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Please keep in mind that I'm no query guru, but I have read a considerable amount of query slush thanks to Query Kombat. (And that is a lot of repeating of the word query.) I might have an edge on what works and what doesn't. But as in all such critiquing, the suggestions are mainly subjective. Or in other words, take it with a grain of salt and see if others agree with me. SO here goes, Query #6.
Dear ______________, (Blank is my favorite agent!)
Fifteen year-old Gavin (Gavin is one of my favorite names. I deny it has anything to do with Gavin DeGraw.) is suave, commanding, and brilliant... until he logs off the internet and reality reveals the opposite(Why not use something specific here? ...until he logs off the internet and can't look people in the eye). Swearing off computer hacking (Where did hacking come in? I assumed he's trolling chat rooms. That's the problem with not being specific.) , he’s accepted to the prestigious and mysterious (Secretive might be a better word.) Edgar Doyle Institute of Criminology where he and three new friends stumble upon the work of a criminal mastermind. They’re soon tangled in the web of a secret society bent on stealing precious relics of American History (like the Liberty Bell. George Washington's recipe for root beer. Specifics.).
Thirsty to prove that he has what it takes to make it in the Institute, Gavin gets back behind the computer to find (repeat on 'find.' locate? track?) the mastermind. Gavin and his friends quickly find themselves in over their heads against a violent group of thieves with the infamous Louis Von Deaux at the helm.(Okay. Why call him the mastermind then suddenly name him? He's not a real person. The reader isn't going to go 'ah ha! I knew it!' There's no reason to spring the name on us. And infamous doesn't tell us much about him. Specifics. What does he do that is violent. That would also help with the stakes.) But when the friends realize one of their dads is in on the robberies, loyalties are frayed and their newly-formed friendship is put to the test. Hiding behind the anonymity of the computer can only take Gavin so far; (Yikes. Avoid the semi-colon. Straight sharp sentences in a query.) to save their lives, he'll have to bring the confident persona he wears on the net into real life before time runs out. (I'm not seeing why their lives are in danger. You've failed to give us a specific threat to the mc and his friends. What does it mean 'time runs out'? Runs out on what? It's cliche and super ominous. Stealing historical items is hardly a threat to the world.)
SHADOWS OF LIBERTY is the first in a series of four books told in first person POV through Gavin and his three friends.(It's nice you have a series. Many agents like that. It might not be so nice they are already written. An agent might be thinking why is this author just now trying to get an agent. It smells of newbie. Stick with has 'series potential' or maybe 'is the first in a planned series of four...) I have written several articles for the Levittown Tribune and have a Master’s Degree in English Literature. When I’m not writing, I’m teaching in Levittown, NY.
If you would like to read more about Shadows of Liberty, I have a completed manuscript waiting upon your request.(This is assumed. Where is the word count? I'm sure agents are going to suspect there is something iffy about the count if it is not here. And I don't know the genre. YA thriller maybe?) I thank you for your time and consideration. I can be reached at *redacted* (The personal information usually goes after your name.)Thank you,
I think this query is missing a clear set of stakes. All I know is that the mastermind is stealing artifacts and this may cost Gavin his friends. If their lives are in danger be clear about how. Maybe Louis likes to collect hacker's thumbs. Maybe he has a cement mixed and ain't afraid to drop people in it.
A book about a young hacker sounds like a fun, fast-paced adventure, but that is not coming through yet in this query. It's very close, but not quite there.