1. jim79
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    jim79 Member

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    Query Letter 1st try at a query letter

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by jim79, Jun 2, 2014.

    hi there,

    this is a query letter that I wrote out after finishing the book. I've been through it half a dozen times and I've asked other people to have a look at it.

    please tell me what you think.


    Thanks,

    Jim

    Dear ...



    I would like to submit my manuscript Desperate Times to your agency. Desperate times is a 90,000 word urban fantasy/thriller set in London and brings the vampire and human worlds together in a pulse racing, heart jumping story of biological warfare, inter-coven intrigue and double crosses.

    In desperate Times a coven ofinnovative vampires are turning to twenty first century science to increase their dwindling numbers by weaponising a sample of their blood so that they can turn people on an almost industrial scale. This enrages the other covens and they quickly launch an attack which all but wipes out the coven.However,a few escape and plant a bomb containing the virus in a crowded underground station, infecting a large amount of people. A black ops government department hears about the attack and tries to contain the new vampires but end up having to blowing up an entire building to keep the rest of the city safe.

    After a few close calls with the coven they find out that they are going to hit an even bigger target, a huge shopping centre that has tens of thousands of people going in and out each day.

    I have been writing for the last four years and have completed over a dozen short stories of various genres, this is my second novel.

    I enclose the first chapter and look forward to hearing from you.



    Kind regards
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    first of all, it needs a careful proofread/edit to catch all the goofs... you should do that before asking anyone's opinion...

    3 major no-nos:

    1. never tout your own book

    2. if you have no relevant paid writing credits, don't say anything about yourself

    3. never say it's your first--or second--or any number novel
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Always check out sites that will help you format your query. There's tons out there with samples and good advice.That being said - I don't know about the 1 paragraph - could clip it - it's blurby and something others would write about your book. Besides it doesn't explain much it's just catch phrases strung together. I'd move the info about the word length to the second paragraph.

    Watch your tenses - are turning? clip & replace with turn - A coven of innovative vampires turn to science to increase their dwindling numbers by weaponising their blood. Giving them the ability to turn people on an industrial scale. - example. Clip words like so, almost - anything that sounds too chummy or hesitant. You want to sound like you know your story inside and out.

    Keep the words energetic - query writing is an art unto itself and things that happen could wind up sounding dull even if they aren't -
    words here like few, and large amount of people are really pulling the reigns back on the excitement. Go for exact numbers or exact bulk numbers like a news story. They don't say a few killed last night. Notice how that tiny word takes
    the sting out of the murder. Go for words that emphasis the action and intensity.
     
  4. jim79
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    jim79 Member

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    thanks for the tips. I had a look at a few sites and did a couple of re-writes before coming up with this one.


    Thanks,

    Jim

    Dear,

    I would like to submit my manuscript, Desperate Times to your agency. Desperate times is an urban fantasy/thriller of 90,000 words.

    Detective John Simms is only few hours into the case of murdered local business man when he discovers something that doesn’t add up. The man had undergone some kind of experimental medical procedure that has completely drained him of all of his blood.

    He attempts to find out more only for a government department to step in and take the body and all of the casework, leaving him with nothing.

    It’s not until the department decide to recruit him that he finally finds out the truth. The business man was involved with a group of vampires that are using 21st century technology to turn people at an industrial rate.

    Another vampire coven discovers the plan and worrying that they’ll be quickly outmatched immediately launches a pre-emptive strike, destroying the whole coven with only the leader and his body guard surviving.

    As they run for their lives the leader vows revenge and brings forward the next stage of the project which involves releasing a genetically engineered strain of vampire blood which can infect even more people.

    John and the department are now stuck in the middle of a war between the two covens which takes a dangerous turn when the vampires attack an underground station leaving over a hundred people infected with the virus and all of them due to turn within the next five hours.

    I enclose a synopsis and the first three chapters and look forward to hearing from you soon.



    Regards,
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the summary should be kept to a single paragraph... two medium length ones only if the plot is too complex to lay out in one...

    you've got 6 overworded ones... pare down to essentials and a single paragraph, for a more effective query...

    also, don't include a synopsis or sample chapters unless they're specifically required in the agent's query guidelines...
     
  6. Toriel
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    Toriel New Member

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    I've, personally, never seen a query letter submitted to an agency before: "I would like to submit my manuscript, Desperate Times to your agency". Address the query to a specific agent instead. I assume the "Dear," will have a name correctly spelled in there too, right?

    Also, typically (this is just from what I've seen) times are usually put in all caps. Why? I don't know. Maybe to catch attention and draw the eye?

    For the first sentence, I would also try and combine it into on sentence. It could read something like: My manuscript, DESPERATE TIMES, is an urban fantasy/thriller completed at 90,000 words. I am submitting it to you because I read your interview on BLANK and saw your interest in BLANK. Or something like that.

    Try tightening the language too, change up the sentence structure to make the it sound more vivid and gripping. (sorry I don't know how to use the quote mechanic on this form!) You have this: "Detective John Simms is only few hours into the case of murdered local business man when he discovers something that doesn’t add up. The man had undergone some kind of experimental medical procedure that has completely drained him of all of his blood."

    Try using something like this:"Detective John Simms investigates the murdered a local business man, but he discovers something that doesn’t add up--the victim has been completely drained of blood".

    Lastly, you have a lot about the vampire war, but not much about John Simms. What's in this story for him? Why should I care about him? What's his past? what's driving him? And so on. Starting the query with him made me believe he is the protagonist, so make me care about him. Does that make sense?
     
  7. jim79
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    jim79 Member

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    Thanks for the help, I've tried half a dozen ways to make it sound better but it only sounds worse :)

    so i'm going to give a break before it breaks me.....
     
  8. K.P Gazelle
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    K.P Gazelle Member

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    Jim79,

    I feel your pain! But you mustn't give up!! Give it another go :).

    Good Luck!
    K.P Gazelle
     
  9. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    Dear,

    I would like to submit my manuscript, Desperate Times to your agency (This is redundant. Why else would you be querying). Desperate times is an urban fantasy/thriller of 90,000 words.
    -This belongs at the bottom. Start with what the book is about.

    Detective John Simms is only few hours into the case of murdered local business man when he discovers something that doesn’t add up. The man had undergone some kind of experimental medical procedure that has completely drained him of all of his blood.
    -It took them a "few hours" to realize this?

    He attempts to find out more only for a government department to step in and take the body and all of the casework, leaving him with nothing.

    It’s not until the department decide to recruit him that he finally finds out the truth. The business man was involved with a group of vampires that are using 21st century technology to turn people at an industrial rate.
    -Why not start the query here? Usually you want the query to begin at the meat of the story, rather than the setup.

    Another vampire coven discovers the plan and worrying that they’ll be quickly outmatched immediately launches a pre-emptive strike, destroying the whole coven with only the leader and his body guard surviving.

    As they run for their lives the leader vows revenge and brings forward the next stage of the project which involves releasing a genetically engineered strain of vampire blood which can infect even more people.
    -We are getting away from the protagonist and our reasons for why we should care about any of this.

    John and the department are now stuck in the middle of a war between the two covens which takes a dangerous turn when the vampires attack an underground station leaving over a hundred people infected with the virus and all of them due to turn within the next five hours.

    I enclose a synopsis and the first three chapters and look forward to hearing from you soon.
    -Only do this is the agent is specifically asking for chapters or a synopsis to be attached.



    Regards,


    This is a decent Query, but it makes a few major mistakes. First, you lose track of the main character in the middle. Secondly, we don't know what kind of choice the reader has to face.

    Here is the basic outline which most people should stick to.

    Who is this story about?
    What are the stakes?
    What choice to they face?
    What happens if they fail?

    Like everything in writing, this doesn't have to be followed, but it a damn good place to start.

    Check out this site. It is invaluable in figuring out what you are doing right and wrong in a query.

    http://queryshark.blogspot.com
     

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