For those interested in querying but don't know where to start, I'm posting my query letter and some tips:
I’m looking for an agent for THE TOUCH THAT CARVES, a YA light-silkpunk fantasy debut which is inspired by my experiences as a second-generation Vietnamese American. It is a standalone with duology potential, complete at 80k words. [AGENT PERSONALIZATION]. This manuscript might particularly appeal to fans of Chloe Gong’s THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and Marie Lu’s SKYHUNTER.
They call her a bloodcarver. In Theumas, a city-state on the verge of medical revolution, where citizens worship industry over deities, 20-year old Nhika can rend bone and weave sinew with just a touch. The last of her kind, Nhika has always been alone in a city whose forebears have shunned her kind and whose people fear her.
And for good reason: her touch could kill. But when a misstep lands her for sale on the black market, she’s bought to heal instead. Suddenly, Nhika finds herself roped into the mystery surrounding an aristocrat’s death, and to earn her freedom, she must keep her identity as a bloodcarver a secret.
That’s easier said than done when an enigmatic young man pulls at her heartstrings in ways even bloodcarving can’t quell.
With her new identity, Nhika has a chance at a real connection with someone else, something beyond her carving touch. But others would kill for her gift, and Nhika will have to decide what is worth saving—or dying for.
I graduated from [REDACTED] with a degree in [REDACTED], which has informed and inspired my storytelling. This story also draws from my medical background and experiences in an immigrant family.
Thank you for your time and consideration. [MENTION ATTACHMENTS] I’d be happy to pass along the full manuscript at your request.
[contacts, as needed]
Tips to write a query letter:
1.) Keep it brief and concise: a paragraph for meta data; a hook-y, non-spoilery blurb; and a short bio. You should aim for around 500 words or less.
2.) For the meta data, you can include: comp titles (I was not specific, but it's best to be as specific as possible), word count, genre, title, and agent personalizations as necessary. Personalizing the meta data to an agent could mean playing up the parts of your manuscript that particularly appeal to their wishlist, mentioning whether you were referred, listing what kind of editors have already expressed interest, etc.
3.) The story blurb is the most important part of the query. It should have a similar level of depth as a blurb you might find on the back of a published book. If you don't know where to start, a general guideline to follow is: who is the main character (including age)?; what is the inciting incident?; how does this specifically trouble the MC?; what are the stakes if the MC doesn't do X?
3.5) Of course, this will look different if you have multiple POV characters or less traditional antagonists, but you will still want to convey to an agent why the conflict matters to your characters. Character is key!
4.) For the personal bio, don't worry about not having any credentials. I certainly did not. Don't inflate yourself if you don't; just mention things that would be pertinent to the manuscript, such as why you are the right person to write this book.