We’re changing our usual format today. Instead of critiquing a bad query, we’re posting an effective query and explaining why it works. This query is based on Query #2. Please note that this is NOT a real query. Like the others, this query is totally fictional and written by me.
Also please note, this query is an example. We are NOT indicating that we are intensely searching for dog novels.
Dear Ice Cube Press,
Twelve-year-old Henry Patton loves his dog. He did raise Rusty since puppyhood after all. But when his family is on the edge of bankruptcy and losing their farm, they’ll do anything for money—including selling Henry’s best friend.
Yes! We know who the main character is, with a name. We know what the problem is. And this hook makes me want to keep reading.
When Rusty’s new owner takes him away, Henry knows something’s wrong. Henry has never heard of puppy mills before or could ever imagine a human hurting a dog, but when he begins to have nightmares about Rusty, he sees Rusty’s new owner beating, starving, and locking him up in a cage half his size. Nightmares may be no proof, but Henry knows Rusty is in trouble.
Yes! More conflict! More story!
Rusty is somewhere in Des Moines, ten miles away from Henry’s farm. Now Henry has to find a way to get there, but as a kid with no license, transportation, and no connections, his options are limited. To make everything worse, time is running out.
Henry has another nightmare, the worst one yet. Rusty is dying, and his new owner is going to enter him into a dogfight. In his condition, Rusty doesn’t stand a chance and is close to his last breath.
Perfect. We know what is at stake. We know the consequences if Henry doesn’t find Rusty in time.
A YOUNG LAD’S DOG is my debut novel for pre-teen readers who love animals and adventure. It is competed at 54,000 words. *I read on your website that Ice Cube Press promotes books that teach us how to live better in the Midwest. I hope that through my book readers will be more aware of animal abuse occurring here in the Midwest and take the initiative to help our cute, furry friends. Saving men’s best friend from abuse will make us a better Midwest.
**I am a member of the Humane Society and a local animal rescue organization called Little Paws in Des Moines. The president of Little Paws has expressed interest to market and sell my book during our campaigns to increase awareness of puppy mills and dog fighting. She also has close connections with pet stores that might sell my book as well if you wish to publish my book.
Pages are available upon your request. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Why is this query good?
I know what the main character wants (his dog back), the conflict (Rusty’s in a puppy mill), and what’s at stake (Rusty might die). Everything, especially the writing, is specific, clear, and to the point. The author SHOWS me what the story is about. He didn’t have to tell me that Henry is a brave and determined boy who loves his dog. He was able to show me that he is. No adjectives needed.
Overall, this query makes me want to read more pages. If the manuscript is good, I’ll beg the press to consider it for publication.
*Always research the press first and then add something you’ve learned about them into your query. Agents and publishers love writers researching their business because it shows that you are serious about publishing.
We can tell that the writer has been on our website and has done his research. If you read the Ice Cube Press blog, you’ll know that we want to know what you can do for Ice Cube Press, and this writer gives him an answer.
**Depending whom you query, you may not need a basic marketing idea included in your query. Big commercial publishers have marketing teams and connections to sell your book, so everything is covered. For small presses, including a marketing idea will increase your chances of publication because small presses are more financially restraint and need any marketing ideas they can get.
Showing and NOT telling
Plot, consequences, and stakes included
Writing clear, specific, and direct
The Query Seal will ask for pages! 😀