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  1. #1
    enslaved to my writing Abby's Avatar
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    The Infamous Query Letter

    Does anyone here have experience with query letter writing? I'm seeking feedback. Any and all criticism is welcome.

    Dear ______,

    I recently heard about your new position with [agency], and that you're interested in adult science fiction that's character-oriented. My 112,000 word novel, Slaves to the New World, is about a telepathic genius, Thomas Hill, who lives in modern America and believes himself to be unique in his ability to absorb knowledge--until other telepaths show up and begin to stalk him. The mind readers soon transport Thomas and his friends to an alien world of advanced technology and brutal slavery, and offer Thomas an opportunity to accept telepathic godhood at the price of forsaking his friends to slavery and death.

    I'm a graduate of the 2004 Odyssey writing workshop, and my short stories have been featured in Cyberpulp Magazine, Neverary, Twilight Times, Deep Magic, and other web publications. I also write and direct short films, some of which have been hosted on MotionZoo.com and screened at international film festivals.

    Please let me know if I can send you the first chapters of Slaves to the New World, or the complete manuscript. Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,
    Abigail Goldsmith

    Enclosures:
    SASE


    Okay, so does my book sound stupid? Do I sound stupid? Did I make the agent sound stupid? Is there anything in here that seems annoying or extraneous?
    P.S.--If you reply (and I will appreciate it), I'd also appreciate hearing about your past experience with literary agents and query letters.

  2. #2
    Registered User SubZero61992's Avatar
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    I don't see any reason to talk about his new position, or why he would want you to say it in this, Query Letter
    Otherwise, I suppose everything would be alright.
    Though somethings if I were him I would skip through, such as the past of yourself. But that may be important to him, I dont know.

    I havent had any experience with this at all.

  3. #3
    enslaved to my writing Abby's Avatar
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    Thanks for your input, SubZero. This is a one-case-scenario; I would change the opening line of the query letter depending on who I'm querying.
    Most agencies want to know about your previous writing experience.

  4. #4
    infomaniac Expendable's Avatar
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    What you've got there sounds very professional to me but I've never sent a query letter.

  5. #5
    Narcoleptic Insomniac
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    Quote Originally Posted by Expendable
    What you've got there sounds very professional to me but I've never sent a query letter.
    I agree.

    Short and to the point is good.

  6. #6
    enslaved to my writing Abby's Avatar
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    Thanks, guys. I've received some advice on other web forums that I should compress my small press publications to just "web publications," since most agents/editors aren't familiar with the smaller venues. I'm also going to tamper with my "pitch" and see if I can't summarize the story better. I hate summarizing.

  7. #7
    Creator of "SENTI" G W Pickle's Avatar
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    Thumbs up RE to infamous Query letter

    Abby & other interested in Query Letters & book proposals:

    I'm fairly new to writing books. When I started my first book I was about 18k on the word count before I knew what POV was. That was 3 yrs ago, since then I learned that and much more from writing books & an online crit group. Sorry to say this group is no longer around.
    After several fustrating attempts at Query's & synopsis, I started thinking about hiring someone to write them for me, Then I found this book from Writer's Market Books "Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript. by Cynthia Laufenberg.
    It gives plenty of examples and shows you things to do or to avoid. It really helped me. FYI, It helped me to get my first book sold. I'm a firm beliver in this type of self help books. Some I've wasted money on were nothing more than someone telling me how they got published. This one really has usful info. Even Marshall also has an excellent book called "Getting Your Novel Published" Mr Marshall is famous for his book on writing "The Marshall Plan"
    If you're into outlining your story first then this is the book for you. I don't outline, but it still has plenty of useful info.
    There are plenty of good books out there written by agents & editors who know what they're talking about. All I can do is tell you my limited knowledge about the mechanics of writing these things.
    I hope this helps.

    G W Pickle

  8. #8
    Ranke Lidyek
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    Smile a thanks

    Kat and all,
    Thanks for the help with the query. I incorporated as many of the suggestions as I could and sent out a round of queries last night. This morning I already had a request for a partial. A minor victory, to be sure, but one I don't take lightly. My other queries produced only form letters and I know that this one is near the mark. I also know that the first chapter is dead on, and that I can accept being judged on the merits of my writing.
    Now it's a matter of finding someone who believes enough and knows someone who they feel they can sell it to. I found the right bale of hay, and hopefully I'll stumble on that needle.
    Thanks again and wish me luck.

  9. #9
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    For what it is worth, my latest query letter... (come on BrianC, if I can do it I am sure you can do better)

    Dear

    I would like to submit the following query for my 160,000 word romantic fantasy novel, Oracle, for your consideration.

    In an ancient and mystical world, visions of possible futures can only be seen by a Glimpser. A Glimpser is not born, but made, by the pseudo-scientific actions of a religious sect, the Inner Ring. This sect is bent on bringing about the return of the Goddess’ prophet, the Seer, to lead them into an era of secular power. Oracle is one such Glimpser, an autistic Cassandra.

    The maelstrom that exists in Oracle’s mind is mirrored in its world, for Timeholm is in the grip of an industrial revolution. Steam power is now king; trains criss-cross the land, huge smoking factories tower over once sleepy towns. The governing body, the High Forum, is under attack from within by reform-minded activists. The rigid class system, once the glue that held Timeholm society together, is being challenged by a bill brought forth before the legislature by member Joshua Calvinward that will emancipate the working class.

    Oracle’s arrival at a train station sets in motion a series of events that plunge Captain Pugh Avinguard into the heart of these turbulent times. Pugh has been charged with protecting Joshua Calvinward, but train crashes, riots and the murder of Calvinward at his moment of triumph, all send Timeholm into chaos.

    Laced through this is Pugh’s personal horror, for the person Oracle once was, was his wife, who by a twist of fate is partly restored to him, yet in the wings the Inner Ring are waiting to claim her as their Seer re-born. Pugh is forced to act when she is kidnapped, but the rescue attempt becomes the signal for the Goddess herself to act through Oracle, both to right an old wrong and ensure a future of continued change and growth for the world.

    My story “Death won’t be Cheated”, was accepted for publication in the award-winning graphic literary magazine Event Horizon, published by Mam-Tor Publishing. My flash fiction story “Aftermath”, was published in the Australian anthology FlashSpec. I am the co-author, with Dan Beiger, of the short story anthology, "Seven Threads, by EQ books.

    I would be glad to send a part or full manuscript if you wish to read further, and I thank you for your time in considering this query.


    Regards

  10. #10
    Ranke Lidyek
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    Thumbs up Much better

    Quote Originally Posted by Holbrook View Post
    For what it is worth, my latest query letter... (come on BrianC, if I can do it I am sure you can do better)
    Holbrook,
    This is much better. Romantic fantasy is a big seller right now, so I think you've done the right thing by mentioning this. My only reservation is the term, Glimpser, which feels a bit too obvious to me. The plot itself appears rich and interesting from this summary.
    I think you're onto something and wish you luck!

    Hopefully, those more credible will offer feedback as well.
    For me, this appears intriguing enough that I would ask for the first three chapters at least.

    Keep writing and get it out there!

    Ranke

  11. #11
    bmalone.blogspot.com BrianC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Holbrook View Post
    Laced through this is Pugh’s personal horror, for the person Oracle once was, was his wife, who by a twist of fate is partly restored to him, yet in the wings the Inner Ring are waiting to claim her as their Seer re-born.
    May I suggest:
    Laced through this is Pugh’s personal horror, for Oracle once was his wife,
    I'm still working on a rewrite and I've got a long weekend for it.

  12. #12
    sorry if this has been mentioned but ive only read the first page (yes im lazy)

    i read somewhere that you tried to include a synopsis of two books.


    imo you shouldnt try to do this unless you are a well known author who is garunteed sucess

    just pitch the first book, then if it sells well then introduce the other 7 odd book :P

  13. #13
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Overall, very nice, Holbrook. Couple of edits from me:

    Try: "Laced through this is Pugh’s personal horror, for the person Oracle once had been, was his wife, who by a twist of fate is partly restored to him. Yet, in the wings, the Inner Ring are waiting to claim her as their Seer re-born."

    And, author bio:

    My story “Death won’t be Cheated”, was accepted for publication in the award-winning graphic literary magazine Event Horizon, published by Mam-Tor Publishing. My flash fiction story “Aftermath”, was published in the Australian anthology FlashSpec. I am the co-author, with Dan Beiger, of the short story anthology, "Seven Threads, by EQ books.

    Editor adds much oomph to author. So you do really need to mention that you are the fiction editor for Event Horizon. If you are worried that this invalidates your short story pub. credit with Event Horizon, put it as: My short story, "Death Won't Be Cheated," was accepted for publication in the award-winning graphic literary magazine Event Horizon, put out by Mam-Tor Publishing, and I subsequently became Event Horizon's fiction editor. Etc.

    I am not at all certain that calling "Oracle" romance fiction is the right way to go. I realize you've not had much luck with various avenues and are now trying some of the romance publishers doing fantasy, but to call the novel a romance is a big misnomer, in my view. Not that "Oracle" does not contain a love story -- and a powerful one -- but it is not a romance, in which two people encounter each other and fall for each other. It is likely to confuse the folk you're approaching with that label. Plus, your short credits are not romance ones at all.

    I did run into some Luna books on the shelves this week, and they are definitely aggressively branching out, and will likely be a full-flung fantasy operation in another five years or so. So it's certainly not a bad idea to try them. But I think the nature of the Oracle may short-circuit you in pushing the romance angle. It's really the devastating tragedy of what has happened to her -- of what has been lost -- that is the emotional power cell of this story, IMO. But hey, all you've got to do is get them to yes, right? Then the real work begins!

  14. #14
    Edited for submission Holbrook's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments Kat, all duly noted

    As to the romantic fantasy bit I put that on a couple of the queries to see what would happen , others just have fantasy. I have a batch of 8 email queries out, though two I have given up on, it being over 2 months and the agents saying they only get back to you if interested.

    To be honest I am not expecting to hear from anyone before Christmas now.

  15. #15

    Help for my query letter.

    I have done multiple editing but I really need a fresh look on my query before I send it out. I am worried about the lenght as I have read people stating the book introduction should only be three sentence. Any thoughts?

    Life or death, it’s all part of the show.

    In a world where death is entertainment, Axia is meant to die for the pleasure of others. A genetically and physically enhanced gladiator, she has been trained since birth in hopes of surviving as many fights as possible. When Malit, her master, betrays her, knowingly sending her to an arranged death, the needles and blades implanted in her limbs barely save her.

    The emotional perfidy causes several new abilities to surface, stemming from dormant genes no one knew she had.

    Axia's new abilities make her a liability as they are illegal in the fighting arena. Malit doesn't know who tampered with Axia's genes and only has one solution; one she never even dreamed was possible: he will set her free.

    Away from the arena and from calculated death, Axia learns about the world. Love and acceptance help her deal with emotions she had been taught to repress in the past.
    But her freedom is short-lived. Sfax, her creator, comes after her, wanting to revive the illegal project to which she is the key. Axia has never gone down without fighting, and she is not about to start.

    BEYOND THE DREAMS is a completed coming-of-age science-fiction novel with hints of horror and romance rounding at 55,000 words.

    Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

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