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Abby
January 7th, 2004, 10:41 PM
Hi everyone! I'm hoping to interest an agent in my novel, and I would greatly appreciate feedback on my query letter (below). Thanks!

Dear _________________,

Thomas Hill telepathically absorbs knowledge, leaving him with the mind of an adult at the age of eleven. Jaded by this secret ability, and by his crippling spinal disease, he points out the psychological infirmities of everyone around him. His only two friends are Cherise, a fellow orphan who refuses to speak, and twenty-year-old Alex, a gentle giant who hides inside his isolated mansion, mothered under the watchful eye of his familyís caretaker, Hannah. When Thomas develops a treatment for his illness, he finds himself a reluctant celebrity, and discovers an unlikely ally in a fledgling reporter, Meri.

His fame also brings stalkers, people whose minds Thomas cannot read and who are seeking information about Alex. Before Thomas and his friends can determine the agenda of these nameless enemies, they are seized and hurled into a brutal alien world where mind readers use pain to discipline their countless slaves. The Torth appear to be human, yet their mental abilities and lack of emotion mark them as something else. Deprived of his medicine, Thomas strives to learn their telepathic language and gains access to their elite society. He abandons his friends in order to survive, with the fragile hope of finding a way to save them before Alex is ceremonially executed to satisfy an arcane Torth law identifying him as a threat. But siding with his captors means risking the loss of Thomasís own humanity.

The Nameless is a science fiction novel of 123,000 words, and is the first volume of a fully outlined series. In the vein of Tad Williamsís Otherland saga, Thomas, Alex, and their stranded friends are plunged into a realm of danger and illusion, and must unravel the mystery of their circumstances if they are to defeat the shadowy forces that seek to rule and destroy them.

This is my sixth completed novel, and the first that I am actively seeking to publish. My short stories have been published in webzines, including Neverary and Shining Waters Fantasy Literature, and my animated short films have been screened at national and international film festivals. Please let me know if I may send you either my completed manuscript or sample chapters. Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,
Abby Goldsmith (http://www.abbygoldsmith.com/)

kahnovitch
January 8th, 2004, 07:56 AM
Hello and welcome!

Just one thing that sticks out Abbey, is the synopsis begins before you've introduced yourself and the story.
I would think you would introduce yourself and the story first and then give the synopsis.
On second thoughts I'd paste the synopsis in between the two paragraphs at the bottom as then it would read;

Introduction to the story.
Synopsis.
Personal info.

I think that would be a better format.

JRMurdock
January 8th, 2004, 06:07 PM
A few of things.

1) Who are you FIRST immedately followed by what have you done. They want to know if you're an established writer before they want to read about what you've written. If you tell about your story first...toss.

2) Shorten the portion about your story IF if goes onto a second page. Your query letter should be one page, no more (most agents and publishers won't even finish the first page) If your query letter is more than a page...toss

3) Don't compare yourself to another author. If the agent/publisher doesn't like that author...toss. If they DO like that author and your writing is EXACTLY like that author (which you wouldn't want anyway)...toss.

Other than that, looks good. I would recomend looking up a few resources online as well as far as writing query letters. And of course best of luck. I hope to see you in a bookstore soon...:)

Maus99

primemover
January 8th, 2004, 07:13 PM
You might want to go to writers.net and click on the agents section. They have good articles on writing a query letter.

I think you should add a very brief intro line--and trim down your description into the bare bones detailing the start, middle and including the ending. I would say keep your writing credits for last as you have it already. If you start with them the agent might think you are trying to boast.
An agent wants to know what your story is about first--then whether you are serious enough about writing or have credentials that he or she can use in selling your work. I would say dont add the stuff about the short films unless they are festivals that can be recognized by the agent. If they are--then mention the most prominent ones!

milamber_reborn
January 8th, 2004, 10:47 PM
I concur with what has been said. Trim that synopsis to two tight, interesting sentences. 1. If an editor doesn't like the sound of it, they might not bother reading the MS; 2. Editor doesn't want the story given away before they read it

Abby
January 9th, 2004, 01:47 AM
Thanks, guys!

I'm going to see if I can shorten up that synopsis. The query letter as it is now fits on one page--but just barely.

I have looked up samples of "good" query letters and researched on the web. Some of the advice online does seem to go against common sense. Most of them say that the author should leap right into a short synopsis of the story, without any personal introduction.

Pretty much all of them say that the author should give away the ending. They want to see if it's saleable. However, this ending thing is a problem for me, because my book is the first in a series--so the ending is not entirely conclusive.

I've been advised that the author should state what s/he does for a living, and go into detail about anything relevant to writing. So I've expounded upon my short film credits (they are somewhat impressive, if I do say so myself).

Lastly, I want to say that this is a nerve-wracking process! I have a lot of confidence that my novel is good...fifteen out of fifteen test readers asked to read the second novel in the series, and I only know two of them personally...but there are only a few agents who handle science fiction. I'm afraid of not being read. They'll be judging me solely based on this one-page query letter. That's a lot of pressure. Ahh! *tweak*

Calis
January 9th, 2004, 05:49 AM
good luck Abby.

If you ever need a coverboy, agent, bodyguard, girls...guys even, drug takerrrr keeper awayer....I'm your man. :D

juzzza
January 9th, 2004, 08:08 AM
Hi Abby,

Sounds like some of the advice out there is confusing query letters with synopsis, revealing the ending and so on is advice I have seen referring to synopsis and NOT query letters.

As a few have already made suggestions that I would have made, I would just like to say that the story sounds excellent, it certainly made me want to pick up your book so good luck with finding someone to represent you.

On a side note I followed your link and think your artwork is simply fantastic, I LOVE big fat monster girl LOL.

I will PM you about something that is not relevant to these boards.

Juzzza

primemover
January 9th, 2004, 09:13 AM
A synopsis is a summary, either brief or detailed. From what I have seen, most AAR sanctioned agencies want to see a query letter with story description, outline, or brief synopsis included in the page. It is also a test of your writing ability- being able to summarize your story in 2 to 3 sentences, or 1 to 2 paragraphs.

juzzza
January 9th, 2004, 09:22 AM
I think a summary within the letter is necessary but many agents when they request a full synopsis expect chapter by chapter and of course wish to see any twists and the end included. This is usually a seperate document to the query letter itself.

The basic plot, the struggle, key message a little about the characters enough to interest the agent is a good start in the query letter.

If your letter doesn't grab them they probably won't read the sample chapters or synopsis.