With Pitch Wars right around the corner, several mentors have decided to share their successful query letters. Since I’ve never shared mine, I thought this was a perfect time. There are definitely things I would change if I were querying now, but this is the exact wording that led to a request from my agent which in turn led to an offer of representation (you can read about my querying journey in my post: How I Got My Agent as told by Fresh Prince gifs and if you want to read about how I got my first book deal, check out my post: Selling My Debut Novel to Harlequin Teen).
I sent the following query to Kim Lionetti from BookEnds Literary Agency on May 12th, 2015. This query was for my debut novel If I Fix You. It went through a number of different titles, but it was originally titled Starry Starry Night.
Dear Ms. Lionetti,
I hope you’ll be interested in my contemporary YA novel, STARRY, STARRY NIGHT, which is complete at 81,000 words.
Even though it’s another sweltering summer in Arizona, sixteen-year-old Jill Whitaker can’t remember the last night she spent under her roof instead of on it. Some things, like her parent’s constant fighting, are more oppressive than heat. Not even the prospect of fixing up her dream car, a 1970 Spitfire, with her dad can make her happy for long. And she’s definitely not smiling at her best friend and crush, Sean, after she catches her mom wrapped around him. Jill’s left with a post-it goodbye note from her mom, a suddenly cryptic dad, and a strained Sean. Meeting her neighbor, Daniel, a guy with a scarred past and an even more toxic home life than hers, shouldn’t change anything, but it does.
When Jill intervenes one night after Daniel’s mom hurls a lamp at his head, they become each other’s escape. During the day, she runs cross-country and loses herself under cars in her dad’s shop. At night, the first flickers of an impossible romance kindle while she and Daniel count stars and scars. But the more time she spends with Daniel over that long, hot summer, the more Jill realizes that escaping hurts more than confronting her life. Especially when Daniel’s inexplicable love for his mom forces Jill to deal with her own. Facing her life head on means learning that the father she idolizes isn’t perfect after all. Sean may have an explanation for what happened with her mom. And hatred, no matter how justified, is the hardest thing to escape of all.
Full of heartbreak and humor, STARRY, STARRY NIGHT will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen and Rainbow Rowell. I’ve spent a lot of time with my target audience working as a teen counselor, high school drama teacher, and more recently as blogger/reviewer and social media head for [redacted publisher].
Thank you so much for your consideration.
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