Thursday, September 30, 2010

6 Query Letter #4

Query #4
Monica B.W.
Out of My Body
YA Urban Fantasy

Dear Ms. LaPolla,

After reading and enjoying Glass Cases and your interview for the YA Highway blogsite, I thought you might like my 55,000-word young adult urban fantasy, OUT OF MY BODY.

Whenever her soul feels like jumping out of her skin, sixteen-year-old Tanya Reinhart finds herself hovering over her limp, drooling body. Sure, some might think astral experiences are fun. But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in the middle of class, or—crap—fall into the lap of Dan Eisenhower, the guy Tanya’s had a major crush on since pretty much forever.

After finding her mother unconscious, Tanya realizes being a drooling freak runs in her family. According to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door, her mom has left her body—as she’s been doing for years in service of the US Government. Only tonight, her soul is MIA. The stranger cooks a deal with Tanya: if she becomes an out-of-body spy and discovers a traitor in his agency, he’ll get her mother’s soul back. But what could be worse than working undercover while pretending to be a normal high school student? Well, finding out you’re actually helping the bad guys, who are brewing an astral army by running lethal tests on homeless people. And now, if Tanya doesn’t turn in the traitor—who just happens to be Dan Eisenhower—she won’t see her mother alive again.

A stand alone novel with series potential, OUT OF MY BODY will appeal to the fans of Lisa McMann. The first page of this manuscript was rated with the top score by a publishing pro on Webook. My short stories have appeared in the Foundling Review, 6S, and, since I’m bilingual, in a Spanish journal, too.

Thank you for your consideration.


  1. I loved this query- the premise is really fresh and intriguing. The idea of being able to leave your body- but then not get back in again is especially creepy!
    The sentence about "brewing an astral army by running lethal tests on homeless people" kind of threw me because I didn't see the connection. Could this be clarified somehow? Are they stealing people's souls for an astral army?
    I can definitely picture this on the YA shelf and it sounds like a winner.
    Good luck!

  2. I agree that it does sound interesting and fresh. The only thing is the question posed in the second paragraph- could make it be a statement, you already have a great voice in the query. The other thing is the "who just happens to be" that could be left out and maybe give us a hook to see who she'd have to kill or turn in. I also agree that lethal army seems a bit off and maybe that could be left out, left for us to discover..?

  3. I'm intrigued with your premise. I also stumbled over astral army. Are they intentionally creating this army? If so, running lethal tests sounds like it's an accident. The word astral makes me think of stars or something celestial or more heavenly. If you wanted them to be bad or evil I'd chose a word more on the lines of supernatural or something. Army is great.

    I hope this helps! Good luck! :D

  4. Monica - this version of the query is more clear and smooth than the earlier version. I still think it could be tighter, but my thoughts may be subjective, and ultimately you have to decide what you believe is the best query for your book. :)

    Still not crazy about this line ---> "But they’re definitely not fun when you faint in the middle of class, or—crap—fall into the lap of Dan Eisenhower, the guy Tanya’s had a major crush on since pretty much forever." Especially the "you" bits. But since it remains I will chalk it up to subjectivity - and you should follow your own vision and instincts ;)

    I also still stumble over the use of "sift" in "According to an ethereal stranger who sifts through the door," But, again, that is your call ;) And the rest of the sentence and the next work really well.

    The question in the second paragraph felt forced to me and didn't feel like it added anything to the query - So, I'd suggest cuting that.

    And the throw away reference to the astral army and tests on the homeless felt abrupt - but if the rest of the query was really tight, it might work.

    Ok, here's what I think my primary concern is over the query as a whole. The final stakes seem like a no-brainer to me. This guy Dan isn't her boyfriend - he isn't even described as her friend - he's a crush. I'd trade a crush for my mother's soul any day. So the stakes look week which might make an agent doubt the whole book. So...are these the only stakes? if not, think about if there is a betetr event or stake to leave the summary pitch on.

    I'm not familiar with Webook, but I likley wouldn't mention any first page critiques in a query (I didn't - and I had some ;) ).

    I assume the places the short stories have appeared are either professional or well-known publications. If not, I'm not sure they will help, but they probably won't hurt.

    Thank you for sharing your work. Good luck!

  5. Thank you guys for your awesome comments! I'll try to fix what you said, and it all makes sense.
    Good luck to everyone too :D

  6. I really like the premise of this story.

    My concern with the query is that it feels like you're giving away the climax: she finds out she's working for the bad guys, who the traitor is, etc.

    Also - up until I had to submit a query to an agent Via Webook, I had no idea what that was. (But congrats on that!)

    Good luck!


Tell us what you think. We'd love to hear from you! :)