3/29/10

Query Critique: YA Teen Pregnancy

Dear Deseret Book, [it would be better if you addressed it to a specific person but if you don't know the person's name, go with Acquisitions Editor; this is a minor point.]

My 92,000-word novel, XXXX, is a message-driven Young Adult romance in the vein of Jack Weyland and Kay Lynn Mangum that depicts the emotional consequences of sexual assault on a teenage girl and those who love her. [good first paragraph; has all the vital info—length, genre, author styles to compare it to; and a short description of the plot. The only question I have is how much of a romance is it really going to be?]

From the moment she arrives in small-town Virginia, Emily Page is attracted to the introverted Joshua Cade. They fall in love and become the ideal high school sweethearts, but everything changes the night that Josh’s basketball team wins the state championship—Emily is brutalized that same night by Drew Fuller, who threatens to hurt Josh if she tells anyone what happened. [needs a paragraph break here] Traumatized, Emily tries to cover up the incident but her world comes crashing down when she realizes she is pregnant. Knowing that she won't be able to hide the pregnancy, Emily breaks Josh’s heart and leaves without telling him why. She moves to Northern Virginia to live with her brother and sister-in-law who are recent converts to the church [LDS Church]. There she is introduced to the only thing that can heal her heart —the gospel of Jesus Christ. Following her heart and overcoming her fears, she places her baby for adoption through LDS Family Services. The story concludes when Emily returns to her hometown to testify against Drew. In the courtroom, Emily finds herself unexpectedly face-to-face with Josh, the one person she has been trying to protect with her silence. [good description of content]

XXX portrays Emily’s adoption experience in an uplifting, healing manner. Many young girls keep babies born out of wedlock out of a desperate need to love and be loved. I feel confident that Emily’s example of choosing adoption will show them that having the faith to give their baby up to a good LDS home is sometimes the most loving decision. [Good first sentence; that's what I want to know about a story like this. However, it goes a little off point after that because most girls who have to make this decision weren't assaulted. Perhaps an acknowledgment of that along the lines of: Although most LDS young women who find themselves pregnant and unmarried are not victims of assault, I feel confident that Emily's example ...]

I would be proud to be a part of the Deseret Book tradition of offering thought-provoking, testimony affirming and heartfelt stories. I hope you agree that this is the right place for a story as important as Emily’s. Per Jamie Barrett’s instructions, I have included three chapters and a preface to each; [I don't know what this means. Why do each of your chapters need a preface?] the full manuscript is ready for review upon your request. I look forward to hearing your response. [Good; this tells me you understand the DB's mission and also that the book is finished. Also, I think it's always a good thing to identify the people whose names you drop, for example: Per your assistant, Jamie Barrett's instructions... or whatever.]

Sincerely,
Name
Full Mailing Address
Phone
E-mail [I'd get another email account with a more professional sounding address, like JaneDoe@yahoo.com]


Overall, a solid query. Not hugely gripping, but given the content of the book, I wouldn't expect it to be. It contains all the info I need to make a decision on whether or not to read more—and yes, I would read your chapters. If they were good and I was looking for a book that dealt with this topic, I'd ask for more. If I already had a recent release or one in the works on this topic, I'd pass.

3 comments:

Melanie J said...

I actually got to read this whole manuscript (which is REALLY good) and I think the query did a great job of representing the book. It wouldn't work for it to be gimmicky like the queries I've seen for other genres (paranormal YA, etc.). This query is really in keeping with the manuscript's tone.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, LDSPublisher! And by the way, it is very romantic (since you were wondering.)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice words, Melanie!