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Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Score”

Categories: Children's Writing, Chuck Sambuchino's Guide to Literary Agents Blog, Successful Queries.

This series is called “Successful Queries” and I’m posting actual query letters that succeeded in getting writers signed with agents. In addition to posting the actual query letter, we will also get to hear thoughts from the agent as to why the letter worked. 

The 53rd installment in this series is with agent Sara Megibow (Nelson Literary) for Miranda Kenneally’s YA novel, Score (which may be retitled), a story about a girl who becomes quarterback of her high school football team. The book comes out in November 2011 from Sourcebooks Fire.


 

Dear Ms. Megibow:

My name is Jordan Woods, I’m seventeen, and last year, I blew it in the final seconds of the Tennessee state championship football game. This year, I can’t let that happen or I’ll never get a scholarship to play ball in college. I have a lot to prove, what, with an NFL star for a father – a father who doesn’t think I should be playing football. Why wouldn’t a famous quarterback want his kid to follow in the family footsteps?

I’m a girl.

But I’ve been playing quarterback since I was seven, so everyone’s gotten used to me by now. I’m a normal teenage girl. Well, as normal as I can be. I mean, obviously I think Justin Timberlake is a mega hunk, but I’m also over six feet tall and can launch a football fifty yards.

Other ways I’m not normal? A girl who hangs with an entire football team must hook up all the time, right?

Nope.

I’ve never had a boyfriend and most people think I’m gay. Hell, I’ve never even kissed a guy. But that might be about to change because the hottest guy, Ty Green, just moved here from Texas. Just the sight of him makes me want to simultaneously fly and barf. It turns out that he’s also a quarterback, and he’s a hell of a lot better than me. Last year, Ty led his team to win the Texas state championship.

And I’m scared. What if Coach gives my position away? What if Ty isn’t interested in me? The worst fear of all? What if Ty distracts me from my dreams of playing ball in college?

And why is my best friend, our star wide receiver, acting so strangely all of a sudden?

SCORE, my 67,000-word YA novel, explores when it’s okay to make compromises in life, and when to take risks. My protagonist writes poetry (it’s a hobby that she keeps hidden from her teammates), so some sections of the manuscript are written in verse. While Catherine Murdock’s DAIRY QUEEN series also focuses on a female football player, my novel is different in that my protagonist doesn’t just decide to play football one day. Football is the only life my protagonist has ever known. When this new guy moves to town, she begins to explore the femininity she has rejected her entire life. She also faces a serious struggle with unrequited love, though not in the way you might expect.

Since your agency represents Ally Carter, I thought you might be interested. I also believe you’ll enjoy the love story. I attended American University, where I studied creative writing and literature. As a tomboy who grew up playing football during recess and didn’t get her first kiss until the age of sixteen, embarrassingly, I am highly qualified to write this novel.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Commentary from Sara

I read a lot of query letters … a lot. As soon as I reviewed this one by Miranda Kenneally, I was hooked. Immediately, my agent-brain thought, “this book has a ton of personality!”

That’s really what caught my attention. Let’s call it narrative voice or styleJordan talking to the reader about football and boys absolutely captured my heart. Miranda does everything right hereshe nails the inciting incident (a new boy in town? he wants to play football? he’s HOT?); she presents a compelling heroine with an engaging personality and she shows the plot in a clear, concise manner. The query letter is short and I know immediately that the author can write.

Well done on all counts! I am thrilled to represent Miranda and we all did the happy dance when Sourcebooks Fire offered for the book! We are thrilled to be celebrating a 2011 release.


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8 Responses to Successful Queries: Agent Sara Megibow and “Score”

  1. Teresa says:

    (Coming way late into the conversation…) I share some of Alejandro’s puzzlement. I’m sure this is an amazing novel, but I found the opening with the POV of the main character confusing (unless that part was italicized in the original letter, but isn’t here), and I really thought that it was written by a 17 year old with an unusual life – which would be very cool – but then I find out 2/3 of the way through the letter that the real writer isn’t that 17 year old and felt taken in. Maybe I’m just easily confused. :}

  2. Alejandro Ortiz says:

    I don’t wanna disrespect the author and/or the agent, but I honestly wouldn’t have taken on that novel because of the query letter alone. The synopsis uses a lot of cliches, and opening the letter with a first-person narration from the character was… I don’t know, amateurish. Then again, that may be why I’m not an agent, but if I hope to get published one day I should start thinking like one, haha.

  3. Peter says:

    I am writing on behalf of Ben Wood.
    Ben has recently started his own fiction story site called Army of Puppets.
    http://www.armyofpuppets.com

  4. I loved this letter. Thanks so much for sharing a great example of how to capture the entire package- style, voice, concept, conflict- in one quick letter. Jordan

  5. Sara Megibow says:

    Thanks Chuck for posting this!

    It really was a blow-me-away concept and I’ve enjoyed working with this author (and this book) sooooo much!

    For those interested, Miranda is online at http://www.mirandakenneally.com
    Best,
    Sara

  6. Kristan says:

    I’ll be honest: normally I don’t like query letters from the POV of the character, but I LOVED this one! (Even though it was kinda long, too.) And I totally want to read the book!! As a female football lover, this is right up my alley.

  7. Chuck and Sara: Thanks so much for posting this. It’s always a treat reading successful queries.

  8. Here’s another query that breaks the rules (first person query from a character) yet still succeeds because it’s so darn good. If you look back at past queries I’ve posts, No. 50 in the series did the exact same thing. That one also broke the rules but no one cared because it was amazing.

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