The Philadelphia Writers Meetup Group Message Board › Query Letter Help

Query Letter Help

Jason H.
user 107768402
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 1
I'm trying to write a good query for my fantasy novel, Nightblade. Here are two versions that I'm struggling with, can anyone tell me:
1) which they like better
2) if there is anywhere that needs improvement
3) if there are typos
4) if anything is done really well and works
5) would you pick up the book if you were an agent?

Mr. Bialer:

In Nightblade, the kingdom of Ascadell is besieged by dark forces that wield the power of Soulbane, an enchanted disease that rots the mind and will of its victims, transforming them into vicious savages. Bareloth, a trapped immortal, controls these banes. He has dark plans for his growing army.

The Nightblades, a special order of soldiers and sorcerers, are assembled to journey to a mythical lost continent and find the cure to Soulbane. They are thrust into a whirlwind of clashing swords and powerful magic, unshakeable friendships and unexpected romance, incredible discoveries and bloody betrayals as they explore an alien world.

Based on my research, it seems that my novel, Nightblade would make a good addition to your impressive record of sales in the fantasy genre. The Name of The Wind by Patrick Rothfuss is a favorite of my brother and I, so it caught my eye when I was reading your client list. Tad Williams and his epic high fantasy is another of your clients with similar work to my own, although Nightblade is geared toward young adults.

Nightblade was reviewed by peers and professors at the University of the Arts, from which I received a B.S. in Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. After review, it won the Jean Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. I have been published twice in The Moorestown Sun for book reviews. I have done advertising, public relations, and copywriting for non-profits and small businesses.

Nightblade: Book One in the Tales of Ascadell is 132,881 words long. I have included a SASE and the first two chapters with this submission.

Kind regards,
Jason Howard

Here is a second version of the query letter:

Ms. Wood:

Zac has never tasted freedom. He has never had a future or a past. In Detren, a mining town on the fringe of Ascadell, he lives for his fellow slaves. They see him as their leader even though he is still young, just eighteen. One day everything changes – raiders massacre Detren. Zac escapes, leaving behind the ashes of everything he has ever known.

The raiders are part of a larger plot to bring the vast kingdom of Ascadell to destruction. An evil sorcerer has created a disease wrought of dark magic called Soulbane. An immortal who has been trapped for millennia is vying for freedom. Ascadell needs a hero.

Zac never thought of himself as a hero, but as he struggles to come to terms with his own freedom he finds himself fighting for an entire nation’s.

Zac is aided by a cursed baby dragon named Althos, a strong-hearted jungle warrior named Artem, and a beautiful, magic-wielding female bounty hunter named Cera. They are asked to join the Nightblades on a quest to find a cure for Soulbane. When they journey to a mythical lost continent they find mysteries they could never imagine – and must unravel them before it’s too late to save the people of Ascadell.

Your client list revealed to me that we have similar interests in fantasy. Carol Berg stood out from that list. After reading about some of her work, I noticed that not only is Transformation (Rai Kirah) of the same genre, but it also has a similar protagonist, a slave turned hero named Seyonne. Like Zac, he must overcome his oppression and unravel a mystery in a world of demons and magic.

Nightblade was reviewed by peers and professors at the University of the Arts, from which I received a B.S. in Communication with a minor in Creative Writing. After review, it won the Jean Baker Memorial Award for Excellence in Creative Writing. I have been published twice in The Moorestown Sun for book reviews. I have done advertising, public relations, and copywriting for non-profits and small businesses.

Nightblade: Book One in the Tales of Ascadell is 125,881 words long. I have included a SASE and the first two chapters with this submission.

Kind regards,
Jason Howard

GenePoz
user 8154558
Riverton, NJ
Post #: 43
Hi Jason,
The first one reads too much like advertising promotion. The second is more professional for a query.
"from which I received" should be "where I received."
Should be, if I read this correctly, "I have published two book reviews in The Moorestown Sun, a local newspaper."
Should be "Nightblade, Book One in the Tales of Ascadell, is 125,881 words long. I have included a SASE and the first two chapters (# words) with this submission.
Good luck!
Gene Pozniak
William B.
user 63518722
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 1
I agree with Gene. Think of the query letter like a cross between a resume cover letter and the back cover of a novel. You want to immediately grab the agent's attention and then give them a little about your book and your writing background. Attention grabbing is really the main purpose(agents see hundreds of these a day) because after that they will make their decision based on what you submit to them ( the first 30 pages or something comparable). I recommend reading a couple successful query letters from the link below and comparing notes.
http://www.writersdig...­
I also would check out Getting Your Book Published for Dummies it has a section on queries http://www.dummies.co...­

Good Luck
Bill

Jason H.
user 107768402
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 2
Thanks so much, I'll definitely go with the second query letter based on what you guys have said.
Christopher K.
keeltyc
New York, NY
Post #: 38
A couple of suggestions:

- I'd tighten up your summary to two paragraphs or less. If you absolutely MUST, then go to a third, but you'd better earn it.
- Re-read that query with a scornful eye for cliche (because anyone you send it to is going to). Stuff like the "evil sorcerer" and the ragtag band of adventurers are tropes--which doesn't mean you can't use them, and use them well, but I'd avoid presenting them so flatly in your query.

Otherwise I think this is very good. If you haven't already, spend some time looking over queryshark.com to see how ruthless many agents and editors are in reading queries. This is pretty close to ready, but I think it needs another pass before it's your best presentation.
Jason H.
user 107768402
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 3
Good point about the "evil sorcerer" being a cliche, I took that out and reworked that a little. I checked out queryshark.com as well, very helpful website. I deleted the paragraph that described the minor characters to thin it out (and I thought I was suffering from character soup in that paragraph).

Thanks so much for your input Chris!
Dana
PhillyCollector
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 4
I agree with the previous comments and add these suggestions:

1. Reduce the amount of sharing to a single paragraph that catches the flavor of your novel. I think a flash of what you've written creates the need to read more.

2. Then move to how your novel fits in with the publisher's products (similar to ...). I like this section because I see it as tying your work into what the publisher does.

3. Remove the SASE part. Do writers still include a SASE? I am genuinely curious about that aspect. I have not submitted paper queries recently.

4. Do you have a website for this novel or a writer's website in your signature?

Best wishes for your work.

Sincerely,
Dana Cooper



GenePoz
user 8154558
Riverton, NJ
Post #: 44
Dana: If the agent doesn't want your work, then it's best to know a soon as possible. Hence the SASE.
Dana
PhillyCollector
Philadelphia, PA
Post #: 5
Thanks, GenePoz! I had not thought about that angle.

Dana
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