Welcome to the first edition of my new blog series, “Queries That Work,” in which we’ll take a look at … wait for it … queries that work. Specifically, queries that have elicited a “yes” from an agent or publisher for a published (or soon to be published) book.
To kick off the series, I am so excited to feature the query for Jessica Martinez’ debut YA novel, VIRTUOSITY. This a great honor for me, because (a) Jessica was my mentor for WriteOnCon last year and is an incredibly talented author and a wonderful person all the way around (and those of you who read the acknowledgements for THE FUNERAL SINGER may have noticed her name in there); (b) I once took an online class with Jessica’s agent, Mandy Hubbard, who is likewise very talented and wonderful; and (c) VIRTUOSITY is a wonderful, wonderful book.
So much wonderfulness in one little blog post!
So, without further ado:
QUERY: Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez (Simon Pulse, 2011)
Dear Ms. Hubbard,
Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. Two weeks before the most important violin competition of her career, she has bigger things to worry about–like growing out of that suffocating “child prodigy” label, and not disappointing her mother. But it isn’t just the wrong time. It’s the wrong guy. Jeremy is Carmen’s most talented rival, and according to her mother, he’s only interested in one thing: winning.
He isn’t the only one.
Carmen is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to control performance nerves. But what started a year ago as an easy fix is now a hungry addiction. Her mother insists now is not the time to quit, but Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of doing what she’s told.
In the end, [REDACTED HERE DUE TO SPOILERS].
VIRTUOSITY is a contemporary YA novel and is complete at 58,000 words. It is my first novel. I have degrees in English and Music from Brigham Young University, and I’m both a writer and professional violinist. I read about your move to D4EO Literary Agency on the SCBWI website and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
There is so much I love about this query, I don’t know where to start. Jessica had me with the first paragraph. What YA fan wouldn’t want to read a story about a talented violinist falling in love with her biggest competitor? Throw in the additional conflict a la her demanding mother and an addiction to anti-anxiety pills, and you’ve got a fantastic premise for a novel. The beautifully written query and the fact that Jessica is a professional violinist tell us we’re in capable hands. No surprise Mandy requested this one and Simon Pulse ultimately published it!
I did find it interesting that Jessica chose to include the resolution in her query (which I redacted because I didn’t want to spoil the ending for you all, and you really do need to go out and buy this book and find out what happens!). It is my understanding that this typically is not necessary and may even be inadvisable. The point of the query is to make the agent/publisher want to read the manuscript, so typically best to avoid spoilers. Still, this obviously worked for Jessica, so I guess we should never say never.
What did you think of this query? Did it make you want to read the book?