The Query Letter That Got Me My Agent

In any scenario, but perhaps especially in the literary sphere, it is important to be adaptable. By the end of my querying phase, I had gone through two rewrites of my original query letter, three versions total. These rewrites were not necessarily due to a lack of agent responses—even the first version received three partials and one full request—but as a writer, it was hard to ignore the gnawing feeling that the balance between conciseness and engaging elements was lacking in my earlier versions.

Below are my query letters:

Ver. 1 

Dear Agent,

            As a top student of Godolia’s famed Windup Academy, Sona Steelcrest is expected to be grateful for the wires shoved through her veins, the microchips implanted along her brain stem, and the cable sockets puckering the skin of her forearms. These Mods—gifted upon her seventeenth birthday—mark Sona as a full-fledged Pilot, giving her the ability to synch with the Windups: hundred foot tall mechas that hold an arsenal of detrimental skills at their disposal. The all-powerful nation of Godolia utilizes the mercilessness embedded in their treasured Pilots and the invincibility of the Windups in order to ensure that their authority over the world remains unquestioned.

            But Sona’s true loyalties lie far outside of Godolia’s grasp, and, rather than celebrating her forced evolution, she will revel in the Academy’s ignorance: in an attempt to create their protector, they had created nothing short of their downfall.

            Eris “The Frostbringer” Shindanai is a Gearbreaker: a warrior born in the Badlands and raised from birth to detest every branch of Godolia’s oppression. Her mission is simple: infiltrate any Windups that dare to cross her path, and take the atrocities apart from the inside. Takedown after takedown, the Frostbringer becomes synonymous with carnage and chaos, her alias whispered as a horror story throughout the Academy. But Sona sees a future in the Gearbreakers, as well as her dream of Godolia’s future devastation.

            When the feared Frostbringer meets the Academy’s cruelest student, Eris struggles with putting her desire for Godolia’s peril over her distrust of the wires running beneath Sona’s skin. But when Eris finds that Sona’s hatred of the Windups surpasses even her own, her wariness falls away and is replaced with feelings far distant from the revulsion that Pilots have always conjured. And, for the first time, Sona has found someone to fight for.

            Or more likely, after stumbling across a dangerous opportunity to destroy Godolia once and for all, someone to die for.

Ver. 2

Dear Agent,

            In an age of mechanical deities puppeteered by a power-hungry nation, the sole defense against the onslaught of false Gods is a ragtag group of renegades known as the Gearbreakers, and seventeen-year-old Eris Shindanai takes pride in being one of the most infamous of the lot. Her mission is simple: infiltrate any Windups—a charming nickname for these hundred-foot-tall bionic nightmares—that dare to cross her path, and take the atrocities apart from the inside.

            When she meets Sona Steelcrest—a mecha Pilot, the first she’s met with more heart than wires—and learns of a threat that could mean the end of the Gearbreakers, the two girls must put aside their distrust of each other in order to fight to preserve what little humanity is left in the world. But how much of their lives are they willing to sacrifice for their cause, especially when distrust succumbs to friendship and something more?

Ver. 3 (Which landed me an offer of rep!)

Dear Agent,

            In an age of mechanical deities puppeteered by a power-hungry nation, the sole defense against the onslaught of false Gods is a ragtag group of renegades known as the Gearbreakers, and seventeen-year-old Eris “The Frostbringer” Shindanai takes pride in being one of the most infamous of the lot. Her mission is simple: infiltrate any Windups—a charming nickname for these hundred-foot-tall bionic nightmares—that dare to cross her path, and take the atrocities apart from the inside.

            As a top student of Godolia’s famed Windup Academy, Sona Steelcrest is expected to be grateful for the wires shoved through her veins, the microchips implanted along her brain stem, and the cable sockets puckering the skin of her forearms. These Mods mark Sona as a full-fledged Pilot, giving her the ability to synch with the Windups and use their arsenal of detrimental skills to ensure that the nation of Godolia remains sealed to its place of power.

            But Sona’s true loyalties lie far outside of Godolia’s grasp, and when she learns of a new model of Windups that could mean the end of the Gearbreakers, she seeks out the Frostbringer’s help. While Eris struggles with putting her desire for Godolia’s peril over her distrust of the wires running beneath Sona’s skin, she finds that Sona’s hatred of the Windups surpasses even her own, and her wariness is soon replaced with feelings far distant from the revulsion that Pilots have always conjured. And, for the first time, Sona has found someone to fight for.

            Or more likely, after stumbling across a dangerous opportunity to destroy Godolia once and for all, someone to die for.

As you can see, Ver. 1 (which I felt was too wordy) and 2 (which I felt was lacking the stakes of the plot) fed into the final Ver. 3. Following the query was my bio, which stayed consistent throughout the rewrites:

    I am seeking representation for Gearbreakers, a YA science fiction novel complete at 120,000 words. Gearbreakers is Pacific Rim meets Cinder meets Mockingjay, written for readers who enjoy robot sword fights and battle-primed female protagonists, as well as those who are seeking LGBTQ main characters in the science fiction genre. I am currently an English student at the University of Washington in Seattle, and have a background in kickboxing, which proved to be extremely helpful in shaping the multitude of fight scenes in Gearbreakers. I have pasted the first ten pages of the manuscript below for your consideration.

            Best Wishes Always,

            Zoe Hana Mikuta

And, of course, I know that my ‘final’ query letter was leaps and bounds from being perfect, but the advice I tend to live by is that ambition used solely in a strive for perfection is heartachingly wasteful. My advice: be open to rewrites, and be open to uncertainty.

(By the way, if Gearbreakers grabs your attention, it’s out spring 2021 with Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan!)

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s