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  1. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    This Query Letter of Mine...

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by S-wo, Mar 5, 2009.

    Hi all. I was wondering if I could get some feedback from a query letter that I wrote a while ago. I haven't tried submitting letters in a while, so I thought it would be wise to have some of you look at it here before I send it off to an agent or publisher. Here goes.


    Dear Mr. Galen:

    JK Rowling, J R R Tolkien, George R R Martin, and Stephen King. These are great and successful fantasy authors who managed to appeal massively to the age groups of 10-80. It is in my intention to provide this audience with a fantastical realm that they can immerse themselves in. I know that I am not any of those famous authors, but I hope you can consider taking a look at my fantasy novel, KRYSTAL LIGHT. It is 145,000 words in length.
    The year is 1880. A young street fighter is thrown into a conflict to subdue justice to a nameless man who assassinated the king and queen of the nation Alyuwan. He is first introduced to this situation when he attends a festival celebrating the 15th anniversary of the reformation of the country. A mysterious red-skinned man appears and reigns terror. He annihilates the nation’s elite guards and the king and queen whom attended. Their daughter, managed to escape to safety. A week later, the street fighter wakes up one morning and finds the new queen on his doorstep. She blackmails him into assisting her on a mission to subdue justice to the man merely known as The Red Terrorist.
    I thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

    Sincerely,



    My Name
     
  2. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    No offense intended, but your "letter" is not profession and likely to get you rejected every time. Rather than review the problems with your letter, I suggest you do a search on this website for all the threads that offer guidance in this matter. Here is just one such resource:

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=15477&highlight=query+letters

    Remember, a query letter (as Cog states) is a business communication and should follow guidelines set forth in numerous professional websites. Deviating from the norm is a sure sign to a professional agent that you are an amateur and unlikely to prompt a response.

    There are also threads about writing a proper synopsis. Use the "Search" button . . . the information is readily available.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sad, but true... and it's not even grammatical in places!... plus, your book is way too long for a first novel by a new unknown writer... and to start out by comparing yourself to the top level of authors in your genre is probably the worst of the worst here...
     
  4. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    Someone correct me if I am wrong, but don’t most agents and publishers of fiction (particularly with new writers) prefer to receive actual manuscripts? And if you send a manuscript you don’t use a query letter, you use a cover letter, which serves a completely different purpose.
     
  5. TableTop.Paper
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    TableTop.Paper Member

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    I've read up on cover letters and looked at examples and you're doing everything wrong. Not trying to be offensive, just that 'promoting your work' was a no-no in their descriptions.

    What I understood was to place, on top, your contact information then the date. Then you say "dear mr.editor," and simply tell them you are submitting the requested papers and the book title, genre, type(novel, novella, etc) and the word count.

    You give a very very very brief description (1-2 sentences) that doesn't make them say 'REALLY?' or "Whatever" but "huh..." with a piqued interested tone. E.g "The story of a boy searching for his father deep in an unknown city only to find out his father was the city." (Okay, I couldn't think of anything logical) But something like this will make the reader say "okay, sounds good" instead of showing them "A story of a boy searching for his father." that will just get youa big fat phhbt!

    After that, you list your recent (or biggest) paid published works to show them you know what you are doing (Leave blank if you really got nothing, never apologize for being a first timer...or any kind of self discounting.)

    Now thank them properly and close the letter.

    (As I said, I researched this and found this to be the best way. I am sorry if I am dead wrong but I would be rather shocked.)
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you are wrong, sorry to say... no, they certainly do not want to be deluged by unsolicited mss from new unknown writers!

    a query letter first is de rigueur for legit agents and publishers... then, if you've hooked them with that, they'll request either sample chapters or the full ms...

    scams that masquerade as agents and publishers are the ones who accept full mss right off the bat...

    ttp...
    there are some grammar goofs in that sample, but overall, it's a good example of a simple cover letter... but it won't work as a query...

    as i noted above, legit agents/publishers generally don't want [or even allow] sample chapters or the full ms to be sent to them without their requesting it...

    and there is no single 'best' way, since the writer should always follow each agent's/publisher's submission guidelines to the letter...
     
  7. TableTop.Paper
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    TableTop.Paper Member

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    Not all places ask for a query letter. they just want a cover letter, and I'm assuming she doesn't need one but a cover letter.

    But what I wrong completely on how to do it? As it would be nice to know that everything I read and checked out was dead wrong...
     
  8. Bob Magness
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    Bob Magness Senior Member

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    Don't apologize. One of the reasons I come here is for some good old fashion education. :)
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    why would you assume that when he [see the little 'male' icon under his picture?] said it was a query letter and what he wrote in it seems to bear that out?

    and most 'places' [agents and publishers] do expect a query letter first, as only a rare few [if any] will accept unsolicited mss, so why assume a query wouldn't be needed?

    didn't you see my answer to this in my previous post, in the part addressed to you specifically?
     
  10. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    This is lame. It'd be MUCH more interesting if you could say,

    "Hey, my book is about such-and-such, it's so many words, and here is the first chapter. If you like it, or think you need to see more, don't hesitate to send me back a letter saying or requesting such.

    Thank you for your time.

    - Me"

    Why all the little rules and guidelines? It'd be stupid if they lost a good, sell-worthy book because some guy didn't send the 'correct type of letter'.
    Bah. It's not like it is wasting anyone's time.

    It takes the reading of two sentences to see if the piece is AT LEAST written well enough to sell, grammatically speaking.
    Then, a single chapter will tell you if, in general, you like the writing style and where the story is going.

    In less than a chapter, you can dismiss most stories. Hmh. I know it doesn't work this way, and never will, but what ever.
     
  11. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Sorry for this late reply, but concerning somne of the rules and what to put in and not. I'm kind of confused now because I've been told so many different things on several different websites that I'm confused now on what I need to include. I didn't add all of the address because I thought it was just unnecessary to post it here, like I just put My Name at the bottom.
     
  12. Rhapsody
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    Rhapsody New Member

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    That would work just fine if editors and publishers only had one piece to work on at a time. However, being that most publishing houses have dozens if not hundreds of authors they represent, they simply do not have the time, patience or energy to read everything sent to them in detail.

    A form letter tells them exactly what they want to see in the places they expect to see it in the least amount of time. A form letter tells them that you've bothered to research and follow the preferred methods and format for contacting them. A form letter tells them that you have some smidgeon of professionalism in your creative little soul.

    It really doesn't matter if you think it's lame or not. If you want them to represent your work, you'd best play by their rules.
     
  13. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Thank you for agreeing with me in a way that suggests that you have disagreed with me.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i would take exception with the term 'form letter'... each letter, while containing much the same in re the book being offered, should vary in the opening, for each person being addressed... sending out what will be obvious is a 'form letter' will only get it consigned to the bottom of the pile at best and the 'round file' at worst...

    so, i'm hoping you really meant a 'properly formatted' letter, rhapsody and not a 'form' letter...

    love and hugs, maia
     
  15. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Y'all are seeming to deviate from the topic of the thread. It's been a little tiresome now with me doing all these letters for the past three years, but I was wondering if you could take a look at this one I currently wrote. Don't be shy to point out anything grammatically incorrect because there's no way that I can remember everything.

    Dear Mr. Galen:

    What is the thing in our world that provides comfort, relief, and appeasement to the weary soul? What is the same thing that can also bring inspiration to many hearts? It is the fantastical mediums of the arts that provides these (insert word here). Arts such as television, film, and books allows people to escape from their busy, huddled, and sometimes tiring lives to escape into a world of fantasy. They can also provide inspiration for others to achieve anything that they can dream, and it is in my intention to bequeath the people another gate for them to walk through for so they choose it for assuagement or motivation. This is why present to you my own little piece of escape, my 145,000 word fantasy novel; KRYSTAL LIGHT.​

    In the year 1880 a young street fighter attends a ceremonial festival where he witnesses the assassination of a king and queen. A week later, the street fighter wakes up one morning and finds the new queen on his doorstep. She blackmails him into assisting her on a mission to subdue justice to the man merely known as The Red Terrorist.​
    I thank you for taking the time to read my letter.​

    Sincerely,
     
  16. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    starting out with a lecture is a very bad idea, imo... there are also a lot of goofs in grammar, word choice, and other technical stuff that need fixing... i can't help you any further, since the work seems to have violent content, but i'm sure others here will jump in with some advice...
     
  17. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    Why would violence keep you from critiquing?
     
  18. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    S-wo, there are MANY sites on the internet offering specific advice and even samples of query letters from professionals (like mammamaia) who know the business first hand. From the looks of your "letter" above, you have made just about every mistake those sites warn writers to avoid. Here are a few of my favorite sites for query letter guidance:

    http://misssnark.blogspot.com/search/label/query%20letters
    http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx
    http://www.sfwa.org/writing/query.htm

    I hope you'll find what you need on those sites.

    As far as mammamaia's choice to be avoid any association with violence, she is living by her guiding principles and certainly has every right to invest her time . . . or withhold her time . . . from any endeavour that goes against those values.
     
  19. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't want this sentence in there all together, but it was one that jumped out at me. Seeing how I fixed it might give you an idea of how to fix other awkward sentences. I'd say the same thing more like this:
    Or something to that effect. One of the skills I was told I should master was saying as much as you can with as few words as possible, and that is most important with cover and query letters, whether you are submitting to a publisher or any other type of business communications.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    because, as those who know me know, i took a vow to never aid or abet the use of violence to entertain...
     
  21. Unsavory
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    Unsavory Active Member

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    I might be wrong, and I'll freely admit that this is just my opinion. I imagine that some agents and publishers might scoff at the idea of publishing a novel that happens to have the same name as a popular low-calorie soft drink. It's a little thing, but it jumped out at me.
     
  22. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    Ok so I'm not the only one that noticed that? *wipes brow*

    Why Krystal Light? It is definitely a soft drink on the market and most people are going to notice that.

    As for your query letter, it sounds almost like you're trying *too* hard. Neither one of your versions really caught my attention and I don't mean this to be offensive at all, but I know if I were a publisher it would be one I just pushed to the bottom of the pile. You really have to *grab* the attention of the person reading it, make them think "huh, I'd really like to read this and see if it's worth its salt." Your writing quality in your query letter should reflect the writing quality in your novel, imo.

    ~Lynn
     
  23. Miswrite
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    Miswrite Member

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    Well, in defense to the original poster, it's spelled differently.

    The defense ends...now.

    But the way it is spelled is, in my opinion, a little bit pretentious. I hate it when a conventional spelling is changed to be more unique, whether it's with baby names, company names, or novel names. Krystal sounds like the name of the rather unsavory, sinful young lady who hangs around the streetcorner at odd hours, not the name of a novel. But Krystal Light altogether? A reference hard to ignore. So unless your main characters have adventures in a soft-drink bottle, scrap Krystal Light.

    In fact, I think if you really want to keep Krystal, or Crystal, throw away Light. There's just too many things associated with [Word Here] Light. Yoplait Light yogurt, Miller Lite beer, etc. Too many product names. If I heard someone talking about being in love with something called Krystal Light, I would assume it was a beer.

    But this is a bit off topic. As for your cover letter, I think it sounds unprofessional. Your beginning makes you sound like you think the publisher is a child and needs to be taught a few things, your body paragraph is unremarkable, and the letter overall is forgettable. I would say you need a lot of work on it. Visit websites about it, at the very least, and try to formulate a better letter.
     
  24. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    This is one of those situations which completely shatters any and all atmosphere and emotion, then scatters it to the four winds.
    As the pieces are soaring about, a hand reaches up and grabs the most exact words and phrases and inserts them into a weak sentence that is a mere husk of its former self.

    We go from, "Allow me to introduce to you something legendary," to, "So yeah, here's something I wrote."

    What's the POINT of making everything as short and concise as possible?

    In fight scenes, we might as well write, "I hit one guy, and-- wait, no, I won the fight. That's all that matters. Some stuff happened, and then we won and the book is over."

    Romance: "We copulated after getting to know each other."

    Comedy: "Some funny stuff happened."


    I mean-- concise CAN be good, but really. . . .
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Concise and terse are not the same thing. Consise writing does not eliminate necessary information. It discards only gratuitous fluff.
     

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