WWC 2014, Day 3: Querying your YA novel


Panellists: Jacqueline Guest, Danielle L. Jensen, Jessica Corra, Shawn L. Bird, Karen Bass

Jacqueline GuestDanielle L. JensenQ: Do you query a trilogy?

DJ: It depends on your genre. Some say your novel has to be a standalone, but I’ve been successful querying a trilogy.

JC: It’s okay to mention that your novel has series potential, but you can go too far with this. I was once queried with a nine book series. That was too much.

SB: It’s good to know the career potential of the author, though.

DJ: Focus on one book in your query.

JC: It’s a business letter.

KB: It’s your pitch. Three sentences. Short, punchy, and pithy.

JC: Think about the backbone of your book. That’s your through line.

JG: You’re not selling to a reader. You’re selling to an agent or publisher. Don’t tease.

SB: The basic structure of a query letter is three paragraphs: pitch, comps, and bio.

JC: You need to mention genre, word count, and title.

DJ: You Jessica Corracould write: I am seeking representation for TITLE, a GENRE novel, complete at LENGTH (in thousands of words, rounded to the nearest thousand). I actually got my agent through a logline contest for Ms. Snark.

JC: Sometimes you don’t need an agent, though.

KB: Small Canadian publishers, no. Big publishers or genres, yes. Anything in the States, yes.

DJ: I’d die without my agent. She takes care of things

like foreign riShawn L. Birdghts. It really depends on your skill set.

SB: Sometimes, it depends on the agent.

DJ: I’d recommend Query Tracker.

JC: Jim Butcher proposes this formula for youKaren Bassr log line: *WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS*, *YOUR PROTAGONIST* *PURSUES A GOAL,* but will he succeed when *ANTAGONIST PROVIDES OPPOSITION*?

JG: Spell check, for God’s sake. You have two sentences to hook an agent or editor.

DJ: Your first five to ten pages must be perfect.

JC: We know you’re human, though. We’ll overlook something small.

JG: There are lots of library books that will help you.

DJ: Online critique groups can help as well.

Q: How do I know the agent is reputable?

DJ: Writer Beware, Preditors & Editors, and Absolute Write are three sites where you can check out questionable agents, agencies, or scams. If you post on social media or forums, don’t bitch about being rejected.

Q: How many queries do you receive and how many of those do you read?

JC: We have readers, so I don’t see them all, but everyone I receive, I read.

Q: You’ve published several books. Do you still slave over your letters?

JG: Yes. Every time.

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7 thoughts on “WWC 2014, Day 3: Querying your YA novel

  1. Pingback: WWC 2014, Day 3: Querying your YA novel | Shawn L. Bird

    • Depending on your genre (epic fantasy or science fiction, for example) you could have a single novel in three parts. And you kind of have to figure out if it’s YA or not. Protagonist age is not the only determining factor. 90k is a reasonable adult novel in many genres . . . Of course, if you’re being facetious, just ignore all this and keep writing.

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      • Not being facetious at all. As for whether or not it is truly YA, if Twilight was appropriately marketed as YA, then there’s no reason my collection of stories involving these characters can’t be considered YA. But my story isn’t fantasy, science fiction, or vampire. It’s about two sixteen-year-olds and a twenty-year-old dealing with real life problems. What I thought of doing was marketing each novella as a separate e-book and then combining all three into a paperback.

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