Query Critique #17

Today’s query looks at a YA LGBT contemporary and asks the author to consider what a title does to imply a plot point when the query doesn’t show it.

Submitted Query:

Dear Natasha,

I saw on your website that you’re interested in YA novels, particularly those with LGBTQIA characters and/or #ownvoices. With that in mind, I thought you would be interested in REINVENTED, a contemporary YA #ownvoices novel (complete at XX,XXX words). (Nice personalization 🙂 If and only if you are comfortable, consider sharing what makes it #ownvoices for you. ) 

Semi-closeted high school senior Saladino Arbon (who prefers being called D, because who wants a stupid long name like Saladino) tries to be a normal guy.  (while what you have in paraphrases is voicey, you don’t refer to Saladino as D throughout the rest of your query, so I’d cut it.) Sure, his immediate family and his best friends know he’s into guys, but to the rest of the school, he’s the captain of the cross country team: generally well-liked, if a tad nerdy, and ready to carry the team to states this year.  (This is a really long sentence. Maybe break it up or cut the generally and nerdy bit and say …cross country team ready to carry them to states this year.) No one else needs to know anything else about him. (Feels redundant) Everything (I’d cut Everything and say ‘All that’ because it flows better) changes when the most obnoxious popular girl in school sexually assaults him at a party. 

By Monday, his assailant has made sure everyone knows he’s gay, and he doesn’t hesitate to let them know how she found out. In a place where assault on women is covered up and assault on men doesn’t exist, admitting what happened means accepting he’s a survivor. (not sure this sentence is needed. maybe consider cutting it to give the following sentence more impact) Every instinct tells Saladino to act like nothing happened as he spirals into a guilt-fueled depression. Graduation, his chance to escape this hell, feels more and more distant as every day becomes a fight to keep living. (Your title makes me think Saladino has to reinvent himself now that the school knows he’s gay, but your query doesn’t really lead into that. You end with him fighting depression and the fact that graduation seems far away and that he has to fight to stay alive, but readers don’t really see how he chooses to reinvent himself. IF this is what he does –reinvent himself–consider showing the reader that in the query. Just a thought.)

Coming in just shy of 95,000 words, (round to the nearest thousand, so if your novel is 94,685 say it’s 95,000 words). REINVENTED may appeal (be certain of your novel, don’t say may say will) to readers who enjoy Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, Michael Thomas Ford’s Suicide Notes, and Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind Of a Funny Story. (when giving comps it’s author followed by title and the title is in italics and since you mentioned the book information at the top, you might want to provide all of this information then or move it all to the bottom. I personally, like it at the bottom so the agent can make up their mind about your query before you tell them why you are querying them, etc. but it’s personal preference.) 

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sounds like a story that needs to be told! Revise and resubmit if interested. 

What Are Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.