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  1. #436
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Thanks EMMAXIS. Glad you liked it.

    Ok, KatG, I think I've finally got a copy of this letter that you'll like. You made me think about some things which I had had in my mind but did not really know how to say. Now I've got them down. Hopefully this will be the last copy I'll post. Again, the body of the tale is not much changed, as that did not seem to be where I was needing to change things. However, I did add something to the vampire so you may want to read it again just for the flow of it all.

    Also, at this point the letter is just over 1 page long (a single line before my signature) so I'm a little worried about length. Do I need to cut down at all and, if so, any thoughts as to what could be cut or reworded to be shorter?

    .................

    Dear ________,

    I heard that [Publisher Name] is accepting novella submissions in the fantasy genre. I believe my contemporary fantasy, Halloween themed, 18,000 word novella, The Return of the Red King, may be of interest to you.

    Rory is a dreamer. An artist, his imagination is constantly going, making him a bit of an outcast amongst his fifth-grade classmates in his small town school. But there’s a new girl in class, Ophelia, and the only empty seat is right next to Rory.

    Befriending each other over Rory’s mountain of stored drawings in his desk, they quickly discover that they have a number of things in common, including a shared birthday of October 31. Halloween. Both possessing an obsession for the holiday only partly sprung from it being their birthdays, their thoughts come to be consumed by it as the day approaches. Thus they embark on a celebration of the Fall: jumping in piles of colorful leaves, enjoying desserts fresh from the oven, running through hay mazes and, of course, the carving of their jack-o-lanterns.

    Strange, odd occurrences taking place during these adventures, Rory begins to suspect Ophelia of not being all she claims. When, after trick-or-treating, he is awakened by her to go on a midnight adventure to the local haunted house, Rory can feel nothing but anxiety for what they might find inside. However, the house is empty when they arrive. Except, that is, for dust, dead bugs, and the vampire upstairs who will stop at nothing to drink Rory’s blood.

    The Return of the Red King is a novella of, largely, nostalgic quality in praise of the glory that is October in small town America. A tale of innocence and childhood remembered. And lost. The first in a series of mature novellas detailing the adventures of Rory and Ophelia, it tells of how they met as children and became friends. The road to this friendship laid with fun and laughter, it is paved with deceit and treachery and sealed with a desperate need that only the faith and love of a child for his friend can provide. All of the succeeding tales relating adventures and trials taking place long after this when they are both adults, this is the foundation of that story. Their story.

    To this end, as requested, I have included a (so many pages) page synopsis of both this particular story as well as a brief outline of the series to follow. I have also included the first chapter of my story for your consideration.

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

    Sincerely,

  2. #437
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Dear ________,

    [Cut this part -- I heard that [Publisher Name] is accepting novella submissions in the fantasy genre.] [Start here] I believe my 18,000 word dark fantasy novella, The Return of the Red King, may be of interest to you.

    Rory is a dreamer. An artist, his imagination is constantly going, making him a bit of an outcast amongst his fifth-grade classmates in his small town school. But there’s a new girl in class, Ophelia, and the only empty seat is right next to Rory.

    Befriending each other over Rory’s mountain of stored drawings in his desk, they quickly discover that they have a number of things in common, including a shared birthday of October 31. Halloween. Both possessing an obsession for the holiday only partly sprung from it being their birthdays, their thoughts come to be consumed by it as the day approaches. Thus they embark on a celebration of the Fall: jumping in piles of colorful leaves, enjoying desserts fresh from the oven, running through hay mazes and, of course, the carving of their jack-o-lanterns.

    Strange, odd occurrences taking place during these adventures, Rory begins to suspect Ophelia of not being all she claims. When, after trick-or-treating, he is awakened by her to go on a midnight adventure to the local haunted house, Rory can feel nothing but anxiety for what they might find inside. However, the house is empty when they arrive. Except, that is, for dust, dead bugs, and the vampire upstairs who will stop at nothing to drink Rory’s blood. [Okay, this adds some dark but it still could be YA.]

    [What I'm going to do here is a slight rewrite that is one way to go but may be entirely wrong for the book. So you need to look at that and if it's wrong, and calling it dark fantasy is wrong, then you need to think about what is this book, what is this series.]

    The Return of the Red King evokes the nostalgia and innocence of small town America -- and the dark secrets that can lurk underneath. It is the first in a series of proposed novellas, the start of a larger story of Rory and Ophelia as adults grappling with supernatural mystery and deceit that test the strength of their friendship over the years, a friendship forged in that unexpected Halloween night.

    As per your submission guidelines, I have included a (so many pages) page synopsis of both this particular story as well as a brief outline of the series to follow. I have also included the first chapter of my story for your consideration. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

    [Now, that makes it sound like more Stephen King/Ray Bradbury territory -- dark fantasy featuring at this point children. If it is not Stephen King/Ray Bradbury territory, if it is more Lake Wobegon territory -- slightly comic, nostalgia with an edge and a vampire -- then you will have to frame it that way. If it's meant to be more like Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, you need to frame it that way. You wrote the thing. You know what it is. They don't know what it is -- YA, dark fantasy, horror, gentle satire, poetic myth, etc. -- unless you tell them. So that's what the letter needs to do -- tell them what the tone is, and in your case, in relation to the series as a whole which will feature adults, not children/teens.

    Also, if there is a Christian factor to this story and the series, don't rule out the major mainstream Christian publishers like Thomas Nelson perhaps. They do retail trade well and they do a lot of fantasy fiction.]

  3. #438
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    It could very much be a YA tale. I have trouble accepting that as I don't think of myself as a YA author. Nothing wrong with YA, I just don't think of myself as writing one. But it probably is and if a publisher wants to accept and market it as that because that's where the niche they think they can sell it in, well then, alright. I want it published, I want to share it with people and I wouldn't mind making a bit of money doing it. Not that I'm only looking at paying publishers.

    As for what kind of fantasy, it is very much of an urban fantasy. Except for the fact that it takes place in a small town far away from the big city. In fact, I try not to bring too much of the town or "normal life" into the story because I want it to be about the this moment in time for the characters, which is outside of what's Normal just like a big holiday like Christmas or one of those vacations you remember forever is outside Normal.

    It could be dark fantasy as well. But there is no horror element that I associate with that. At least, none that I feel. There are frightening things, but not actual horror. The reader is made to understand what is going on to well for what I think a billing as horror requires. Supernatural? Definitely. The story, this and the series, have vampires, witches, wizards, druids, frankenstein monsters and on and on like that. It's gothic and supernatural, but the characters are outside the gothic. What it is most similar to in my experience is the tv show Supernatural. Without the blood and guts and horror. There is some, but not enough to be billed that way, I don't think.

    I do like your rewrite KatG. A good condensing of what I had that works well, even better than what I had because it is more condensed.

  4. #439
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    You know, I don't know a thing about query letters except that what works for one agent, may not work for another. (There are some who say 250 words - tops!)

    I like KatG's latest version of RedMage's query letter. I also liked the other versions, too. But I'm not an agent.

    However, I have read the story, so maybe I can help with the genre bit and the potential audience.

    For the audience, I'd say you could say this would attract a General Audience. The reason I say this is that there is a lot of lead and story into the fantasy bit at the end with the vampire, his dream and what he does with his sword. The story shows us glimpses and hints into a much larger world, but in this particular novella, there is not that much of it.

    Though it is a wonderful stand alone piece and I don't see why you shouldn't try to place it. Why not just say it's a general contemporary fantasy? Not dark, not urban, just contemporary fantasy?

  5. #440
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    It's not urban fantasy under the way they're currently using it. It's simply contemporary fantasy. If it's like Supernatural, then it's dark fantasy and that label is fine. Dark fantasy includes fairy tales, things that are goth but not

    General fiction imprints are an option. Many of them publish fantasy fiction, some may do novellas and it would open up your publishing list. A general fiction publisher might do the first one as YA, but a YA publisher is going to have little interest in the series because the kids don't progress from 10 years to young adulthood but instead switch to twenty somethings? So that's not going to work for them, unless they wanted one standalone, which is possible. So SFF publishers and general fiction imprints that do novellas are your best bets, with YA coming in third.

  6. #441
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    I was thinking dark fantasy but just wasn't sure it fit that completely. Thanks for the clarification that it does. And that, too, is where I've always thought (hoped) my work lay, with a bit older, genre crowd. YA would be ok, but it comes behind some of those other audiences.

    Thanks KatG and tmso! I will see what I can do with your suggestions to my letter and work on the story's synopsis and then let people know in the Post Your Progress thread when I send queries out. Thanks again!!

  7. #442
    I posted the initial version of this in its own thread and was reminded that this is the appropriate place (SORRY GANG!). Now that I've wrote a new draft, I'm hopeful this will work a bit better. This is, of course, the basic template I would use before adding individual notes to the editor/agent. What sort of things would be appropriate to put in a query letter? Obviously, if I'd met the person previously, I would say something to remind them of our conversation, but aside from that, I'm not certain. Some say to make connections to their client/authors, but I feel that would be forced. The agent I'm most interested in does expect you to personalize, and I chose her as a major target through agentquery.com since she represents the 3 niches within the market (YA, Spiritual, and Fantasy). In addition, one of her clients is an author I enjoy and who uses a good deal of humor in his own novels (something I'm trying to infuse into this book). I'm hoping all of this would mean she might "get" what I'm trying to do. Any suggestions on personalizing? What about humor in the query or 1 page synopsis? Any idea how to put humor into a synopsis or at least give the agent/publisher a hint of what you want to do in that way?

    Thanks again for the continued support. I enjoy reading what others have done and the advice given is always top notch!

    wf

    ------------------------------------------
    Date

    Editor or Agentís Name
    Publisher or Agentís Address


    The Seer Covenant, my 69,000 word YA contemporary fantasy novel, is a coming-of-age tale set in middle America. Fitting nicely in a YA market, the novel will easily expand into a series.

    In The Seer Covenant, Anders Ward begs God to help him arrive at the hospital before his father goes into surgery, promising that if God makes it happen, the teenage Anders would serve God for the rest of his life. Anders makes it, but his father dies during the operation. Anders forgets about the covenant, but two years later, God comes to collect. Unfortunately, Anders lacks focus, choosing distraction from lifeís problems through games, movies, and comics. In spite of this, God gives an unprepared Anders the job of a Seer. He witnesses the impact of unbelievable creatures on the world around him. Infernos turn to demonic towers of flame. Fairies steal caffeine shots. Dragons soar out of the sky and decimate highways like tornadoes. The dragon tornado nearly kills Anders until Oscar, a Herald, commands the dragon, and therefore the tornado, to leave. Through the elder Oscar, Anders begins to learn what it means to be a Seer, one who can see a dimension that interacts with our own, and how the Seer is intimately connected to the Herald, one who impacts that dimension with the magic of their words. Together, the young Anders and mentor Oscar form a team able to see and change things in both worlds, but as Oscar prods Anders to face the world thrust upon him, Anders doubt remains, both in his ability and in his understanding of a confusing God. As Anders doubts, other forces are at work to stop the new Seer, adding to the central doubt that has emotionally crippled him -

    How can Anders trust the God he made a covenant with when that God took away his father?

    I was published in the New Visions anthology as well as had a story adapted for the comic book medium in the book, Ragged Capes.

  8. #443
    There is no tomorrow RedMage's Avatar
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    Warfitz, sorry it's taken so long to reply. I don't really have any answers for you as, from my own posts prior to yours, you can see how little experience I have with query letters and such (none!). But somebody should say something, right? So, my thoughts:

    You asked about comedy in the query letter/synopsis. You've included the bit about the fairies stealing caffeine shots. Depending on how far you take that, that's pretty humorous. Reminds me of the 4 little aliens in Men in Black who hang around the coffee pot all day and, when they're not, they are constantly looking for the next caffeine hit. So it also brings to mind that movie, and that was fairly comedic as well so that helps.

    On the query letter itself, I might have written the beginning more like this:

    In the Seer Covenant, teenager Anders Ward begs God to help him arrive at the hospital before his father goes into surgery. (This tells us right away that Anders is a teenager. Before, we had already begun to imagine him and he wasn't necessarily a teenager) He promises that if God makes it happen, that he would serve Him for the rest of his life. Anders is able to reach the hospital in time, but his father dies during surgery.

    Two years later, Anders has forgotten about the promise he made. God, however, has not. Coming to collect, he gives the unprepared, undisciplined teenager (Adults know what teenagers are like. They've been there. While the inclusion of movies and video games may help tell the agent/publisher what time period this is set in--modern--you can easily say that in your intro right alongside that it takes place in America. Also, middle America? Do you mean Central America, like Panama, Belize, Nicaragua? Or do you mean the Midwestern United States? That is a little confusing) the job of a Seer, one who can see a dimension that interacts with our own. From the outset Anders witnesses the impact of the unbelievable: infernos turning into demonic towers of flame, fairies stealing caffeine shots, dragons that soar of the sky and decimate highways like tornadoes. (fyi, the inclusion of the word 'highways' also tells us the time period. The Romans may have had highways, but we're more likely to call them just 'roads', I think) This dragon nearly killing Anders, he is saved by a man named Oscar, a Herald, who commands the dragon, and therefore the tornado, to leave. Oscar taking the boy under his wing, Anders learns that a Herald is a person who can impact that other dimension which he, a Seer, can only see. A mentor relationship quickly developing between them, Anders and Oscar explore their intimately connected roles of Seer and Herald. Anders still wanting only his previous life, however, he doubts his abilities and often refuses to accept the confident Oscar's encouragement to face this new reality which has been thrust upon him. (I like this more than what you had because it shows us, again, that Anders is a teenager who would prefer to do his own thing and not have anyone tell him what to do. It also shows us that Oscar is older, mature and experienced one of the pair and gives the agent/publisher a good idea of their relationship)

    The world, however, does not stop for Anders. Other forces at work to stop the new Seer, their appearance adds to the central doubt that is crippling him: How can Anders trust God when it was God who took his father away? (The way you had this before, I almost missed the dark forces at work thing. That is crucial. As is the fact that rather than spurring him on to greater achievements and deeds, it instead cripples Anders still further by forcing him to wrestle with one of the essential questions of all religions: if there is good, why is there also evil?)

    I hope you accept this in the manner it was intended. I thought there were a few rough spots and sought to play around with them a little. If you don't like it, I won't be offended. Again, I don't know anything at all about a single part of the publishing process. Congrats, though, on finishing your book! That's an amazing achievement. Also, good luck with the agent!! Be sure to let us know what happens.
    Last edited by RedMage; August 16th, 2011 at 08:35 PM.

  9. #444
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Sorry, I was also on vacation. I think this letter is fine, but needs a bit of cleaning up. You use the word "doubt" about six times in a couple of sentences, for instance. So that just takes some smoothing and removing repetition.

    There is humor in the query letter and I think it's sufficient. If you try to dump more humor into it, then you are sort of undercutting the emotional power of your trump sentence:

    "How can Anders trust the God he made a covenant with when that God took away his father?"

    This is a book with humorous aspects but it's also a poignant story about serious loss and big issues. So I don't think you want the description to sound like it's a straight farce, as that might only confuse the agents you are approaching.

    By personalizing, the agent means she wants to get a sense of you and of the characters. I think that this letter does that. I think it shows a teen thrust into a hapless situation and it's much clearer on plot now. I think you'll get a good reception, but of course, these things are never for sure.

  10. #445
    *gulp*

    I'm still in the process of editing my novel, but I've started writing sample query letters to see if I know what I'm doing. Here's the 837th draft. Any comments or suggestions are appreciated.

    Dear Agent,

    Li is a farmer. He and his one thousand genetically engineered siblings plant rice in the paddy fields of the Yangtze desert. Until the age of five, the desert is all Li knows.

    Then the soldiers come and take the clones away. Li manages to escape but finds himself alone for the first time in his life. Beaten by the elements, betrayed by new friends, and imprisoned for crimes he does not understand, Li loses his innocence.

    But he gains his identity. Under the tutelage of Roman Obolensky, a technologist who wants to live forever, Li develops ambition. That ambition drives Li to the asteroid Ceres, where he discovers his siblings are being used to construct engines beneath the asteroid.

    After leading a revolt against the corporate overlords of Ceres, Li learns of a new danger: an inscrutable alien entity known as Scorpio has appeared at the edge of the solar system. Scorpio falls toward Jupiter and panic engulfs the red giant's colonies.

    Humanity watches helplessly as Scorpio pushes Jupiter toward the Sun. To study the entity, Li moves Ceres into orbit of Jupiter. He is joined by Callum Bell, an astrophysicist tasked with reverse engineering Scorpio's advanced technology. Callum makes no progress until a refugee from Europa arrives, the exobiologist Zahara van der Meer. With Li's help, Zahara initiates communication with Scorpio.

    Now nearing the Sun, Scorpio begins to transform Jupiter into something more than a planet and it falls to Li, Callum, and Zahara to unravel the entity's secrets. When the truth becomes clear, Li is faced with a choice: allow Callum to execute a dangerous plan to rid the solar system of Scorpio, or offer a compromise that will change humanity forever.

    Asynchrony is a hard science fiction novel complete at 132,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.

    Sincerely,

    Ori Vandewalle

  11. #446
    Fulgurous Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a lot in 132,000 words. It sounds more like two novels -- Li as clone, his adventures on Earth, his rescue mission to Ceres and taking possession of the asteroid/ship. Then book two, the whole Scorpio thing. Are you sure you don't want to make it a sequel?

    I would suggest that you move some of these paragraphs together:

    Li is a farmer. He and his one thousand genetically engineered siblings plant rice in the paddy fields of the Yangtze desert. Until the age of five, the desert is all Li knows. Then the soldiers come and take the clones away. Li manages to escape but finds himself alone for the first time in his life. Beaten by the elements, betrayed by new friends, and imprisoned for crimes he does not understand, Li loses his innocence.

    But he gains his identity. Under the tutelage of Roman Obolensky, a technologist who wants to live forever, Li develops ambition. That ambition drives Li to the asteroid Ceres, where he discovers his siblings are being used to construct engines beneath the asteroid. After leading a revolt against the corporate overlords of Ceres, Li learns of a new danger: an inscrutable alien entity known as Scorpio has appeared at the edge of the solar system. Scorpio falls toward Jupiter and panic engulfs the red giant's colonies.

    Humanity watches helplessly as Scorpio pushes Jupiter toward the Sun. To study the entity, Li moves Ceres into orbit of Jupiter. He is joined by Callum Bell, an astrophysicist tasked with reverse engineering Scorpio's advanced technology. Callum makes no progress until a refugee from Europa arrives, the exobiologist Zahara van der Meer. With Li's help, Zahara initiates communication with Scorpio.

    Now nearing the Sun, Scorpio begins to transform Jupiter into something more than a planet and it falls to Li, Callum, and Zahara to unravel the entity's secrets. When the truth becomes clear, Li is faced with a choice: allow Callum to execute a dangerous plan to rid the solar system of Scorpio, or offer a compromise that will change humanity forever.

    Asynchrony is a hard science fiction novel complete at 132,000 words. Thank you for your consideration.
    Also, if you are presenting this as a hard science fiction novel as opposed to a space opera and you have any science, engineering, etc. background or have published other SF stories, make sure to let them know that.

  12. #447
    Thanks, KatG! The Scorpio bit is the main plot of the novel, but I have feared for a while that I get there too late. Your comment that I should split the novel into two books helps to confirm my suspicions.

  13. #448
    I also have a RD query letter and synopsis i would like to have somebody take a look at. The query letter is a full page and the synopsis is three pages, i didnt know whether it would be couth to paste into the forum or not.

  14. #449
    It could be worse. ~tmso Moderator N. E. White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by InfinityKgt View Post
    I also have a RD query letter and synopsis i would like to have somebody take a look at. The query letter is a full page and the synopsis is three pages, i didnt know whether it would be couth to paste into the forum or not.
    Hello InfinityKgt,

    You might want to post it in the Stories sub-forum (here) or in the Stories section (here). Either way, make sure to put a link back here so that we know where to find it.

    The sub-forum is members-only if you are worried about not wanting to share your query and synop with everyone and their dog.

    There's no guarantees that anyone will read and help, but we will try. Many of us are struggling with the same issues, so maybe together we can make your query and synopsis as best as it can be.

  15. #450
    Hello, Tmso.

    Thank you for your reply, this is really a great site. I posted it in the subforum. Any comments at all are appreciated.

    http://www.sffworld.com/forums/showt...073#post658073

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