When I was querying (oh, I’m biting my nails just thinking about it!), I was maniacally trolling the boards of websites like AgentQuery Connect, looking for any inspiration I could find for how to craft my query letter.
In that spirit, I’m including my full query letter to Claire Wilson (my now-agent) here – minus a few personal bits. I re-drafted it an ungodly amount of times, and it took over a month to get it to this stage. For anyone interested in stats, I sent this out to 32 agents all at once, got 15 requests for the full manuscript, and 5 offers of representation.
The final book will actually be much different than the query (so goes publishing!), but this should give some indication of what agents look for. Best of luck to everyone beginning this journey, and may the odds be ever in your favor!
FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO READ IF BIRDS FLY BACK, SPOILERS AHEAD!
Sixteen-year-old Linny has spent all of high school as “camera girl,” filming her friends’ escapades while craving adventures of her own. So when Álvaro Herrera (star of Linny’s favorite film, the 1960’s cult classic Midnight in Miami) seemingly rises from the dead before her eyes, she believes it’s finally, finally her chance to break away from the sidelines. Three years ago, Álvaro vanished from a yacht in the Gulf of Mexico, and reporters and FBI agents alike are hell-bent on uncovering the secret of those missing years. Armed with a lifetime’s worth of pent-up wishes for excitement, Linny resolves to unravel the mystery first—no matter what it takes.
Enter seventeen-year-old Sebastian, an aspiring astrophysicist with melodramatic tendencies, whose mother just dropped the bomb that Álvaro is his father. Álvaro has no idea that he has a son, and because of his rapidly progressing Alzheimer’s, maybe never will. Now Sebastian has to get to know his dad before it’s too late, but (much to Sebastian’s chagrin) some girl keeps interrupting their father-son time…
Álvaro’s mystery soon leads Linny and Sebastian on an entangled obstacle course through suburban Miami. What they end up discovering—and what they keep from each other—might drive them apart forever.
IF BIRDS FLY BACK is a 64,000-word literary young adult novel told in Linny and Sebastian’s alternating perspectives. It will perhaps appeal to readers of Rainbow Rowell and Sarah Dessen, and anyone who celebrates diverse books.
I have an MSt. in English from Oxford University and an MA in Creative Writing and Publishing from City University London, where I was mentored by Carnegie Medal nominee _______. I was recently a finalist for the Orlando Prize for Short Fiction, and I currently work as a Children’s Editorial Assistant at Faber & Faber. We actually met when you came to the Faber office with the ultra-talented _______. Because your submissions are of the best that we receive (I absolutely adored _______), I hope you will consider representing me as well.
I have attached my synopsis and first fifty pages to this email. Thanks so much for your time.