Meet my Hatchet of Death (or, some other colorful description RC Lewis and I come up with at any given moment). This is how I edit myself, it is how I edit others. If you think you want to play with me and my hatchet, shoot us an email.
We all know the first line of a query is your “hook.” I call the last line the “sinker.” You want it to punch them in the face, in a nice, friendly kind of way that makes them unable to forget you after having read the 300 other queries in their inbox.
If you’re looking for query advice, but are slightly intimidated by my claws, blade, or just my rolling googly-eyes, check out the query critique boards over at AgentQueryConnect. This is where I got my start, with advice from people smarter than me. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with the most critical first step of your writing journey – the query. My comments appear in green.
Ivy, James, and AJ are used to the abnormal. Demons, monsters, witches – they have seen them all. They are Protectors, charged with the responsibility of maintaining the balance of good and evil in an ever-waging war. But when a mysterious grimoire shows up, an unknown threat emerges, poised to destroy everything and everyone they hold dear. This is well written enough, but the problem is that this is very generic – a war of good against evil. This particular story has been told – you need to be clear what the unknown threat is in order to make yours stand out in a sea of similar plots.
A grimoire is an ancient spell book, but unlike most, this one is a bound grimoire, said to have demonic powers and able to latch onto the soul of a reader. It is so powerful that it can tear holes between earth and hell. With this kind of book in play, the Protectors must find it and incapacitate it.
While the grimoire seems to pose the largest threat, Ivy and the others soon discover that an even greater threat looms, the Phoenixes. Who they are is uncertain. What is certain is that unexplained disappearances, deaths, and attacks only spell trouble. What makes the Phoenixes special? What is their power / character? Again, unexplained attacks on the good by the bad is very basic plot structure executed time and time again.
Armed with innate gifts like what? What makes them different from other paranormal good guys in the genre?, the Protectors must combat an unknown enemy before the situation explodes. Ivy struggles to keep herself in control when she realizes that the Phoenixes are after her, trying to recruit her by any means necessary. She and the others must prepare for this danger even though it is hard to discern where and when the next attack is coming.
THE PROTECTORS is a complete young adult fantasy manuscript at 69,000 words. It is designed to be the first book in a trilogy. This is my first novel. I am a graduate of the University of Mississippi where I received a B.A. in religion and attained the Evan Harrington Scholarship Award for Writing.
Overall, this is a well written query, but the problem is that it is also vague. Everything you’re saying could be theoretically about any number of YA paranormals. You need to get the specifics of what makes your book different from them into this query in order to stand out.