Ask Daphne! About My Query IX

May 22nd, 2009 • Kate

spaceFor the Stormtrooper in your life, these space age shoes. And for B.R., the final “About My Query” for the week. I have more in my inbox to get to, but we’ll spread them out a bit moving forward, ok? If you want our esteemed guest panel’s review of your query, you can email it to with the subject line “About My Query,” followed by your book’s title. It’s a book you’d like me to consider representing, those queries still need to follow my submission guidelines and be sent to With that out of the way, let’s get to today’s query!

Dear Ms. Unfeasible,

317 year old Amy has spent 300 years asleep in cryostatis. Elder has spent all of his seventeen years on board a generation space ship bound for a new planet. Born to become the leader of the space ship, Elder has no idea there is a group of people cryogenically frozen in a hidden level of the ship. When Amy wakes up fifty years early, she teams with Elder to discover who unplugged her—because whoever it was is now unplugging the others, and they’re not surviving their unbidden early wake-up call. Amy’s desperate search to find a home on the ship she’s trapped on is matched only by her search to stop the murderer before he unplugs her parents. The murderer, however, has a plan: use his strategic killing to make Elder, who is next in line to rule the ship, discover a terrible secret. Now Amy and Elder must decide: is it better to tell the truth or let everyone else live in happy ignorance?

Building on the fear of isolation and containment in Jeanne DuPrau’s CITY OF EMBER and the psychology and philosophy in Mary Pearson’s THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX, my novel, A LONG WAY HOME, is a YA science fiction light on science but strong in character development.

I am currently a high school world literature teacher and an active member of SCBWI, having been published in and working as the copy editor of the state SCBWI magazine. Additionally, I run a blog on writing for MG and YA audiences which receives between 100 and 150 hits a day.

I am prepared to submit the entire manuscript upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration with this project.


This is a great query to end on, since it hits most of the main things I want to see in a query dead on. Hook-like opening paragraph? Check! More general description, with comparative titles? Check! Short bio and credentials? Check!

It’s short, but does what it needs to do. Sure, I want to know more — a murderer with a plan to make sure people know stuff seems a little lame, and didn’t you already tell me Elder is next in line to be the leader? And how is it that he can be the next leader of a generation ship, and not know about the frozen people? — but that’s what the pages are for.

What do you think?

Filed Under: About My Query, Ask Daphne!

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5 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query IX”

  1. Samantha Clark Says:

    I agree. The story sounds very interesting to this sci-fi fan.

    I also wondered why Amy hasn't died like the other people waking up early.

    This sentence is a bit awkward: Amy’s desperate search to find a home on the ship she’s trapped on is matched only by her search to stop the murderer before he unplugs her parents.

    But I wonder if you need it. It seems to bring up a sub story line that I don't think you need to mention in the query — her search for a home. I think it confuses the main story here. Keep the part about her parents, though.

    Also when you say the murderer has a plan, that changes the point of view, and I'd say just keep it in the pov that's used in the book.

    Daphne adds in her comments that many questions could be answered in the pages, but remember that many agents want only a query letter in an initial submission. So your query really has to shine and represent your book well.

    Good luck!

  2. Krista G. Says:

    B.R., my only suggestion would be to break up the first paragraph into two or maybe three. I found myself wanting to skim over it because of its size, and that's the last thing you want an agent to do.

  3. Casey Says:

    Great query, B. You might consider adding the word count.

  4. jimnduncan Says:

    Curious. Do you want the querier to be telling you the story is strong on character development? This seems to straddle that line of not telling the agent what to think about your story. This kind of line matter? Prefer not to see lines like this?

  5. Kate Says:

    Jim – normally I'd agree. Telling me it's strong on character development is just that — "Telling." But in this case, it's contrasted with "light on science" and works. Plus, I already can see from the previous paragraph that the emphasis is on the characters.