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.
I am seeking representation for my YA historical fiction, THE STONE INHERITANCE. I chose to submit to you because I read on [insert personal agenty stuff here]. Complete at 77,000 words, THE STONE INHERITANCE might fit your wish list. Good job with this para. Usually I say start with the hook, but you’ve done a good job of putting together the personalized presentation so I say stick with it.
England, 1912. Eighteen-year-old Estella has lived most of her life in near solitude, friend to no one, when she is delivered shocking news: she has inherited her beloved grandfather’s vast island manor nearly a decade after his death. So she received it upon turning 18… this would be an easier way to phrase this, less complicated of a sentence. He leaves her but one message: “Trust me.” But trust is not a word in her vocabulary, and rightly so, because Estella overhears the estate’s enigmatic attorney, Edward Maxwell, maliciously plotting to con her out of her inheritance. But if trust isn’t a word in her vocabulary, it applies to more than just the attorney. Does she trust her grandfather? She must discover the real reason behind her grandfather’s cryptic
intensions sp: intentions before she falls victim to his scandal. Whose scandal? Her grandfather’s or Edward’s? And how is a scandal involved?
In the depths of a secluded forest, Estella discovers a verdant, celestial glen and gorge a glen and a gorge are two different things inhabited by a community of Irish fugitives, whom she learns harbor old secrets about her grandfather. As the Irish teach Estella to love and trust, she begins to understand who her grandfather was – and how she is not as alone as she’d thought. When Edward Maxwell tries to blackmail her into marrying him, Estella is faced with a choice: comply with Edward’s wishes or he will destroy all that her grandfather left her to protect. What did he leave her to protect? The glen? The Irish? Is there actual magic involved in the story, because the 2nd para kind of hints at it.
I feel THE STONE INHERITANCE might appeal to admirers of impetuous heroines as in Mandy McGinnis’s A MADNESS SO DISCREET and Megan Shepherd’s THE MADMAN’S DAUGHTER Trilogy. I have a master’s degree in English education (grades 7 through 12) and graduated with a concentration in writing.
This is my first novel. Great bio. It’s assumed it’s your first novel, or your first attempt at getting published anyway, since you don’t have any publishing credentials listed here. I’d cut the line.
Overall this is a great query. The second para is a little vague in terms of whether or not there’s just secret things going on or maybe some actual magic. If there is a touch of paranormal that needs to be clear because it adjusts your genre a bit. Still, you’ve done a great job here.