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Thread: The Infamous Query Letter
October 15th, 2004, 03:36 AM #1
The Infamous Query Letter
Does anyone here have experience with query letter writing? I'm seeking feedback. Any and all criticism is welcome.
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.
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.
October 15th, 2004, 05:55 AM #2
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.
October 15th, 2004, 02:47 PM #3
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.
October 15th, 2004, 02:55 PM #4
What you've got there sounds very professional to me but I've never sent a query letter.
October 15th, 2004, 04:32 PM #5
Originally Posted by Expendable
- Join Date
- Jun 2003
- Indiana, USA
Short and to the point is good.
October 16th, 2004, 12:25 AM #6
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.
October 18th, 2004, 07:05 PM #7
Don't tamper with your pitch -- you've got it down. This is shorter in the description part than previous versions I've seen. While you could go a little longer in the description part of the letter -- another paragraph if you wanted, the summary description you have fits the story and sounds interesting, I think. The author bio is perfect. Are you sending a synopsis with the letter or no? You could add "a young telepathic genius," but I know you're leary about making too much of the hero's age.
October 19th, 2004, 03:24 AM #8
Thanks, Kat! I couldn't resist tampering. I'm overly worried that the story isn't coming across in the awesome, kick-ass way I envision it. I think this one might sound better:
My 112,000 word novel, Slaves to the New World, is about a conflict between the Torth--an emotionless, totalitarian society of telepaths--and their brutally oppressed, non-telepathic slaves. At the heart of this conflict is Thomas Hill, a mind reader who lives in present-day America and believes himself unique in his ability. When he learns of his otherworldly Torth heritage, he is torn between a desire to join the godlike Torth, or to remain loyal to his friends, who are targeted by the Torth for slavery and death.
Now I'm working on my synopsis . . . and my eye twitch is back.
Last edited by Abby; October 19th, 2004 at 03:26 AM. Reason: forgot a line
October 20th, 2004, 01:10 PM #9
"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 like this one better. It's clearer, gets across Thomas' moral dilemma and is catchy. The second one focuses on the Toth, not Thomas, and doesn't sound as interesting to me.
October 20th, 2004, 04:16 PM #10
I don't like the re-write either. First one was much better.
October 20th, 2004, 09:14 PM #11
Thanks for your feedback. How about this one?
Slaves to the New World is about a telepathic genius, Thomas Hill, who lives in present-day America and believes himself to be unique in his ability to absorb knowledge--until other telepaths seize him and his closest acquaintances, and transport them to a world where mind readers brutalize their non-telepathic slaves. Thomas is manipulated into a game of politics among his otherworldly kin. But when Thomas's friends from Earth become leaders of a slave revolt, Thomas accepts a subordinate position among the slaves in a quest to regain his humanity and self-respect.
This is really a summary of the first two books in the series. I hope that wouldn't be a problem. I just want to get someone interested in reading the synopsis and/or first chapters, and I'm up front about the fact that it's a trilogy in my synopsis.
Last edited by Abby; October 20th, 2004 at 09:59 PM. Reason: changed it
October 21st, 2004, 12:01 PM #12
It's still not as good, and now you're summarizing two books, not one, so if they read the manuscript and find it doesn't have the things that you told them would be there (since they are in Book 2,) they'll be confused. I still vote for the first version.
October 21st, 2004, 03:31 PM #13
Thanks, all of you. One more. How does this one sound over the previous versions?
Slaves to the New World is about a burgeoning conflict between the Torth--a totalitarian society of mind readers--and their brutally oppressed, non-telepathic slaves. At the heart of this conflict is Thomas Hill, a mind reader who grew up among humans, and who betrays his human friends in an attempt to save them from slavery, earning himself a place among the telepathic elite. But as Thomas loses his humanity among the emotionless Torth, his friends become heroes among the slaves.
When I read these pitches to myself, I'm afraid my novel sounds like a wacky YA book, or a meandering philosophical literary piece. That's why I'm so desperate for your opinions.
Last edited by Abby; October 22nd, 2004 at 05:05 AM. Reason: changed it
October 22nd, 2004, 06:31 PM #14Originally Posted by Abby
October 22nd, 2004, 07:00 PM #15Originally Posted by Abby