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Thread: The Infamous Query Letter
October 23rd, 2004, 03:04 AM #16
I like the first one best, too.
October 24th, 2004, 11:03 PM #17
Thanks, all of you. I'll stick with the first one, and try to keep it memorized for the World Fantasy convention this coming week. I'll let you know how it was when I get back!
October 24th, 2004, 11:09 PM #18
Wish I could go with you.
Have fun! Don't worry about the book! You will anyway but try!
October 25th, 2004, 01:15 PM #19
I agree with KatG. Query letters are so difficult to compose, simply because you really never know what the person on the receiving end is actually looking for. I think that your bio is concise and to the point. The synopsis is perhaps a little brief. It might not give the reader enough sense of the depth of your story or of the market you anticipate for it. Adult science fiction is a very broad area and it has suffered in sales recently due to the incredibly high expectations of readers today. With the advances in science, it is hard to write sci/fi that is technically enthralling. The YA sci/fi market has suffered even more for those same reasons.
I think what you wrote is very good. My only advice would be to enhance the synopsis slightly if you can.
October 25th, 2004, 02:13 PM #20Originally Posted by GemQuest
I actually like the first synopsis a lot, as it's straight to the point and gives the central dilemma nicely.
One thing that could be done is tell the editor where the focus of the novel is.
Style? (Interesting modes of presentation...)
Idea? (interesting twist on the concept of telepathy, impact of telepathy on society...)
If the focus was on plot, the synopsis would have to be expanded, I agree. The way it is now, I'd suspect the focus to be on character.
October 25th, 2004, 10:05 PM #21
Yup, the focus is on character. I've had a few people advise me to use a different pitch for different editors and agents. If they're looking for character-oriented stories, I could use my more character-oriented synopsis. If they want plot and premise, I'll have one for that.
I wish I could go in-depth into my story, but the summary has got to fit in a query letter, dagnammit.
October 26th, 2004, 01:30 PM #22
And just how are you going to figure out whether they like character or plot better exactly?
Editors and agents do have personal preferences of what they like in a story. One editor, for instance, may be very into military sf and have handled a lot of those. An agent may really dislike time travel stories and turn down those unless the agent thinks it's really well-done. But the degree to which those likes and dislikes impact their interest varies widely, and they are unlikely to tell you, most of the time, what they actually do and do not like.
Regardless, while I know it's very popular to talk about character-oriented and plot-oriented fiction as if they were two separate beings, the reality is that character and plot are hopelessly intertwined. Therefore, you talk character and what happens to the main characters in the plot (i.e. both.) If you start talking about plot, as if the characters are secondary, then what happens is what we saw with Abby's other brief descriptions -- focus on the world-building (which to most editors and agents is very boring,) and increasingly vague statements about the plot action that don't provide much info. Even if your characters are there just for fun rather than fully-fleshed out creatures, they still drive the action of the plot and the plot causes characters to make choices in reaction. And tailoring pitches is -- well I won't say don't do it -- but most editors and agents are not going to be swayed by the style of your pitch, which is something I've brought up before.
November 6th, 2004, 02:14 AM #23Originally Posted by KatG
I want to thank everyone here who helped me with my query letter. It worked! I've had an agent request the first three chapters and synopsis. This is the first time this has happened for me, and even if the agent doesn't request the entire manuscript, I feel a lot better about my query letter.
Here's the pitch I used:
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 human friends, who are targeted by the Torth for slavery and death.
Thanks again! I've posted my report about the World Fantasy Convention in my blog, at http://www.abbygoldsmith.com/blog/
Last edited by Abby; November 6th, 2004 at 03:22 AM. Reason: oops! wrong info
November 6th, 2004, 11:34 AM #24
Yaaaaaaay! You go girl! ^__^
And I'm one step closer to finally getting my hands on your book! Mmmmm!
November 12th, 2004, 12:51 AM #25
Congrats, I think the first was the best, mostly because you start out with their statement about wanting character driven stories, then you start by explaining the character.
If you want to make sure they understand this isn't a YA story, say so, use modifiers like "gritty", "violent", "adult", (better yet, goto the horror section and borrow some of their words).
Just a thought.
Last edited by MrBF1V3; November 12th, 2004 at 12:53 AM. Reason: New info
November 20th, 2004, 01:14 AM #26
Thanks. I'm still waiting to hear from the agent . . . still trying not to get my hopes too high . . . and still struggling with restructuring the book to make it fit a good sales model.
November 2nd, 2006, 06:36 AM #27
The (promised) Query Letter Post
So here it is, sharpen your barbs!
Dear (Person Who Controls My Fate:
I am writing to ask that you consider undertaking representation of my debut novel, RoseThorn, a 158,000 word fantasy set in an imagined world. RoseThorn tells the story of Cenith and Caladon, princes of the city-state of Adan, and the deadly conflict between these brothers that will shatter their family, destroy their city, and place the entire world in peril.
When a horde of barbarians threatens Adan, Cenith rides with the warriors of the city to face the invaders; the queen of Adan, however, tasks Caladon with a dangerous and secret quest to recover a legendary weapon that will save the city. Caladon survives the challenges of the wilderness, freezing cold, hunger, exhaustion, andónot leastódeadly monsters, only to discover that the quest was ill-fated from the beginning. Empty-handed, he returns to Adan to find the city defeated, his family and all of his people captive, and Cenith at the head of the invading horde as their Black General.
Caladon escapes back into the wilderness with Feah, a woman of Adan. Together they seek to build a new life. Cenith, however, fears his brotherís revenge and sends spies to track them down. When Feah dies at the hands of Cenithís assassins, Caladon finally returns to Adan with only one reason left to live.
I am also seeking representation for my next project, currently in the planning stage, a contemporary fantasy duology. The first volume of the duology will be titled Ghost, Ghoul, Goblin, Witch, and the second volume Demon, Devil, Dragon, Warlock.
Thank you in advance for your consideration. I have enclosed (whatever sample pages the agent requests) and a SASE for your reply. An e-mail response would suffice, however, if such is your preference. I look forward to hearing from you.
November 2nd, 2006, 07:00 AM #28
- Join Date
- Mar 2002
- In the Shire
- Blog Entries
Here is one of mine, I am in two minds whether to include the blurb about "Seven Threads" now that is out of print, so I left it out of this one. When I include it, it makes it a two pager letter....
I attach herewith the synopsis and first one hundred pages of my novel, Oracle, for your consideration.
Pugh Avinguard is a career militia officer, and has been ordered to protect a member of Timeholm’s High Forum, one Joshua Calvinward. Train crashes, riots and a terrorist shooting at the High Forum building are just some of the events Pugh faces while doing this duty. But it is the scheming of a small religious order, “The Inner Ring,” that brings Pugh’s personal past crashing into his present, with tumultuous repercussions, both for Pugh and all around him.
At the centre of the maelstrom engulfing Pugh, is Oracle, an autistic Cassandra, unaware of the stuttered words flowing from their mouth. A person turned into an “it”, a Glimpser.
I am a fifty-one year-old mother of two. I have a love of history and reading. I work part time as an Admin Clerk for the local council, and split my spare time between my home, family and my passion for writing.
As to my previous publications;
My short story, “Death Won’t Be Cheated”, was accepted for the third issue of the award-winning magazine, Event Horizon by Mam-Tor Publishing.(The magazine was recently voted Best Graphic Novel of 2006 by the London International Festival of Science Fiction and Film)
My flash fiction story “Aftermath”, was published in the first edition of the Australian Anthology, FlashSpec. This book has been reviewed by Horrorscope; the following is an extract of that review;
“'Aftermath' by ######### is a well-constructed meditation on beauty and survival in a post-apocalyptic world.”
Last edited by Holbrook; November 2nd, 2006 at 07:02 AM.
November 2nd, 2006, 10:20 AM #29
Well I now know a bit more about both of these books, but the letters are both not at all what I would recommend. I have to work today, but I'll try to do comments this weekend, and some general query letter info.
November 2nd, 2006, 12:59 PM #30Ranke LidyekGuest
I like the synopsis in that it seems to indicate that you know your way around a plot (Cenith's betrayal). As for a query, I'm not certain. Feel free to email me later on with questions as I'll think this one over. The one thing I do feel you should add is a sort of comparison of two books that might relay the "feel" of your novel, the atmosphere.
And perhaps what separates it from other fantasies as well.
I think the main thing is that if you send anything out, make sure that opening sings. If you can keep them baited past the first 25 words, you have a chance.
From what I've read on your blog (excerpts), I think you have definite talent.
Don't give up and keep writing!