Ask Daphne! About My Query XXXI

chanellightbulb1These shoes have nothing whatsoever to do with the theme of this query, but since a follower shared them on Twitter, I’ve known I had to post them. Check it: lightbulb shoes! Follow the link to see how they work. Moving on to our reason for being here, Mary D. writes “I have been sending query letters for my YA paranormal novel since April. Out of…er…200-something queries, I’ve mostly received rejections. Can you tell me what is wrong? On a side note, I wrote this novel before the big boom in YA paranormal angel books…I think that this is working against me.” Let’s take a look, shall we?

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

I have completed a 100,000 word young adult novel titled Fallen Serenade. It is a mixture of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, all targeted towards the young adult market.

In my novel, Ariella “Ari” Greene is a so-called average seventeen year old living in Jacksonville, Florida. However, she’s not entirely normal. Besides being biracial, Spanish and British-American, she has large sapphire-colored eyes. She only knows three facts about her alien-like eyes: 1. They transformed when she was in ninth grade. 2. When one stares into her eyes too long they feel lost and frightened. 3. Lastly, only one person can hold her stare without flinching and that is Noah Winslow.

Ari is not drawn to Noah at first but slowly the two develop a relationship that is forbidden all for one reason…Noah is Ari’s Guardian Angel and the couple can not even express their love at all. Not only does this romance weigh heavily on Ari’s mind, she also has to deal with an ex-boyfriend from the past, Leo Aguero, who returns as a Fallen Angel. Along with this burden from Leo, Ari and Noah need to piece Ari’s past together to discover who exactly targeted her when she was young and when they do, it is the most horrifying news of all. A Dark Angel desires Ari’s soul and emotions. If he gains them, he would turn her into a Soulless and Noah would be vanished from her life forever.

Although I am an unpublished author, I have deep faith in my work. As such, this is a multiple submission. When it comes to any personal experience that would target an audience, the writing, first person narrative, is aimed towards teenagers. It is how an average girl speaks, thinks, and writes. Overall, young adults would be able to understand the main character because she is quite like them.

Thank you so much for this opportunity and I hope to hear from you soon.

Regards,
Mary D.

First of all, I’ll admit I’m getting a ton of fallen angel/guardian angel queries right now, as I’m sure are a lot of other agents. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room on some agent’s list somewhere for another, but yes, you are swimming in a very large pool. As such, your query needs to really stand out, and at the moment, it doesn’t. Can it be fixed? Aboslutely!

From the top, I think you start with too much repetition. Try simplifying your opening:

I have completed a 100,000 word young adult novel titled Fallen Serenade. It is a mixture of urban fantasy and paranormal romance, all targeted towards the young adult market. In my novel100,000 word young adult novel Fallen Serenade, Ariella “Ari” Greene is a so-called average not-entirely-normal seventeen-year-old living in Jacksonville, Florida. However, she’s not entirely normal.

That’s just an idea, of course, but you see how it simplifies your opening — and gives you more space in the rest of your letter to spend on the story. Moving on, I think you can give the reader a better sense of your setting by explaining how Ari feels out of place in Jacksonville. I can’t imagine it’s just because she’s biracial — especially not in Florida, where I imagine having Latina heritage is quite common. Does she have a British accent? Is this even necessary? Maybe you can find a way to mention it more briefly, and then get right to her eyes:

Ari is used to the strange stares her pale British skin and dark Spanish features earn her in school, but the bulk of teasing comments come about her Besides being biracial, Spanish and British-American, she has large alien-like sapphire-colored eyes.

I like how you list the three things Ari knows about her ideas, but the language is awkward. You may want to set the list off from the body of the query (without doing too much formatting, which can get messed up in emails). In doing so, you might also want to consider making the list items shorter and pitchier:

She only knows three facts about her alien-like eyes:
1. They transformed when she was in ninth grade.
2. When one stares into her eyes too long They make other people feel lost and frightened.
3. Lastly, Only one person can hold her stare without flinching and that is :Noah Winslow.

I feel like the next paragraph is very rough. It really doesn’t flow at all. I’m going to ask my readers for their thoughts on revising it, and jump down to the closing ‘graph. Again, I think you’re overstating things. Simply state that you are as yet unpublished, and that this is a multiple submission. The rest is entirely unnecessary.

Readers: other thoughts?

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