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?
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 style—Jordan talking to the reader about football and boys absolutely captured my heart. Miranda does everything right here—she 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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