Query Critique 15

Dear Ms. Nelson,

Melissa Stratten puked on a senior basketball player while hooking up, and nobody will stop whispering about it. This is a great hook. I would include her age. Is she a senior? Or was this basketball player older than her?  Even worse her mom’s ex-boyfriend stole her college money.  Now she has to find a way to pay for college or else she’ll never get out of Valley Pines. Maybe just clarify that she needs to get out of Valley Pines because the puking thing was so humiliating.

When her best friend Jack, the school drug dealer, suggests they create an app based on school scandals, an ostracized Melissa is all for exacting revenge on her classmates. The app, Chaos, anonymously unveils the hottest dirt to everyone at school, gives Melissa a way to make some cash, and shows off her design skills to colleges.  It’s epic. I am a little confused as to what the app actually does. Like it just tells users about scandals? Do Melissa and Jack have to find the scandals for the app? This is really the only part of the query that is confusing to me.

Then Melissa finds out Jack wants to use Chaos to release a sex tape of a student and a teacher, who knows about his dealing. If Melissa doesn’t go along with Jack, she can spare a girl’s reputation–like she wishes someone spared hers.

But, the more Melissa pushes Jack to kill Chaos, the more paranoid and threatening he becomes, pinning the entire app, and the video on her. Melissa has to stop Jack before she ends up expelled, in jail, and kissing her college dreams goodbye.

IF ONLY YOU KNEW, is a 60,000 word YA contemporary novel.  It will appeal to fans of ABC’s Revenge for it’s theme of betrayal and The Social Network for it’s This should be its without the apostrophe  intellectual property battle.  Thank you for your consideration.


Master Condor


I talked with the author a little before the query was submitted because the material is grittier. Now, plenty of grittier YA books get published (Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, Ellen Hopkins Crank). But it is important to be aware that it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Not that anything is everyone’s cup of tea, but you know what I mean.

Like with anything else, this requires some research. I’ve seen agents who specifically say they like edgy stuff and some who specifically say they avoid it. If an agent doesn’t specifically say, it’s good to look at what other books the agent represents.

Overall, though, a solid query. Lots of good conflict.


2 thoughts on “Query Critique 15

  1. I agree with the comments. Just wanted to add that I like this query and would read this book because it is different. I don’t get into teen romance or mean girls taking each other down, but I do enjoy this kind of teen conflict of best friends changing to the point of creepiness.

  2. Pingback: Examples of Great Hooks | Thoughts From the Agent Desk

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