1. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Query Letter AMP's WotW Query

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by A.M.P., Apr 2, 2016.

    I feel like my query isn't eye catching enough :(
    I know the agents name, the title has been abrv. for privacy and so has my name.

    Dear Mr.Agent,

    I found on your Publishers Marketplace that you are open for new clients and have experience in selling fantasy from the epic to the historical. I am seeking representation for WotW, an adult apocalyptic fantasy novel, complete at 115,000 words. This will be a two part story and the second is in early outline stages.

    Hundreds of years after Earth was destroyed by the mighty tree Yggdrasil, Griffin dreams of adventure; of exploring the ruins of human civilization buried underneath the tree's massive roots. However, a lifetime of beatings from his uncle taught him three things: he's an ignorant boy, he should do as he's told, and to never reveal his magical abilities.

    To claim the world for themselves, the false gods who created Yggdrasil create a series of events that will give Griffin the adventure he always dreamed of. However, Griffin learns that adventure is nothing like he dreamed. Griffin has to learn to take responsibility for his actions, discern between truth and manipulation, and take control of his future or remain a pawn for those who'll use him to take over the world.

    I enclosed the requested synopsis and the first three chapters of WotW and I thank you for taking the time to consider this manuscript.

    Sincerely,

    A.M.P.

    So here is another idea.

    Dear Mr.Whowillmakemylifeeverythingiwanttobe (It's an old name)

    I found on your Publishers Marketplace that you are open for new clients and have experience in selling fantasy from the epic to the historical. I am seeking representation for WotW, an adult apocalyptic fantasy novel, complete at 115,000 words. This will be a two part story and the second is in early outline stages.

    It's the adventure of a lifetime. Just beyond the horizon. Just in that monster-infested tangle of roots. Just past the village limits. Just behind his abusive uncle. Griffin dreams of it everyday but a lifetime of beatings taught him to obey, to depend on others, and to never reveal his magical gifts.

    One day when Griffin musters the courage to run away, he is found by ancient gods who wish to use his gift to bring them back to life so they may reclaim the world. Griffin remains safe thanks to his friends Wolf and Sara but both have their own plans for the world and manipulate Griffin to make them come true.

    It is up to Griffin to learn between what the world needs and what others want for it. He must mature into the young man he is and shed his abused boyhood away and he must take responsibility for his power or allow the world to fall into the hands of those who'll use it to fulfill their selfish needs.

    I enclosed the requested synopsis and the first three chapters of WotW and I thank you for taking the time to consider this manuscript.

    Sincerely,

    A.M.P.

    Dear Mr.Agent,

    I found on your Publishers Marketplace that you are open for new clients and have experience in selling fantasy from the epic to the historical. I am seeking representation for WotW, an adult fantasy novel, complete at 115,000 words. This is the first of a two part series.

    In Griffin's world, magic is everything. His uncle teaches him to become an artificer: they who make magic for mundane people. However, Griffin has a secret: he can do magic without artifice and that is something he could be killed for. Anyone who uses magic without artifice must be a witch and no one wants to go back to the days where witches ruled over mankind.

    Because of his magical abilities Griffin has the potential to create an artifice of unlimited power. This attracts the attention of ancient gods, manipulative witches, and an egomaniac prophet who wish to use Griffin's magic to rule over the world.

    Griffin is tossed in an adventure that will take him across the continent and back as he is used and manipulated to create the world of whoever has him under their thumb at the moment. However, Griffin has a plan: to use everyone's desires against themselves and create a world where anyone can use magic. It won't be easy: he'll have to learn to fight, to deceive and make allies, and to resist falling for the same temptations as those who would use him. If Griffin fails, it will be the end of the world as he knows it.

    I enclosed the requested synopsis and the first three chapters of WotW and I thank you for taking the time to consider this manuscript.

    Sincerely,

    A.M.P.

    Dear Mr.Agent,

    I found on your Publishers Marketplace that you are open for new clients and have experience in selling fantasy from the epic to the historical. I am seeking representation for WotW, an adult fantasy novel set in an apocalyptic world, complete at 115,000 words. This is the first of a two part series.

    Griffin's world ends where the world of the Underroot begins, a network of roots that covers the ground and sky. Running away from his abusive uncle, he ventures inside and is confronted by a goddess that reveals she and the other gods would use his magical powers to take back the world for themselves. Griffin runs back to his uncle, thinking the Underroot is well behind him.

    But when his uncle tries to kill him, Griffin is saved by the worldly Wolf and his future is revealed by Sara the witch. He can save the world or destroy it, but if he does not act soon the ancient gods would use him to reclaim it for themselves. Griffin is now on a quest to the heart of the Underroot and all magic to find a way to save the world from... well, himself!

    I enclosed the requested synopsis and the first three chapters of WotW and I thank you for taking the time to consider this manuscript.

    Sincerely,

    A.M.P.

    Dear Mr.Agent,

    I found on your Publishers Marketplace that you are open for new clients and have experience in selling fantasy from the epic to the historical. I am seeking representation for WotW, an adult fantasy novel, complete at 115,000 words. This is the first of a two part series.

    In Griffin's world, artifice is everything. It is currency, controlled substance, and tool for survival. Griffin is an apprentice artificer: one who makes magical tools for everyone to use. However, Griffin has a secret: he can use magic without artifice. As feared as it is hated, magic wiped out the world twice before and Griffin knows to hide his gift.

    A man with the power of foresight, the Prophet, kidnaps Griffin and has him create a source of unlimited power: the manawell. Griffin escapes thanks to the aid of witches but loses the manawell in the process. Griffin sets out to find the blue velvet bell; the only thing capable of stopping the Prophet who now has the power of a god.

    Along with the Prophet are ancient gods and manipulative witches all who have their own uses for the manawell. If either of them gain control, the world will forever be reshaped in their image and, as Griffin learns, their primary concern is their own well being. But power is temptation and Griffin may end up becoming just like those he is trying to stop.

    I enclosed the requested synopsis and the first three chapters of WotW and I thank you for taking the time to consider this manuscript.

    Sincerely,

    A.M.P.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2016
  2. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    First off, I feel for you. I just finished the query for my first novel and getting all the energy of a full book into a few paragraphs is quite a feat. Below are my impressions.

    I am not getting a clear sense of the central conflict Griffin faces in your book. I surmise that the false gods are preying upon Griffin's desire for adventure to manipulate him and somehow claim the world for themselves, but that is not readily apparent to me. I had to figure it out.

    I am also not getting a clear picture of what actually happens in the story. What are these events the false gods have created. How do they relate to Griffin and the central conflict of the book? Does Griffin ultimately have a difficult choice to make in order to realize his destiny?

    What does Griffin stand to lose in this story?
    What, specifically, is his goal? I know he yearns for adventure, but what is the goal of his adventure? What is he trying to do with his life?
     
  3. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Hmm, I think I went too vague without realizing it...

    So glad I posted here before sending this off.
    I am not the exception!
     
  4. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Is the new one any better?

    I tried to keep it active and exciting but maybe it's the blood rushing to my head...
     
  5. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    This is better.

    I feel like Griffin's magical gifts are a big part of the story. If this is the case, you might want to open with this and explain whether or not magical gifts are rare in the world of your story. Wanting to have an adventure is a good goal, but if there is anything a little closer to Griffin's heart, make sure to put that in there too. Were his parents adventuerers? Did his parents disappear into the old human ruins? Is he searching for what makes him different? Why the need for adventure?

    I have a better idea of the plot now: Griffin and his friends have to determine the intent of the old gods to save the world. Maybe a little more detail on exactly what the circumstances are. Do they have to journey to an ancient temple to unlock Griffin's full potential? Do they have to discover secret weapons or magical spells to defeat the old gods? Do the old gods come to the planet as avatars, forcing Griffin to face them on the field of battle?

    If it makes you feel any better, I did this exact thing with my query. My first version had very little detail and I had to change a lot to get the true spirit of my story in there.
     
  6. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    From this query I have too many questions (confusion, not intrigue) and I don't actually know what your story is about. I get no sense of Griffin's personality, except that he wants an adventure, who the antagonists are or why they want what they want, or what actually happens in the book. There's no hook here, no burning question that I need to find out the answer to. I'm just confused!

    But this one is better than your revised one.

    I don't know if you're holding information back to create intrigue or if it's because you don't have many words to play with. Either way, it's weakening your query. Specifics are what make it interesting and there are none here. Literally none. I have no idea about... anything, really.
     
  7. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    >.> I spent years trying to get good at writing.
    Now for a few more just to get two paragraphs right :(

    I guess I should call it just adult fantasy (for some reason, I swear I felt that I needed to be more genre specific... don't ask why, I don't know)

    And no, not holding back, I just royally suck.
    Think the problem is I'm trying to keep it too simple maybe... :S

    @Tenderiser

    You ask too many questions!
    Probably because I'm not concise in my query :(
    I'll rewrite it in a way I think leaves less room for questions.

    @mrieder79

    Yes, the only reason anyone gives a damn about Griffin is the fact he's the key to making their dreams come true. So, his magical abilities should be more at the forefront of the query...


    I think this new revision is more to the point. I need to try it from different angles and create a tangible and understandable meat of the story. Slowly simmering to that point, I think. I'm liking this more myself.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2016
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    You don't suck. Queries were invented by Satan to make us lose all hope about everything and turn to the dark side.

    Simple is good. It's vagueness that's the problem. Simple and specific = perfection!
     
  9. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Yar, I went too vague without realizing it.
    To make the first revision, I spent a good three days just thinking of how to put the story down in two paragraphs >.>
    Think I needed to ask all you guys just so I can stop looking it at the way I settled on (focusing on Griffin's abused childhood) and get the story out there more.
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, I'm finally getting a sense of who Griffin is and what your plot is, and I like them both. The second paragraph works a treat for me. The first and third are more specific than the previous attempts but still too unclear.

    I think starting off with Griffin's unique power is the right way to go about it.

    Maybe try to boil down to the crucial elements you'll need in a query. I've tried to fill it in based on what you've already written:

    1. What does Griffin want? What's his motivation? A world where everyone can use magic (?) (Why?)
    2. What do the antagonists want? What's their motivation? Ancient gods, manipulative witches and an egomaniac prophet. They want to use Griffin's magic to take over the world.
    3. What are the stakes? What happens if Griffin fails and the antagonists succeed? The bad guys take over the world and do... what? Enslave everyone? What happens to Griffin personally if they take over the world?
    4. What does Griffin have to do to stop them? Play them off against each other---but how?
    5. A hook at the end. Will Griffin be able to X or not. Leave a question in the agent's mind (but don't phrase it as a question).
     
  11. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Each version is getting better and betting. Version three is much clearer, with a better picture of who Griffin is and what makes him special.

    I agree with Tenderizer. Paragraph two is MONEY! That is starting to hook me. Paragraph one is good. I think you could clean up the style to be tighter and convey the same idea more efficiently, but it gives good background. I also agree with Tenderizer that there is some confusion there about the witches. Maybe a brief snippet about the part witches have played in the history of your world would be helpful. It is important since Griffin is apparently a witch. (is he?)

    On paragraph three, things start to get vague again. You are closer to the mark, but I really feel like you need to add specifics about Griffin's quest. What happens on this trans-continental adventure? Hit the high points. Does he defeat dragons with his mind-powers? Does he enslave a race of sentient fungus and become their overlord? Does he use his magic to create an army of cyborg-zombie-monkey-bikers?

    You're doing great. It's funny. This is so similar to the evolution my own query letter went through about a month ago.
     
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I'm still confused about how magic works in your world. There are people with innate magic, like gods and witches. There are common people who can use magic if it's artificed (?) for them. There's wild magic in the air that... I don't know, can it only be harvested by special artificers or can anyone be an artificer? Basically, what I need to know is where Griffin fits into this world.

    We also need to know WHY he has to keep his magic a secret.

    I think the uncle is a red herring here. He doesn't need to be mentioned at all.

    Still need more specifics. WHAT selfish desires? What exactly are they going to do to the world if they get the manawell?

    I think you're getting closer.
     
  13. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    New revision up!

    @Tenderiser

    It now has 60% less colons!
    I removed the uncle (there was no need for him!)

    @mrieder79

    Yeah, there's so much to explain as everything relates and comes together.
    Impossible to do in 3 paragraphs.

    What do you guys think about me not mentioning the other 2 main PoVs and simply querying about a main aspect of the story (even though there are more?) will the agent get mad when he realizes there's more?
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  14. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Keep at it. You'll get there. When you capture the energy and essence of your book in this short format, you'll know.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2016
  15. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, the book is no longer called WotW.
    But calling him a Wyrd-- genius! Wish I had thought of it at the time.

    I think I got something to link it back.
    Gonna tweak it later.
     
  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    It's the right approach and no, the agent won't be mad.

    Who are the other POV characters? I'm wondering if this might be easier from one of their perspectives.

    I see you're working on it again so I haven't critiqued but I'm with @mrieder79 - the third paragraph is the problem with this one.
     
  17. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    The others are Wolf and River.
    Their stories intertwine with Griffin's in a way that make him the main main protagonist.
    I think it would make even less sense if I used one of them.

    I'm trying a new angle but having just as much trouble.
    It seems no matter what I try, I can't do the last paragraph without needing to info dump the entire lore >.>
     
  18. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I hate the 3rd paragraph with a fiery passion.

    I think the issue is that I feel like I'm lying by not including everything.
    And then I feel like it's true because there are stuff that are exempt, glossed over, or overly focused on to make the query a query.

    I think the 1st and 2nd paragraph in the new revision (4) are pretty much there but even I can tell the 3rd is where it goes south...

    Maybe I need a new angle?

    FFS. I learned to write, not sell >.>

    Edit: I wrote about 5 new versions. Each of them sucks because I can actually critically see why it doesn't work. I just can't fix it or get it right. I'm so frustrated. So many hours, so little to show for it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2016
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I reached that stage too. :D

    Okay. Stop writing queries. Explain to me and mrieder what happens to Griffin in your own words, not trying to make it queryish. Or even just answer the questions I posted above, in your own words. Let's see if we can crowdfundwrite this thing.
     
  20. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    I put a new version up, hope you guys can have a look at it.
    I'm gonna research successful fantasy queries specifically and see if they do anything different.
     
  21. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    Holy hell!

    I adore this new version so much more!

    I was trying to fit 500 pages into 2 measely paragraphs!
    It can't be done!
    Well, not well.

    BUT!
    What if I just focus on the first three chapters? What if I just use the intrigue as the hook?!

    That was the issue all along!
     
  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think you're SO close with this one!

    Apart from the tweaks I've suggested, I think you need to give a hint (just a hint) of why such power would be attractive to Griffin when he's apparently a good and moral person. Maybe this is where his abused childhood comes into it?

    Something like this but in your own words?

    In Griffin's world, artifice is everything. It is currency, a controlled substance, and a tool for survival. Griffin has a powerful gift--the ability to use magic without artifice--but has to keep it secret. Magic is as feared as it is hated since people like Griffin ruled the world and inflicted their cruel whims on non-magical people. Forced to hide his gift, Griffin is at the mercy of his abusive uncle and desperate for escape.

    A psychic prophet...
     
  23. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    @Tenderiser

    Oh dang, you saved the old version from 12 hours ago? <,<
    I thought I deleted it before anyone saw it.

    I was reading this trying to understand why its so different from what's up there, lol.
     
  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I only quoted it like 10 minutes ago! Dang, I thought it was great as well.

    Lemme look at the new one. :)
     
  25. A.M.P.
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    It's all good.

    If the new one doesn't pan out, or I hit a new stroke of genius with the old one, I'll use it.
    I know I was getting closer but somehow it still didn't feel right with me.

    Besides, I hear it's good to have multiple queries in case one doesn't seem to be working for agents.
     

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