Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: Please don't get mad at the library if every copy of their children's biographies on Harriet Tubman are checked out when you know 50 kids at the local elementary school all have to do the same assignment of reading a biography about Harriet Tubman.
Thank you so much Julie for sending in your query for a critique! I hope this feedback is helpful to you and to our readers. I know the past two weeks of query crits have been helpful to me!
Here is Julie's query:
Dear Agent Name,
Aillie has the spirit of a wolf, even if her failing heart is weakening her human body. It’s no wonder her presence causes a stir when her father decides to take her home to live with his wolf clan in Scotland. They don’t tolerate women, and certainly not human ones.
When she tries to find solace and solitude in the hills above MacTire Loch all she ends up finding is a cocky member of the neighboring clan. Colin is all alpha and the future laird. He’s also her father’s worst nightmare. Or so he thinks.
Aillie's true enemies won’t be found in the rivaling wolf clan though. The ones who’ll stop at nothing to see her dead are much closer to home. Aillie and Colin will have to put aside their clashing alpha personalities to fight against history, myths and bitter old wolves if she’ll have any chance at life.
THE VOICE is a 47,000 word Paranormal YA.
This is a simultaneous query submission. Thank you for considering my manuscript for further review.
My [contact] info here
What is great about this query:
1. I get a nice set of the setting. Scotland! Cool!
2. There are multiple conflicts -- Aillie's failing heart, the disrespect from her clan, the tension with the rival clan, the people/wolves/creatures Aillie must battle to survive -- which keeps the tension high and makes me think the novel itself keeps moving at a good pace.
3. The writing is really good! I like the voice and the way the paragraphs flow together with great transitions, so it makes me think the writing of the novel is high quality as well.
What I would suggest:
1. Combine the first two paragraphs into a shorter intro one (while keeping the great voice!), and then elaborate on what the "real" danger is that Aillie and Colin must band together to fight. While the first two paras are the emotional arc of the story, the latter para is the important external quest and that is important.
Tangental YA Librarian ramble :) -- There are a lot of paranormal YAs featuring wolves out there now (besides TWILIGHT (Meyer) and SHIVER (Stiefvater), there's recent releases like the DARK GUARDIAN series (Hawthorne), RAISED BY WOLVES series (Barnes), NIGHTSHADE series (Cremer), SISTERS RED (Pearce), 13 TO LIFE series (Delaney), CLAIRE DE LUNE series (Johnson), etc. ). It doesn't mean this book doesn't have merit or its own twist! Just that the query will have to hit on its unique points (like Scotland!) and showcase them in order to get an agent's/editor's/bookseller's/librarian's attention so they don't think it's something they already have enough of on their list. In other words, those who are querying wolf (of vampire/zombie/dystopian/faerie) books now have to work a little harder to get attention.
2. The title THE VOICE now makes me think of that TV show "The Voice;" might want to consider a more unique title/something with pow or a Scottish feel to drive home that this is a MUST READ book. :)
3. Before the sentence about this query being a multiple submission, add something personal about yourself, even if it's not a publishing credit: that you like baking/biking/painting/running/etc., to give yourself some personality.
Overall, I think this query is a great start! Any feedback from our readers?
Thanks again to everyone for making our query clinic week a success!
Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing