By Kyra Nelson
I’ve been teasing my involvement with Revise & Resub for a few days now, and I’m excited to announce the details of my participation.
For the inaugural #RevPit, each editor will choose a runner-up. I will be offering query critiques to all runners-up in order to get them ready for the query trenches. I’m so excited to see the queries I get to work with. As Captain (Query) Hook, I love helping authors with their queries. They're one of my favorite things to edit. In the meantime, I’d like a to share a few pointers to get you started on writing a really excellent query.
First things first, you’ll want to write a hook to grab your reader’s attention. This hook can be anything that will stand out to your character. Start by asking yourself, what is the number one most interesting thing in my book? Does your main character have a special ability? Do they have a tragic past? An intriguing inciting incident? These are the type of things that create a great hook.
As you move into the synopsis portion of your query, focus on conflict. You may have a lush world or powerful backstory for your characters. The query isn’t the place to talk about them. Sure, you may need to mention the world or the backstory for your query to make sense, but keep explanations to a minimum. You want your focus to be on all the challenges that the character must overcome. Conflict is where it’s at.
You’ll want to end the synopsis portion of your query with a bang. You can do this by including clear stakes. I suggest using the following formula: Character must do [insert really hard thing here] or else [insert really bad thing here] will happen. You don’t have to word your stakes exactly like that, but it should tell the reader exactly what the character needs to do and what happens if they fail. Strong stakes make a reader say, “I need more now!”
Don’t forget the nuts and bolts that go at the end of your query. This includes genre and audience, word count, comp titles (books that are similar to yours), and a short bio. This part should be short and to the point, but make sure you include it.
If you want more tips, check out our sample query or get involved with my #askeditor session. I can’t wait to see you on submission day!
Kyra Nelson is a YA author and freelance editor. She earned her BA in English language and Editing from Brigham Young University before completing her MA there in linguistics. She is now pursuing a degree in applied linguistics from Northern Arizona University. Before becoming a freelance editor, Kyra spent several years interning at a literary agency and working in house for various publications. She has also taught university courses in composition, grammar, and editing.
Kyra is a recurring character on the YA WordNerds vlog. She likes keeping busy whether she's reading, writing, baking, hiking, playing violin, or just goofing off with friends. Kyra loves adventure, even if it's a small adventure like roasting Starbursts over the open flame of her stove top.