Monday, December 31, 2012

It Takes a Village to Write a QUERY

Writing a query is no easy task and anyone who’s done it will tell you it takes many hours, a trial and error of words, and several eyes to get those few hundred words perfect.

Here at YA Stands, we’re no strangers to the query writing process. Our members have written over 40 queries garnering over 80 full manuscript requests, six agents and one editor! And we want to share what we’ve learned along the way with you in our new series: It Takes a Village to Write a Query!

Every month, YA Stands will choose one lucky query-writer and help transform his/her query into a fabulous, exciting pitch no agent will want to turn down. We will be your village.

So how can you be that lucky person?

Beginning January 2013, a submission window will be opened the first week of every month (from the 1st to the 7th). During this time, you may email Kate at katebrauning(at)gmail(dot)com a brief statement about why you think your query needs the help of our village. On the 10th of the month, ONE query-writer will be chosen and will receive three phases of critiques from at least TEN of our members!


-You must have a query already written (a first draft is fine, but we will need something to work with).


If I previously submitted a query, can I submit again? Yes, as long as you were not chosen.

Can I submit at any time during the month? No, the submission window is only open during the first week. Any submissions sent outside of the submission window will be deleted unread.

Do I have to make all the changes suggested by the YA Stands members?  Absolutely not. In the end, the query is yours and the suggestions we make are just that—suggestions.



Jolene: Don't be afraid to get feedback from others. I used to ask my roommates and Twitter friends to read my query. If they had no clue what I was talking about, clearly I needed to revise and be more specific. This helped me whip all of my queries into shape.

Nicole: Reading through the slush pile is an arduous job and you as a query-writer need to do your best to be noticed. Find the one thing that makes your story stand out from the others and highlight it clearly in your query with specific details.

Julie: Always read the agent’s individual page.

Tonya: It should read like the back of jacket flap - easy to understand and makes the agent (reader) want to know more. Also make sure not to babble on and on about WHY you wrote the book. Include your category, genre, word count, etc. and do the research on how to structure the query letter.

Amy: Do not query multiple agents in the same email. Always write specifically to one agent and personalize your query to them.

Kris: Query widely. Which is not to say throw queries aimlessly. Research and query smart. But don't give up.

Kate: Definitely get query and first pages critiques from writers and agents. Look for these opportunities by following them on Twitter and reading their blogs.

Laura: Hook, Book, Cook. Start with a hook, tell about the story, then a line or two about you and/or why you chose that agent. And be appreciative of the agent’s time.


  1. I'm so proud to be a part of this!!

  2. This is going to be great! I LOVE queries...does that make me weird?

  3. I am excited! Queries make me nervous even though I've written one hundred different versions since I began my book 6 1/2 years ago in college. This means a lot since I'm a mom, working and about to go back to school part-time.

  4. I am excited to begin this new YA Stands project. Not only will I be helping other writers, but I know that I will also learn a lot from the queries that are posted. Such a wonderful idea! I am so lucky to be surrounded by such talent!


  5. Am I too late to submit? It's the 7th??

    1. Sorry, Katie! I'm just now seeing this. Technically the submission window will stay open until midnight (PST) on the seventh, but since we've missed that why don't you hold off until next month?

    2. No worries :-D I'll be back then!

  6. Hi there, Just wondering if you're still doing It Takes a Village next month. I'll definitely be submitting!