Query Critique 81

Dear Miss Nelson,

When music lover and Massachusetts native Sarah McPhee transfers to the London offices of Sixteen Magazine, she expects the number of miles between herself and her old life to be enough to repair her crushed heart. I like these opening sentences.

It’s been a slow process getting over Ben, Sarah’s boyfriend of six years, who left her without an explanation but with an abundance of self-doubt.  Having always understood her life in terms of music – her childhood shaped by her father’s passion for sixties rock bands and her adolescence influenced by Madonna and her older brother’s knowledge of everything grunge – she finds this stretch of years to be eerily silent.  Determined to make her heart sing again, Sarah plants herself in a new city, where she immediately struggles with the ups and downs of starting over.

Tasked with saving the magazine from declining sales and subscriptions, energetic and curious Sarah quickly meets a range of new acquaintances, including her offbeat landlady, the always friendly Megan, and Megan’s charming but arrogant brother, Rob.  From getting lost (which she expected to happen) to being taught how to drive on the left side of the road (which she didn’t), Sarah learns, thanks to impromptu afternoon cocktails, an adventure through Hampstead Heath, and listening to old mix tapes, about getting over heartbreak, trusting her decisions and how to hear the music again.  Even in one of the most exciting cities in the world, happiness, she discovers, isn’t something that can be found – happiness must be made from within. So I normally don’t like queries that end with “and the character will learn x” it sort of works since this query has a quieter tone to this. Even still, I don’t think it would be bad to make the ending have stronger stakes. In other words, tell me what the character stands to lose. Overall, I think the query looks very good, though.

I studied abroad in London during college and fell in love with the city.  The balance of an almost stubborn persistence to maintain tradition and the desire to be one of the more modern cities in the world struck me as unique and fascinating.  As I can no longer “up and move” to Europe, I decided to write a story about a girl who does.

A Song for Sarah McPhee is a new adult novel complete at 86,000 words.  Put your title in all caps. Per your submission guidelines, please see below for _________.  Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

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