Hi Miss Snark,
I've written a YA mystery novel with an African-American narrator and takes place in an upper middle class setting. My impetus for writing this was noticing the lack of "fun" YA novels (i.e. Gossip Girl, Princess Diaries) with African-American characters. Most of the YA novels that focus on African-American characters concentrate on the lower end of the economic spectrum with plots revolving around growing up in foster care or having to deal with drug dealers. This is not to diminish those books but I feel there's also a need for lighter fare like the African-American version of Sweet Valley High. (Okay, go ahead and laugh but I and my friends spent a TON of money on those books 15-20 years ago.) (Miss Snark NEVER laughs when someone combines the phrase "I spent tons of money" with "book")
My question to you is whether this motivation has a role in the query letter I am preparing to send out to agents.
From your blog, I know you emphasize the writing of the submission over that of the query letter even though some of your colleagues feel differently. I wanted your thoughts on whether or not to mention the specific target audience, here the overlooked upper class African-Americans, in the query letter. Could it give me an extra hook that might set my submission apart for consideration? Or is it too much like pandering? Thanks in advance for your thoughts on the matter.
LOTS of people write "the novels they want to read". I hear that all the time. That's what you're doing. If anyone is stupid enough to think there is no market for this book you tell them to google Tonya Lewis Lee. Mentioning this is an underserved market is a good idea. I'm always looking for those.