Note: Title says it all! Below is the query I sent to Elana Roth Parker that kicked off my debut’s journey to publication. If you compare the book I queried to the book that’s hitting shelves, you’ll see that SO much has changed—including the title! We added about 20k (58k is pretty short for YA), changed the themes of the plot significantly, and tightened things up to help pacing. As far as timing, it will be 3 years and 2 months from the date I sent this query to my publication day.
I have so much to say about querying, but one huge note: please DO NOT copy this exactly, especially if you want to query Elana. She’s going to spot that from a mile away. The below query was the result of 2+ years of research, tweaking, and learning the rules of querying AND FOLLOWING THEM. Ultimately, it’s the book and not the query that gets you an agent. Put in the work, and don’t give up.
Dear Ms. Parker,
I am seeking representation for my upper YA novel THE RED BRIDGE WARS—a reimagining of Homer’s The Iliad set in modern day San Francisco. With the sharp pace of Claudia Gray’s Firebird series and the emotional pull of Jennifer Niven’s All The Bright Places, I believe my work may be an excellent fit for your list.
A beloved socialite drowns, and her family and fiancé argue over who is to blame. The dispute devolves into the Red Bridge Wars, a turf battle between three street gangs: the Boars, the Herons, and the Stags.
Eighteen-year-old Valerie Simons knows the gangs are dangerous – her own brother was shot and killed by a Boar two years ago. She also knows his death was her fault, and the depression that rocked her after he died has never left.
Still, neither danger nor depression can sway Valerie from wanting to join the elite, beautiful Herons and use their connections to find her brother’s killer. It doesn’t hurt that her longtime crush, Matt, is slated to become leader of the Herons. But the Stags recruit her instead, throwing Valerie into a world she cannot predict. Her new commander – the dangerous and volatile Jax – promises to help her get her revenge, and Valerie’s wariness gives way to hope.
Then Matt asks her to help him end the Wars for good – but doing so means betraying the Stags. Torn between old love and new loyalty, Valerie races ahead of the police to get what she wants. In the end, only the city’s adage remains true: no one wins the Wars.
THE RED BRIDGE WARS is complete at 58,000 words. My book features multi-racial characters of varying sexual identities and touches upon issues of mental health and gentrification.
I am a Bay Area native currently living in San Francisco, where it is often foggy but never dull. I work as a publicist at Counterpoint Press in Berkeley, CA, am a member of SCBWI, and am a regular attendee of the AWP and ALAC conferences.
Thank you for your time and consideration.