I'm probably giving you more advice than is desired -- just take anything you find useful.
I'm sure that philosophically this is true, but that's not the issue. A standalone in the market means a one-shot book, for which there are no sequels planned. Whereas a series means it's the first book in a possible series. If you say it's a series and a standalone both, you will confuse them. (Authors do often go back and turn standalone novels into series, or start what is suppose to be a series but then ends up being a standalone, but your current intentions will do fine to start.) It seems that you do plan sequels, so just call it a first book in a series, I would advise.It is both a stand-alone and part of a series as each novel deals with a phase of the boy's life and how the abuse affects him later on. This could be read as one book, though the later books may take understanding of what comes before because the world is increasingly complex.
Well now, Sheepie brought up having atmospheric query letters, so I won't go against that idea. But I can tell you as a former agent and editor that the tone of the query letter was a matter of total irrelevance to me and to everyone I worked with. I did not read a query letter description to get a "feel" for the tone of the novel. To get that, I read the text, which is much more trustworthy for that sort of thing than the author trying to describe the text.I've written query after query, but none captured the feel of the
What I want to know in the query letter is what is the story about, what is its emotional context, main characters and main conflicts. (And this information in turn gives me a very good idea of the tone of the story.) And I don't want to be confused by the description. I don't want to be intrigued, seduced, or any of that other stuff, because you won't be able to do so. (Although attempts to do so have often caused great giggles in publishing offices.) I want information. I want the author to sell me on his story, not his writing style, because the only way his writing style is going to sell me is from his actual prose, not his description of his prose.
You write well. You can go out with this and see how they react -- there is enough information to attract attention, though I think you may run into some confusion as to whether you are writing YA or epic or dark fantasy or horror. I just think you might get more response if you offer more details about Walter's journey and the war that goes on in his homeland. Of course, it has to be brief in a query letter, and so it might be best for you to attach a 2 page plot synopsis to the query letter, since you're having trouble describing the book.
That's true, but you're not trying to reproduce the book in the query letter. And in talking about events, you can imply the thematic aspects of them, especially if you describe the emotional conflicts. If I asked you in a conversation, what is the book about -- and I didn't want just a thematic description about the passion of man, etc. -- what would you tell me?So much of a book stems from voice, and more from the overlying thematic elements that add weight to the events.
I'd try dark fantasy maybe. But with everything pre-industrial, you can call it epic with a dark tone.The story is pre-industrial (in Walter's original world), and in Temeres, there is a "technology", but it is driven from Craft. So, epic might best describe it, though dark definitely is closer. Still vague, though... lol