Yvonne Ventresca is one of our published Sub It Club members. We love having her in the group! She is kind enough to pop in and help others out when she can. Today Yvonne is letting us take a look at the query letter she sent to her publisher that led to the sale of for her award winning Young Adult novel, PANDEMIC.
First, some fun facts:
- Although Pandemic became my fiction debut, it was the fourth novel I had written.
- I received 151 rejections along the way to publication (for all four novels).
- My Dear Teen Me letter on Sky Pony’s blog explains how I came to query Julie, if you’re interested. (Note that she is now Editorial Director at Running Press Kids.)
My query letter approach was to explain why I wrote the story, what it was about, and how it could be marketed. (Marketing was specifically mentioned in Sky Pony’s submission guidelines back then, but their guidelines have since changed.) Reading this query now, three years later, there are a few things I would revise, but I hope you find the letter useful.
Dear Ms. Matysik,
I believe [NAME] mentioned that I would be contacting you. I wrote freelance articles for [NAME] at [NAME] Magazine before I decided to focus on writing fiction for young adults.
My novel, PANDEMIC, is like the movie Contagion from a teen point of view. I’ve always been fascinated with young adult survival stories (such as Life As We Knew It and Fever 1793). My goal was to create a damaged main character who manages to heal through tragedy.
In PANDEMIC, a deadly strain of bird flu creates chaos in Lilianna Snyder’s small New Jersey town. As the death toll mounts, schools and businesses close. Grocery shelves empty and remain unfilled. The disease leaves Lil’s father quarantined, her mother trapped abroad, and her best friend dead.
Lil is still reeling from an unwanted sexual encounter with a beloved teacher at her high school which has left her emotionally withdrawn. She attempts to isolate herself, but even staying home alone isn’t safe when the teacher repeatedly tries to contact her and dangerous looters steal her entire food supply.
Desperate and afraid, Lil reluctantly befriends another sophomore, Jay Martinez, who cares more about Lil than he admits. Love is the last thing she wants. Safety is the first thing she needs. To gain both, she must confront the sexual predator from her past and survive the harrowing present.
Relating to marketability, this April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. While the assault is not the main focus of my story, it gives teen victims a main character they can identify with. And I think with movies like Contagion and new adult nonfiction books like Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic, the possibility of a pandemic will be of interest to young adults. While I’ve read historical YA fiction about the Spanish Influenza of 1918, I have not come across any contemporary YA influenza pandemic novels in my market research.
My book writing credits include two nonfiction books: Publishing (2005, about careers in the field) and Avril Lavigne (2007, a biography about the singer) both published by Lucent Books, a Gale subsidiary. I’ve also written a dozen articles for children, in addition to thirty articles for adults. I’ve been an active SCBWI member for ten years.
PANDEMIC is complete at 64,000 words. Please let me know if you would be interested in reading the manuscript.
Thank you for your consideration.
Yvonne Ventresca’s latest young adult novel, BLACK FLOWERS, WHITE LIES will be published by Sky Pony Press in October 2016. Her debut YA novel, PANDEMIC, won a 2015 Crystal Kite Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and was recently released in paperback. Yvonne’s other works include the short story “Escape to Orange Blossom,” which was selected for the dystopian anthology PREP FOR DOOM, along with two nonfiction books, PUBLISHING (Careers for the 21st Century) and AVRIL LAVIGNE (People in the News). She is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. You can learn more about Yvonne and her books at YvonneVentresca.com. You can also connect with her on social media: