A query is the first (and sometimes only) impression you can give of your novel. It is a page-long letter in which you (the author) are supposed to describe yourself, your novel, and sell both of these to the publisher or literary agent to which the letter is addressed.
Below is my query letter for Millennial Fish:
My name is Thomas Marshall, I am a previously unpublished 21 year old, I attend the University of Southern California, and I hope to start a career in writing with my approximately 66,000 word YA novel, Millennial Fish.
Millennial Fish is This Side of Paradise meets On the Road in the style of a conversational, self-aware, and au courant John Green, written for, by, and about the millennial generation. Familiar yet unexpected, and entirely captivating, Millennial Fish is the story of a teenager who finds himself when he finds a girl, then loses the girl, and finds himself once again on the American road.
Following the tradition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looking for Alaska, and Mandy Berman’s Perennials, Millennial Fish examines American adolescent life through the eyes of three teenagers discovering love, music, sexuality, and personal identity. Everything about the story and the way it’s written speak to millennials (especially current high school students) in a way only a narrator (and author) their age could, from the tone, to the pacing, and even to the diction and syntax. And just as music plays such a huge part in adolescence, so too does it play a large part in the novel, from the chapter titles, to musical quotes and references intertwined throughout the text.
The first half of the novel follows Alexander, a teenager on the dividing line between childhood and adulthood through his last two years of high school in a small Southern California beach town. Though he enters his junior year of high school characterized with an all-too-common adolescent apathy, he is soon thrust out of this ennui when he enters a relationship with Lila, the keen daughter of his writing teacher, as well as when he begins a complicated new friendship with a troubled freshman, Kenneth.
Through the outcast Kenneth, the titular ‘millennial fish,’ the novel examines the effect of parentification in a household coping with addiction and depression, as well as offering a sympathetic portrait of an adolescent with reluctant plans to bring a gun to school. By becoming the friend that Kenneth needed, Alexander prevents a school shooting and learns that helping just one person can make all the difference in the world.
After a year exploring their first serious relationship, Alexander and Lila break up shortly after high school graduation when Lila moves to New York. Alex soon misses what he once had and sets off on a cross-country road trip with Kenneth to win back Lila in the second half of the novel. However, after driving thousands of miles, Alex unexpectedly fails to change her mind, and he learns an important lesson about the individuality and agency of others, especially women. Alex returns home with Kenneth and new wisdom, looking forward to whatever his future may hold.
Every generation has a road novel, and the climate in the US is ripe for a YA/New-adult millennial epic, especially in this time of divisiveness. Because our entire generation feels so marginalized and alienated, a story of unity, self-discovery, and understanding is so desperately sought and needed.
As stated in your guidelines, I have included____.
I’ve loved both writing and reading for as long as I can remember and would now love to be able to make my passion a profession. Thank you for considering Millennial Fish.
Thomas K. Marshall