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Death of a Siren (YA Fiction)I'm working on getting an agent for my newest novel. It's a super strong YA book, but I'm having trouble with the Query. Help!


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#1 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:17 PM

I'm working on getting an agent for my newest novel. It's a super strong YA book, but I'm having trouble with the Query. Help!

So far, I have the following:


High school student Katie Bunny has been given a second chance at life. But here’s the catch: she only has thirty days to do everything she’s always wanted, all the while fighting off wraiths threatening to buy her soul and a companion sent to watch over her so she doesn’t spill the beans. Can she achieve her ultimate goal, or will she die again before it’s too late?
Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has made the mistake of getting into a car with a very popular, very intoxicated classmate, and she’s paid for it with her life. But after waking up in “Purgatory”, she’s told she’ll get a second chance at life. The catch is, the second chance expires in thirty days. With the help of her incessant companion from another dimension, Martin Krane, Katie fights off wraiths requesting to buy her soul, becomes versed in some very bizarre truths about life and death, and discovers things about herself that could change her fate. Can Katie overcome her shyness, conflict phobia, and fear of intimacy to achieve her ultimate goal?
Even as a teen, I wrote and illustrated my own short stories. My first full-length novel came when I was just sixteen. With the help of a friend, I created four characters very near and dear to my heart. Clay, Seth, Keira, and Aisha have made it into my books in one way or another over the past ten years; they refuse to die or even take a break. In 2010, I wrote A Cure for the Condition, a full-length Historical Fiction novel about a young queen thrown into adulthood. The novel will be published in June 2012 under Whiskey Creek Press. Its direct sequel, A Cure for the Past, is being released in October 2012. I already have a decent following of fans dedicated to the book, and anticipate a well-accepted release. Currently, A Cure for the Condition is also being reviewed as a film script with a producer in Los Angeles. With assisted publicity and a supportive publisher, my books will be well-known and adored by many.
I thank you very much for taking the time to read my query letter. My full manuscript is available upon request; it is 64,074 words in length, 243 pages, double-spaced.

It's also attached for reference. So far, I've gotten 9 rejections without even a criticism. Can someone help?

Author of A Cure for the Condition

Impossible Love with Real Characters

facebook.com/amycroall

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#2 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 07:36 PM

Okay, where to begin...where to begin.

Your hook is a mini-synopsis that makes the rest of the letter pointless. It's a great elevator pitch though. So save it for later.

Your second paragraph is a back cover blurb. Cute, but I think you can do better.

Finally, your last paragraph is WAY too long and not quite formatted in the preferred way. Word counts are rounded. Titles are in all caps, and backstory to your writing should be strictly professional.

I'm a hook girl. So here's my suggestion.

Start with this or something like it:

Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has only thirty days to accomplish everything she's ever wanted. Or she'll die. Again.

Katie makes the mistake of getting into a car with a very popular, very intoxicated classmate, and she pays for it with her life. But after waking up in “Purgatory”, she’s told she’ll get a second chance at life. The catch is, the second chance expires in thirty days. With the help of her incessant companion from another dimension, Martin Krane, Katie fights off wraiths requesting to buy her soul...[INSERT MORE HERE SPECIFIC STUFF HERE. IT'S TOO VAGUE AS IS, ALSO DON'T TELL US ABOUT HER PERSONALITY, WORK IT IN HERE AND SHOW US. THAT WILL HELP A LOT.]

DEATH OF A SIREN is a 64,000-word YA paranormal. My full manuscript is available upon request.

My historical novel, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION, will be published in June 2012 under Whiskey Creek Press. Its direct sequel, A CURE FOR THE PAST, is being released in October 2012. Currently, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION is also being reviewed as a film script with a producer in Los Angeles.

I thank you very much for taking the time to read my query letter.


Then you can make it your own and make it more awesome. You've got all your word count in the wrong places.

Oh, yeah, and tell us what her ultimate goal is. Duh. (to me, not to you.) That should not be withheld. We need to know the STAKES for her.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#3 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:19 PM

The agency I'm working with that's helping me write the query letter says I should have a 3-5 page synopsis. They also had me completely rewrite the entire query letter. I'll post it in a minute, but are you sure that such a simple hook will work? I mean, I've heard they should be a few sentences at least!

Thanks for your help! I don't mind you being blunt; I prefer it.

Author of A Cure for the Condition

Impossible Love with Real Characters

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#4 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:23 PM

Oh yes! I'm very sure. For an agent, short can be awesome. But you can tweak it a bit more.

Synopsis length varies by agent preference. 3-5 is a good one. I'm talking about a mini-synopsis though, or an elevator pitch. Something you can tell to an agent or anyone you meet so they immediately know what your book is about and who the main character is.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#5 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:24 PM

Here's the letter the agency asked me to write (minus the reviews which I have yet to add). Sorry it's long:



Death of a Siren is a 65,000 word Young Adult Fiction novel set in Present Day.


Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has made the mistake of getting into a car with a very popular, very intoxicated classmate, and she’s paid for it with her life. But after waking up in “Purgatory”, she’s told she’ll get a second chance at life. The catch is, the second chance expires in thirty days. With the help of her incessant companion from another dimension, Martin Krane, Katie fights off wraiths requesting to buy her soul, becomes versed in some very bizarre truths about life and death, and discovers things about herself that could change her fate. Can Katie overcome her shyness, conflict phobia, and fear of intimacy to achieve her ultimate goal, or will she die again before it’s too late?


At the tender age of twenty-six, I am already a break-out in the literary world. In 2010, I wrote A Cure for the Condition, the first in a series of novels about a young queen thrown into adulthood. It will be published in June under Whiskey Creek Press. I already have a decent following of fans dedicated to the book, and anticipate a well-accepted release. Currently, A Cure for the Condition is also being reviewed as a film script with a producer in Los Angeles. With assisted publicity and a supportive publisher, my books will be well-known and adored by many.


Death of a Siren is the first book in a series, already replete with stellar reviews. I’ve already run several Facebook ads as well as campaigns with other authors in my field, which have reached many. I am the founding member of “The Few, The Proud, The 238” – a Facebook group of many other struggling authors which is quickly growing. We are all quite supportive of each other and intend to stretch our marketing reach as far as possible.


Include up to 3 short review excerpts.

Unfortunately, I do not have any yet.


Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Amy Croall











Katie Bunny is just like any other seventeen-year-old. Every morning, she gets up, she brushes her teeth, and she wears the same clothes as everyone else. There’s only one difference between Katie and her peers – she’s about to die.
Death of a Siren begins with Katie’s monologue about her life so far. She talks about her high school experience as one of “torture and ridicule”. Her main goal was to have a big solo in choir to show off her voice, only it was axed at the last minute by the teacher. After that, she gave up trying – until her senior year.
Thirteen days before Katie’s eighteenth birthday, she gets into a car with an intoxicated classmate. When Sam Preston takes both eyes off the road, the car collides with a tree, killing Katie on impact.
When Katie wakes up, she finds herself stranded on a beach – her rendition of Purgatory. She sees a friend from the past – Mandy – who also died at a young age. Mandy explains to Katie that when people die, their bodies cease to exist, but their knowledge and energy are translated to the next phase of existence. And as long as a person has gained a significant knowledge from their life, they will pass onto the next stage. Those who haven’t are allowed an extra bonus life. Katie is one of those who hasn’t.
Once Katie is startled into life again, she comes close to spilling the beans to an anonymous student and her favorite teacher, Mr. Carter. But just as she’s about to tell everything, Martin Krane –a being from an alternate dimension sent to watch over her – falls into her life. Unfortunately for Katie, Martin is instructed to follow her everywhere.
At a party, Katie meets “Irish Moses”; a stranger with an irresistible accent, bright red hair, and deep green eyes. He asks Katie for a trade – she’s supposed to give him something important in exchange for him “taking care of her pesky virginity problem”. Fortunately, Martin interjects before she can sign the deal.
Katie comes to find out that “Irish Moses” is a wraith. Wraiths sell souls to anyone who can afford to buy them. Some people have rare souls; in the third dimension, rare souls can be healers, clairvoyants, psychics, etc. But people who have naturally occurring rare souls don’t always know it. And those who buy them have to exchange their own. When someone who buys a rare soul dies, they are owned by the wraith, and, in turn, the wraith consumes their bodies’ energy. Katie is instructed to run whenever she sees a wraith so Martin can banish it – releasing its soul back from where it came.
Katie learns that she will be performing a duet with Martin for the New Year Choir Concert. At first, she is weary, but quickly becomes accustomed to singing in front of others. However, she notices that Martin seems to have a bit of “stage fright”.
Katie and Martin become a tag-team when another wraith takes over her dreams. Together, they discover and fight off two wraiths. Even though the wraiths threaten Katie’s livelihood, the battles awaken a passion between Martin and her. The two become a couple just a few days before Katie’s birthday.
But when Martin “kidnaps” Katie to take her to her favorite beach, “Irish Moses” returns, brandishing the fact that her parents will suffer when she’s gone. And he’ll take care of their pain if she only gives him what he wants. She refuses, shutting him out and humming a song to herself to soothe her nerves. Finally, he leaves.
On Christmas Day, Katie discovers that her favorite teacher is a wraith. Or rather, he was one. Mr. Carter is retired; non-practicing. She learns that he quit after gaining the body and emotions of one of his victims. Katie makes a deal with Mr. Carter to watch over her parents after she’s gone, to which he agrees. She also learns that he is able to recognize souls and sense when wraiths are near. And so, Mr. Carter becomes Katie and Martin’s “lookout”.
The day before Katie’s death, Martin fights a powerful wraith that wounds him. Katie takes care of him, nursing him with a hot shower and a comfortable bed. The two nearly give in to their hormones, but are interrupted. Instead, they spend one last night in each other’s arms.
At the New Year Choir Concert, Martin is nowhere to be found, so Katie performs the entire solo by herself, gaining a standing ovation from her classmates. When she is recruited to find Martin for an explanation, she interrupts his deep conversation with “Irish Moses”.
From her eavesdropping, Katie learns that Martin owes the wraith something. When she begins humming to herself, the wraith is temporarily frozen. In that moment, Katie learns she has a rare soul; she is a Siren. She sings to subdue him, and Martin banishes his soul.
Once “Irish Moses” is gone, Katie slips to her knees as her last breaths escape her. The final chapter ends with her dying in Martin’s arms as he tells her he sold his soul to the wraith to heal someone he loved. And when that person died, he refused to collect. As Katie slips into oblivion, Martin tells her he is in love with her.
In the epilogue of Death of a Siren, Katie wakes up in her body on the endless beach of Purgatory. She is angry, and when she sees Mandy, she wonders why she didn’t pass on when she’d done everything they asked. The book ends with Mandy telling Katie they had made a mistake; she wasn’t supposed to die.

Author of A Cure for the Condition

Impossible Love with Real Characters

facebook.com/amycroall

www.amycroall.com

amycroall.blogspot.com

#6 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:24 PM

Wait...an AGENCY is helping you with your query letter? I hope you're not paying them for that.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#7 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:25 PM

Should I include the mini synopsis in the query letter since I have the full synopsis?

No, I'm not. It's just to help.

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Impossible Love with Real Characters

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#8 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:29 PM

Huh? No...it's for elevator pitching and meeting people. Your query letter should be a query letter. And the synopsis should ONLY be included if an agent asks for it.

I don't think they are helping...

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#9 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:36 PM

I do my research before submitting. I don't submit a synopsis or sample chapters unless asked. So, I took some of your advice and tweaked the letter again. Please let me know what you think.



Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has only thirty days to accomplish everything she's ever wanted. Or she'll die. Again.

DEATH OF A SIREN is a 64,000-word YA paranormal. My full manuscript is available upon request.

My historical novel, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION, will be published in June 2012 under Whiskey Creek Press. Its direct sequel, A CURE FOR THE PAST, is being released in October 2012. Currently, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION is also being reviewed as a film script with a producer in Los Angeles.


“Katie Bunny and Martin Krane complement each other in their quest and personal love life. After finishing DEATH OF A SIREN, I felt much like I do with other great books – I wanted more.” – Amazon.com Review


“DEATH OF A SIREN has riveting, humorous and romantic attributes that keeps you on your toes.” – B&N.com Review


“Amy Croall does a fabulous job using descriptor’s for visualizing the setting.” – Goodreads.com Review

I thank you very much for taking the time to read my query letter.


Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Amy Croall

Author of A Cure for the Condition

Impossible Love with Real Characters

facebook.com/amycroall

www.amycroall.com

amycroall.blogspot.com

#10 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:37 PM

Lol, obviously my reviewers aren't writers. There's some typos that need to be fixed, but do you think adding reviews within the letter is a good idea?

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#11 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:38 PM

wait...that's not what I...I'm making it worse. I'm sorry.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#12 RC Lewis

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:38 PM

Hi, acroall.

I don't know who these people are that are "helping" with your query letter, but frankly, they're giving you some odd advice.

(You'll want to edit your contact info out of post #5. We're mostly nice people here, but this is an open forum so anyone on the internet can find it.)

That letter in post #5 is full of no-nos. Saying something like, "I am already a break-out in the literary world," makes agents reach for the auto-reject button. The way Tansy suggested cutting your bio down is perfect. Mention publishing credits simply--title, release date, publisher. (If something that's already been published AND you have some impressive sales numbers, you can include those.)

But the query should be MOSTLY about the story. It's not about you. It's about the story, and the writing therein. Tansy was spot-on with her hook suggestion as well. It's supposed to grab attention and interest, then lead into the rest of the query. You don't want it to feel repetitive/redundant.

Also, there's a separate forum here if you'd like critiques on your full synopsis.

One thing about the query itself ... I'd take the quotes off "Purgatory." It makes it look like you're doing some kind of "wink-wink" thing that's ambiguous and hard to interpret.

Keep at it. Query writing is tough stuff, and there's a ton of help around here. :smile:
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#13 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:38 PM

No, I don't think it's a good idea. Not unless they are well-known names. Also contact information goes at the end in a query letter, and never in a thread like this. That's just a bad idea on the Internet.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#14 TansyRagwort

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:40 PM

Okay, you do need A mini-synopsis in your query letter. I was talking specifically about your first paragraph. You need something in there about your story. I'm sorry...I should let someone else explain this. Like RC. She did a fine job. She's a mod.

http://www.immortali...ify.php?book=25

http://www.immortali...books.php?id=25

 

THE IMPENDING DEMISE OF THE GIRL WITH BROWN EYES coming Dec 2013 from Immortal Ink Publishing.


#15 RC Lewis

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:40 PM

Ack, cross-posted with you guys.

#9 is a big NO.

Where's the story?

Tansy gave you a great skeleton to start with here, just make it your own:

Seventeen-year-old Katie Bunny has only thirty days to accomplish everything she's ever wanted. Or she'll die. Again.

Katie makes the mistake of getting into a car with a very popular, very intoxicated classmate, and she pays for it with her life. But after waking up in “Purgatory”, she’s told she’ll get a second chance at life. The catch is, the second chance expires in thirty days. With the help of her incessant companion from another dimension, Martin Krane, Katie fights off wraiths requesting to buy her soul...[INSERT MORE HERE SPECIFIC STUFF HERE. IT'S TOO VAGUE AS IS, ALSO DON'T TELL US ABOUT HER PERSONALITY, WORK IT IN HERE AND SHOW US. THAT WILL HELP A LOT.]

DEATH OF A SIREN is a 64,000-word YA paranormal. My full manuscript is available upon request.

My historical novel, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION, will be published in June 2012 under Whiskey Creek Press. Its direct sequel, A CURE FOR THE PAST, is being released in October 2012. Currently, A CURE FOR THE CONDITION is also being reviewed as a film script with a producer in Los Angeles.

I thank you very much for taking the time to read my query letter.


Also, those reviews ... are you saying that DEATH OF A SIREN has already been published? (Self-published?) If so, you need to be clear about that, and you need to know that unless you've sold thousands of copies, agents likely won't be interested in that *particular* ms. (That's not to say they won't be interested in another ms that hasn't yet been published.)
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#16 RC Lewis

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:44 PM

Amy, my first, main suggestion would be to read a BUNCH of queries in the forums here, including in the Examples of Successful Queries forum. Get a good feel for the format and flow of them.
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#17 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:48 PM

Maybe I'm just not cut out for this in the long run? :-/ Self-publishing may be my only route...

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#18 RC Lewis

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:52 PM

Whoa, you only just started! This is a process ... above all, a LEARNING process.
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#19 Amy Croall

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:54 PM

I'm good at the writing part (at least, I THINK I am), but condensing and showing personality in one paragraph that an agent will like? I don't know...

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#20 RC Lewis

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Posted 29 March 2012 - 08:55 PM

You've got roughly 250 words or so. You can do it. Like I said, Tansy gave you a great starting-off point. Take that and play with it for a while.
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