With Kati Gardner's debut novel, BRAVE ENOUGH, due out on August 21st, I wanted to share her fantastic query letter.
I've done this before with the query letters for Samira Ahmed's Love Hate & Other Filters and Anna Hecker's When the Beat Drops, so let's keep this tradition going, and see what you can learn from authors who have been through this process and come out with an agent (me!) and book deals!
Kati's debut has garnered some serious praise, including two starred reviews from Kirkus and Foreward. If you find this helpful (I hope you will!) do consider pre-ordering her heartbreaking contemporary read.
Let's see that query!
Dear Mr. Smith,
My name is Kati Gardner and I am submitting Brave Enough, a contemporary Young Adult novel. Brave Enough is 74,000 words and centers around two teenagers who are facing life with the added complications of cancer. This book would appeal to fans of The Fault In Our Stars and the feature film Center Stage.
One dance audition changed Cason Martin’s life.
Cason is a ballerina. She is driven, but can never meet the expectations of her Artistic Director/Mother. When it is discovered that the strange pain Cason has continued to dance through is a rapidly growing tumor, her whole life is stopped.
Davis Channing is a drug addict, but he’s been in recovery for seven months. After being arrested for possession of a Oxycodone and sentenced to community service, Davis finds himself working with the doctors and nurses on the pediatric Oncology unit. The same people that helped save him from his own cancer only three years before. Can they help save him again, this time from himself?
No one would ever say that these two had anything in common.
And if you had have asked Cason or Davis they would have said the same thing. But, during the most important audition of Cason’s life that would all change.
This novel is personal for me as a writer, actor (BA in Theater Arts), and childhood cancer survivor (25 years). I wanted to convey the truth of what being a cancer survivor is like for the many young adults who face cancer everyday. I wanted to tell our stories.
Please feel free to contact me with any further questions you might have. Thank you for your time and consideration.
So Kati does a lot of things so so right in this query letter. Let's break it down.
Open with a Hook: This is my favorite way to see queries open up. With a hook, or with some kind of personal approach (ie: "I saw you work with X author"). Her hook dishes the title, category, genre, story, word count, AND comp titles. It's perfect. "...Brave Enough, a contemporary Young Adult novel. Brave Enough is 74,000 words and centers around two teenagers who are facing life with the added complications of cancer. This book would appeal to fans of The Fault In Our Stars and the feature film Center Stage."
The Book Description: She digs into that jacket-copy-esque description right away, and breaks it up with a bit of drama. Shows the stakes and the tension on separate lines, in a way you'd totally see on the back of your favorite YA novel.
Her Bio: Note the personal connection to the work that Kati mentions here. I liked the premise right away, but the fact that it came from this genuine place made me absolutely NEED to have it.
Now, nothing says you have to disclose anything personal about yourself when querying your book. I can't stress that enough. But sharing that personal tie was a real attention grabbing aspect of this query. I really want to work on books that come from real places, and Kati's story certainly does.
And that's that!
If you found Kati's query helpful, consider picking up her debut!