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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query feedback for YA Fantasy

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message 1: by Erika (new)

Erika Winterlia (marleene) | 25 comments I'm in the need of some feedback on the current version of my query. I can't seem to get it right and if any one could help me I'd really appreciate it.

Thank you

Here is it:

Dear [Agent]

All Asaleah wants is to help her people reclaim the land and the freedom that was stolen from them. To get there, she’d sacrifice anything. Anything but the life of her best friend.

Asaleah and her clan have devoted their lives to Kaia, the goddess who’ll lead them to war and defeat the evil forces. Her price is one of their daughters, but in return, she gives them the greatest weapon of all: a horde of dragons.

As her clan’s current Reaper, Asaleah has fed countless people to the dragons, to ensure they grow strong enough to crush the enemy. Criminals, traitors, prisoners of war—each has walked to their death beside her. Asaleah strictly follows the rules of the clan, knowing each trip to the dragons is one step closer to the freedom she dreams of. But when the dragon’s next meal turns out to be her best friend, Asaleah forsakes her duty and saves her friend’s life. For her treason, she is sentenced for ritual sacrifice. Her only way out is to run.

Alone in enemy territory, she has to put her trust in a wary elf that keeps her eyes open and knives close. But in the elf’s company, Asaleah soon realizes that her sworn enemy may not be the evil monster that mothers warn their children about—she is. And with a pending war, Asaleah has to make a choice: stand with her clan or the people she’s been taught to hate.

DRAGONBORN is a YA Fantasy complete at 89,000 words. It will appeal to fans of SORCERY OF THORNS by Margaret Rogerson and KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo.


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments The supposed sweet spot for blurbs is 100-150 words and yours is a lofty 246. My gut says you can cut the words in half and not sacrifice anything.

Did Asaleah feed one of her daughters to the dragons? I think clarifying one way or another is important.

Your last paragraph (of the blurb) has too many 'shes' and 'hers' in it. I suggest naming the elf.

Even as a fantasy, I think 89K is on the long end for YA.

Rereading, I'm not sold on your first paragraph. It smacks of back story.

Side note: in your profile pick you have wild staring eyes. Kind of creeped me out.


message 3: by Matt (new)

Matt (mattcsully) | 2 comments Cutting the first two paragraphs makes for a much stronger opening. The last paragraph could use some wording help:
Lost within enemy territory, she is forced to trust a wary elf for guidance. With the elf's help, Asaleah realizes her sworn enemy may not be the evil monster her mother warned her about. When war threatens, Asaleah has to make a choice: stand with her clan, or side with the people she's been taught to hate.


message 4: by L.C. (last edited Sep 11, 2019 08:31AM) (new)

L.C. Perry | 45 comments Whoooaaa first off, I think you should start your query with the third paragraph. This did not catch my interest until I got to the part about her feeding people to the dragons. Save the details that come before that paragraph for your synopsis.

Also, include a bio to tell agents about yourself and your writing credentials. Bonus points if you can tell them why you're querying them (currently, you have more than enough space to include that)

And, actually, 89k for YA Fantasy is not that bad at all. The limit for a YA Fantasy I've seen from my own research and read directly from agents is 100k. They will even make exceptions for longer than that sometimes. So I think you're good on word count. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any questions :)


message 5: by Erika (new)

Erika Winterlia (marleene) | 25 comments Keith wrote: "The supposed sweet spot for blurbs is 100-150 words and yours is a lofty 246. My gut says you can cut the words in half and not sacrifice anything.

Did Asaleah feed one of her daughters to the dra..."


I've been told (by agents) to aim for 250 words in a query? But yes, I know mine it's a little on the the long side and I'll definitely try and shorten it a little more. Been struggling with getting it short enough and still get enough information in there.

Side note: I'm sorry that my eyes creeped you out, but I can't do much about the way I look (nor do I want to).


message 6: by Erika (new)

Erika Winterlia (marleene) | 25 comments L.C. wrote: "Whoooaaa first off, I think you should start your query with the third paragraph. This did not catch my interest until I got to the part about her feeding people to the dragons. Save the details th..."

Thanks for you feedback. I'll definitely begin with the third paragraph. I can't believe two of you suggested that and I've never even thought of it before. I've been too focused on trying to introduce the world a little first, but I think you're right. The third paragraph feels like a good start.

And, in the original version I do have a short line on why I queried the agent and who I am :)


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments The big problem is a query only needs to be successful exactly once. It gets the MS request, the agent offers to represent you and you publish novels. Thus there's seldom a need to have more than one that works. If you go research successful queries (meaning, those that got MS requests), you'll find most violate at least one of the supposed rules. Thus, do what works for you. Even those who have successfully queried can really only tell you what worked for them, not what will work for you.


message 8: by J.R. (new)

J.R. Alcyone | 215 comments YA fantasy is a popular subgenre, and I have several friends on Twitter currently querying YA fantasies. A few have recently received partial or full manuscript requests, and their manuscripts have word counts ranging from 85K to 100K. So, I think you're fine on your word count.

In terms of current trends, there seems to be a definite push, in general, but especially in YA, for #ownvoices books and diversity among authors. If you bring something special to the table that way, I'd highlight it in my query letter.


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