When Jill Baguchinsky's query hit my inbox, I knew I had to read this book. It was a drop-everything-and-read-it-in-a-day sort of description, and that was exactly what I did. I offered to represent her the very next day.
And with her book almost here, publishing with Turner next week, I wanted to share the query letter that hooked me so quickly.
The hook part here is important, because that's what got me. We'll dig into that in a minute.
I've done this before with the query letters for Samira Ahmed, Anna Hecker, Kati Gardner, and more, which you can read collected here on my Perfect Pitch page.
And if you find this helpful, do consider pre-ordering her novel from your book retailer of choice.
Let's see that query!
Dear Eric Smith:
The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who's also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style and persona she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren't compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat.
When Natalie's paleontologist hero steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she'll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying the rules and risking her life for the sake of a major discovery.
Then there's Chase the intern, who's seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who'd be even cuter if he were less of a grouch -- Natalie's got more than just mammoths on her mind this summer.
MAMMOTH puts a paleo spin on a DUMPLIN'-style young adult contemporary narrative -- it's ELEANOR AND PARK meets JURASSIC PARK, just without the gene splicing and marauding velociraptors. Natalie's battle to reclaim her self-image will appeal to plus-size teens and any readers who struggle with being themselves, and the dig-site setting will engage anyone who geeks out about science. MAMMOTH is complete at 68,000 words.
MAMMOTH is a story about discovering and appreciating your strengths at any size. It's a great fit for the body positivity movement that's going strong on social media -- there's a YA readership out there that's eager for greater diversity in terms of body type. Also, young readers need to see more female characters excelling in scientific fields -- stories like HIDDEN FIGURES inspire girls to consider science-based careers, and the paleontology content in MAMMOTH plays into that. While drafting MAMMOTH, I worked with with several paleontologists and trained in fossil excavation and prospecting at the Waco Mammoth National Monument. My contacts at the Waco site are excited to help promote MAMMOTH as soon as it finds a publisher.
Thanks for your time.
Sincerely, Jill Baguchinsky
Okay, so let's talk about this. Namely, the hook.
"MAMMOTH puts a paleo spin on a DUMPLIN'-style young adult contemporary narrative -- it's ELEANOR AND PARK meets JURASSIC PARK, just without the gene splicing and marauding velociraptors."
What! That is what got me. I also ended up using this hook when pitching editors down the line. A good hook can do just that. Hook someone in. And Jill did a spectacular job of that in this pitch.
She also does a fantastic job summing up the story and introducing the themes she's exploring when describing the book, and then she goes the extra mile by talking about her research.
The details she added in about visiting dig sites and really getting to know her subject definitely grabbed me. That's something a publisher doesn't have in a database. It brings a lot of value to the table, and we discussed these dig site ties in the proposal for the book.
So, if there is some kind of tie there with your work, I think it's a good idea to bring it up.
Hope you found this helpful, and consider pre-ordering Mammoth from your book retailer of choice.