#32 Query Corner – BENTLEY ONE

Welcome to:

Morgan’s Query Corner:

Fresh eyes for your query quandaries.

In BENTLEY ONE, a set of elementally-aligned college students set out to find what’s scaring off its ghosts.

NOTE: If you submit your query to me (morgan.s.hazelwood@gmail.com), and you are selected for inclusion, I will give you a high-level review, in-line feedback, and my own draft of your query. If this is your query, feel free to use or ignore as much of the advice and suggestions as you wish.

[Disclaimer: Any query selected for the page will be posted on this website for perpetuity. I am an amateur with no actual accepted queries and a good number of form rejections. This does not guarantee an agent or even an amazing query, just a new take by someone who’s read The Query Shark archives twice and enjoys playing with queries.]

Overall Impression:

The story sounds like it might be interesting, but I can’t know from your query.

  1. The query needs to introduce the Main Character and their Goals and Stakes.
  2. The query should not talk about the process or why you wrote the book.
  3. Beta-readers and following the guidelines should be a given, thus don’t need to be discussed.

Queryist’s Original:


Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my supernatural YA novel, BENTLEY ONE. I think this novel may hit in a sweet spot for you since its supernatural elements tend to present more as fantastical. The finished novel is 63,000 words.

BENTLEY ONE explores the haunted campus of Bentley University located in Northern Pennsylvania. BU has several ghosts, one more prominent than others.  Someone or something is drafting the ghosts into servitude. The novel develops the friendship of the students who set out to right what is wrong about the campus.

While college was many years ago for me, the setting for BENTLEY ONE is inspired by a similar, real-life university, where I majored in mathematics and minored in writing, with an emphasis on creative writing. This is my first novel.

I have put BENTLEY ONE through multiple rounds of beta reading (including readers in the target demographic) to clean up plot points and address confusion. Most recently, I have had it professionally edited to prepare it for agent submissions.

According to your guidelines for submission, I am including the first 10 pages of BENTLEY ONE for your consideration in representing me.

All the best,

Q32

My Revision:

Dear Agent:

I am seeking representation for my supernatural YA novel, BENTLEY ONE. I think this novel may hit in a sweet spot for you since its supernatural elements tend to present more as fantastical. The finished novel is 63,000 words. [Pretty good intro. Although, trying to redefine something like ghosts as ‘fantastic’ instead of ‘supernatural’ may be stretching. Perhaps you should look at agents who are actively looking for or are open to Supernatural fantasy?]

BENTLEY ONE explores the haunted campus of Bentley University located in Northern Pennsylvania. BU has several ghosts, one more prominent than others.  Someone or something is drafting the ghosts into servitude. The novel develops the friendship of the students who set out to right what is wrong about the campus. [This is telling, not showing. I think we can pump it up.]

While college was many years ago for me, the setting for BENTLEY ONE is inspired by a similar, real-life university, where I majored in mathematics and minored in writing, with an emphasis on creative writing. This is my first novel. [You don’t want to emphasize inexperience, and unless it’s an #ownvoices novel or the plot involves a specialty of yours, this isn’t needed.]

I have put BENTLEY ONE through multiple rounds of beta reading (including readers in the target demographic) to clean up plot points and address confusion. Most recently, I have had it professionally edited to prepare it for agent submissions. [This is expected — except ‘professionally edited’. This suggests that you need a lot of work to polish drafts, and often agents (or the acquiring editors they’re selling to) will have you do revisions upon acceptance.]

According to your guidelines for submission, I am including the first 10 pages of BENTLEY ONE for your consideration in representing me. [Unnecessary.]

All the best,

Q32

The queriest took my advice, but admitted the trouble with illustrating the main character was that this was a multiple point-of-view tale! With a few more passes, we ended up with a query the queriest was happy to use.

The Final Query:

Dear [Agent],

I am seeking representation for my 61,000 word supernatural YA novel, BENTLEY ONE. I think this novel may hit in a sweet spot for you since its supernatural elements tend to present more as fantastical.

Miguel leaves campus at the end of his freshman year with all its friendly ghosts in place, haunting in their normal haunts. When he returns after the summer break, he knows something is definitely wrong – all the ghosts have disappeared!

Linda, CJ, and Frankie are elementally aligned students, looking for an earth-aligned person to complete their own investigation into the missing ghosts. Also investigating the disappearing ghosts, Miguel is easily convinced to join forces with them. When they discover an ancient, powerful spirit, calling herself ‘The Queen of Disks’ is not only taking out ghosts but controlling an army of grey-hoodied students, the foursome realize it’s not just the spirit world in danger. If they can’t stop the spirit, she just might end up controlling more than just a school.

Despite my own college’s severe lack of actual ghosts, I graduated from [SCHOOL], with a major in mathematics and a minor in writing.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Q32

With a little more focus on the meat of the story, and a little less on how the novel came together, it looks like Q32 is well on their way to finding an agent!


And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!

8 thoughts on “#32 Query Corner – BENTLEY ONE

  1. Great advice. I can tell you read a lot of Query Shark. This reads a lot like a query shark blogpost. I just wanted to say that the original query was a lot more hooking for me as a reader. So this is probably great advice for a query, but for blurb purposes, I thought ‘drafting the ghosts into servitude’ was a lot more interesting than just ‘all the ghosts are gone.’
    Also, this novel sounds awesome. If it was an adult novel, I’d be on it in a heartbeat. Just wanted to toss that out there in case the writer happens to check back here 🙂 That’s a really cool premise.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve seen a lot of great blurbs — put into query letters. And, unfortunately, they’re too vague and not what most agents are looking for.

      But, clearly there can be more tweaks to make sure the author’s voice comes through in the query. 🙂

      Like

  2. Hi Morgan! Great revision! I think the premise is very good, and if I were a supernatural/fantasy-loving agent, I’d jump on it.

    Just a few tiny tweaks I’d make in your revision. BTW, the word for someone making a query is “querier” not “queriest” (which sounds like, “oh, she’s the queriest one of her clique of friends!” – y’know? 😉 )

    Your white-font-on-pale-blue-background in the original is really hard to read; the white-on-mauve is troublesome too but not as bad. Easily fixable.

    I have no idea what “elementally aligned” means, but I assume those familiar with this genre will know.

    I would insert “that” in “When they discover [that] an ancient…” for grammatical clarity.

    I would definitely not use the phrase “a minor in writing.” It sounds like “oh, writing was just an afterthought.” I would instead accent the positive and just say I “studied creative writing” at [school].

    That’s it; otherwise, terrific, it does whet one’s appetite for more!

    Ellie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the tips!

      Although, I would have thought ‘studied creative writing in school’ implies that you have a degree in it? Whereas, having a X major and a Y minor is pretty common in universities, especially with how hard it is to make a living as a writer.

      Liked by 1 person

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