the other query letters were better organized, but I felt that #4 might result in a novel with a really intriguing narrative voice.
I also felt it would appeal to a broader audience, both girls and boys and I understand that boy's adventure stories are particularly popular in the UK and a bit scant in the US. I think it would fill a very obvious niche in the market.
Elizabeth S says
These are all much better than what I'm used to seeing in agent-blog query contests. Nice work, all of you.
I voted for Shoreline – it's the one I'd be most interested in reading and therefore I'd be more convincing when I tried to sell it. That said, I see why Unreality Chick is (currently) winning by a landslide – that query has voice.
Heidi J. Johns says
First, kudos to these brave souls who were willing to be publicly scrutinized. Each book has its own strengths, and I hope each gets picked up by an agent soon (if they haven’t already).
Next, I’ve been hanging out at Authonomy (a HarperCollins’ site) for the last three months – looking at pitches, reading books from lots of different genres, commenting on them, pitching my own book – and I’ve been amazed by the amount of undiscovered talent out there and of the work (and brain power) that must go into being an agent. Especially when you hang the “I have to make a living at this” piece on it.
I’ve also been surprised by which books have drawn me in. It always has to do with the voice. And my saying, “Dude, you can write.” I can overlook a typo or two. I can overlook length (besides, any writer worth his/her salt will listen to an editor and cut/add/fix as needed.).
But you can’t teach talent.
Therefore, I chose Black Emeralds, because, “Dude (or Dude-ette), you can write!”
First off I'd like to say congrats to everyone that is done with their book and were able to submit queries and samples. I'm jealous. I still have a ways to go. Secondly, YA Fantasy is not my genre of choice. That being said…
"Unreality Chick" got my vote. The line- "Some people are born with courage – Rebecca is having it thrust upon her."- got my attention. I thought the story seemed original and if the style of the query is an indication of they way the author wrote the book (I'm assuming it's similar) I think I will enjoy it.
If we could have 2 votes i would have added "I'm A Nobody". The thing that concerned me a bit as an "agent" was that it sounded like a very similar idea to "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe". I'm not sure how that plays out in the real publishing world but it seems like it might be a hard sell to be compared to a classic like that. I would definitely want to read it (and look forward to doing so today) to see how the author plays it out but if I only had one choice (as we do in this experiment) I would have to pass.
I voted for #5, in part because it mentions right up front that the heroine has flaws — that she's a bit of a fraidy-cat. When I was a kid, I liked reading books about people who (like me) weren't perfect, but who managed to overcome that. The heroine of #5 seems to have the most relatable character arc of the queries mentioned, and I suspect that would translate into sales. (Plus, it sounds like a book I'd enjoy reading.)
Kathryn Leigh says
My vote went out to Unreality Check. I liked that we got information about Rebecca's fears & desires without reading through a summary of the plot. Character-driven stories appeal to me more than plot-driven ones.