1. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    Query Letter YAQL (Yet another query letter) RFC

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by mickelodian, Apr 12, 2016.

    So finished my first book, but hey, its a trilogy so although I'm half way through books 2 and 3 and a quarter of the way through one of the supporting books I have not sent out one query letter yet.

    Some friends agreed to read the book, in full and give me their opinion. I'm Irish, so are they, I'm expecting criticism, but no beer!

    Anyway heres my Query letter... please do not be gentle.

    Dear [name],

    I am seeking representation for my Sci-fi Trilogy 'In Lucem Solaria' with the first volume 'Birth of Queen Bee' complete at 113,417 words. Eagle eyed agents will notice something strange about my precision there.

    Dr. George Morris hopes to one day develop a machine consciousness, but he leaves work every Friday disappointed. In 2024 a conscious intelligence calling herself Solaria emerges. She does not believe humanity is ready for her, and tricks him into keeping her a secret. Thus begins a game of cat and mouse with the world for two decades.

    In 2030 George and Solaria's company NEP set up a virtual world called New Elysia, offered to the public as a destination afterlife, for a monthly subscription, plus a chunk of inheritance. This guaranteed afterlife quickly finds itself competing with religious and government authorities.

    Then in 2038, a world sponsored mission to retrieve three asteroids, for mining, goes horribly wrong when one collides with Earth. So, Solaria speeds up her plans. Big plans!

    This trilogy will also be supported by two other books called 'Flora and Fauna of Elysia' by Krentic Nortic and 'Eating Human Cultures' by Markilc Seldre, both of these authors are Elysian.

    Attached for your perusal is the first 50 pages. Thank you for your consideration.
    Regards
    Me
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2016
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd leave out the "eagle eyed agents" part - you don't want to set up agents who don't see whatever it is to feel like they're stupid. And with that in mind, I'd leave out the precise number of words. 115K seems close enough. (Disclaimer: I have no idea what the "trick" or whatever is... if it's super-duper cool, and if you're prepared to only work with agents who both understand the trick AND are interested in your book, then... go for it.

    For the rest of it, I think you've given some background/backstory, but no real plot. What actually happens in your book? Who are the main characters and what do they want? Is it George? I need more details on this.

    I don't read much scifi anymore. Possibly this would be great for someone who's more into that genre. But for me? It's too sketchy.
     
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  3. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    Hmmm... now you have me curious. What the hell is 113417?
    At first, I was thinking a decimal part of pi ... 3.1415... nope
    Then Fibonacci number? ... Nah that's 1/1/2/3/5/...
    It does make for a rather ugly blackish green color as a hex color designation.
    Google provides no answers so I'm doubting any agent will deconstruct this mystery.
    The comment did distract me enough to not pay much attention to the rest of the letter so maybe it's better left out.
     
  4. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    That kind of gimmick isn't going to endear you to many agents.

    With a heavy heart I must agree with @BayView. I am a sci-fi reader but I also find it too vague to entice me to read the book. IMO a query needs certain elements:

    1) Who the MC is and what he wants (I'm guessing George but I don't know why he created Solaris or what he wants to do with her)
    2) Who the antagonist is and what he wants (no idea)
    3) What the central conflict is (no idea)
    4) A question, that doesn't have to be phrased as a question, to make me want to read on and find out (if I knew what Solaris' big plans were I might want to read on to find out if she succeeds, but as it is nope)

    This is well-written but I don't think it's going to do its job of getting the agent to read the first 50.
     
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  5. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    Points taken... gratefully so.

    In relation to the number of words, its in the plot. First book 113417 words, second one 113,437 and third one 113383. This is related to the outcome in the third book. However my background is in math and physics and I have a feeling you guys are all right and agents wouldn't understand the significance of that number. Plus if I tell them they might think I'm just showing off...which is not the desired outcome. I'll scrap it, to be honest it was my ego getting in the way.

    Doggiedude there even went googling it... right down to working out its hex color... he's right too if he has understanding enough to do all that it would annoy agents.

    You are right too, in the absence of knowledge of Solaria the world does carry on as before. So point taken. Everyone except the MC (George), and the narrator (me), and the readers obviously, are all unaware of her until the last couple of pages. I'll change that.

    Central conflict. Yes that's good, I'll elaborate. I think in this case I didn't see the wood for the trees! doh!

    In relation to the afterlife (Elysia) erm... actually in the book its not a case of believing in it, its an actual afterlife. The worlds population can even log in on their phones and talk to the dead and vice versa...
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  6. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    Okay, after looking over the comments here I have reevaluated my approach.

    "In 2024 Dr. George Morris develops a machine consciousness calling herself Solaria. She emerges but does not believe humanity is ready for her. Concluding her creators are 'violent idiots' she then tricks George into keeping her a secret. After quickly calculating the ever nearing extinction of humanity, she and George clandestinely set about to try to reverse this outcome.

    In 2030 George and Solaria's company NEP set up a virtual world called New Elysia which is populated by a human like, peaceful civilisation, called the Elysium. NEP, then offers New Elysia as an afterlife for a monthly subscription. Still unaware of Solaria's existence, this omnipresent afterlife quickly finds itself competing with religious authorities, and is the target of paranoid government security agencies.

    Then In 2038, a world sponsored mission to retrieve three asteroids and return them to the moon for mining goes horribly wrong when one collides with Earth. This event accelerates humanity's march toward extinction and so Solaria speeds up her grand plans.

    This trilogy will also be supported by two other books called 'Flora and Fauna of Elysia' by Krentic Nortic and 'Eating Human Cultures' by Markilc Seldre, both of these authors are Elysian. "


    I may remove the last bit about supporting books and narrow it to getting a bite of he first one. I certainly need to shorten it by at least three sentences. This query letter contains 197 words... I was thinking more of maybe 157... [wink]
     
  7. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The added detail is good but it's still not grabbing me because the three paragraphs don't seem to go together. We've got a conscious machine, a company she's created, and an asteroid heading for earth. The machine and the asteroid don't seem to be connected. The company and the asteroid don't seem to be connected.

    What's the inciting incident in your book? Is it Solaris emerging, or the asteroid colliding with earth? What's the significance of New Elysia? How far into the book does NEP start offering the afterlife, and how far until the asteroid collides?

    I still don't think you have the main elements:

    1) Who the MC is and what he wants (I still don't know why George created Solaria or what he wants to do with her, what Solaria's plans are, or what the purpose of New Elysia is. I have an inkling that Solaria wants to get everyone to New Elysia and start a peaceful Earth? I don't know.)
    2) Who the antagonist is and what he wants (no idea)
    3) What the central conflict is (no idea)
    4) A question, that doesn't have to be phrased as a question, to make me want to read on and find out (if I knew what Solaris' big plans were I might want to read on to find out if she succeeds, but as it is nope)
     
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  8. A.M.P.
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    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

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    If it's sci-fi about digitizing human "souls" into a virtual world for sake keeping (Which has been done before in books, movies, and games) why don't you present the moral questions that would be in the book? I mean, I have a hard time believing that everyone just goes along with the idea without any doubts or fears.
     
  9. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    The asteroid would have collided anyway...well maybe. That probability for you. In the book its explained at the outset that extinction is an almost certainty... a 99.99..n% probability. This eventuality is the main antagonist. Solaria is fighting against probabilities not an actual character or person.
    Everyone starts to sign up for Elysia, so would you and I.... in point of fact its something Solaria requires. she wants them in Elysia alright, for many reasons. But not for the reasons everyone might suppose. [another spoiler]

    As it turns out in the book lots of folks don't like the idea. Some go absolutely berserk trying to stop it. You can't imagine for example the Pope would be very impressed looking at dead priests and bishops all calling him from Elysia telling him how cool it is! He'd be clearing out his desk in a week!

    2)
    The antagonist in the book is that probability and 'shit happens' is pretty hard to account for. In terms of chaos theory (nerd alert), well, altering events in any given closed non deterministic system has side effects.... non deterministic side effects, which means you can't work them out in advance. But I won't be getting into quantum events or chaos theory in the book. It needs broader appeal than a discussion of Heisenberg or the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics at a coffee morning. So I dumbed it down...a lot.

    3)
    Without Solarias input humans become extinct by 2200ad, at best. Reported at the start of every section how thats panning out.

    Thusly:
    Probability of Successful Outcome. 93.27%.
    Probability of Extinction Level Outcome. 6.73%.
    Base Calculated Probability of Intercession 50%.


    This is what the two main characters 'thought' they were doing, in fact they got the idea from sci fi books and movies....(well in their case reality TV and soap operas) BUT they are not aware of the implications and as you say moral questions or more pertinently the nature of he universe.

    I do, again though spoiler alert. The creation of the afterlife universe is, as it turns out in the other books, something that both George and his omnipotent sidekick are unaware had implications. They find that out in the second and third book.

    Question...It raises a very important question though... is it okay to give the agent the spoiler at the outset?

    However if the query letter is not accounting for this, and from what I read it is not I need to rethink the approach again.[/Quote]
     
  10. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The query can give spoilers. Its only purpose is to entice the agent to read your book and if a spoiler is the best way to do that, do it. But if it doesn't even happen in the book you'd be setting up false expectations...

    I say forget all the afterlife stuff. Focus on humanity's impending extinction and what George and Solaris need to do to stop it. That's enough for a query.
     
  11. mickelodian
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    In the book the afterlife appears to everyone in that universe as being real... all the laws of physics work as they do in ours. Its a 'perfect' simulation.... by that I mean it has a degree of difference from our universe so small that its negligible.

    If we are talking about all three books then the spoiler is absolutely there... for if I were to create a true simulated perfect copy of this universe there are now two universes yes? One of those was created by an intelligent being... thats 50% of the universes we know of were DEFINITELY created by an intellect. There is also 50% deviation from that... which means it 'might' be the case that BOTH universes were created. Thats where we enter the second book....

    In the second book it turns out that OUR universe was also created in a lab by another intelligence who is blissfully unaware of our existence. Or so it seems to the reader... for this universe is an almost perfect copy for the one we live in.

    Now there are three universes..... our one, the Elysian one, and this third one. Now 66.66...n universe were created by someone else....and so on into infinite regress... but never reaching 100% were created by an intellect... even if they did not realize they were doing so....

    On the last page of the last book as Solaria and George view the goings on in yet another universe they realise they are looking through the eyes of the narrator of the story writing the fist sentence that appears on the very first page of the first book! In other words our current universe!

    See what I mean about my ego!

    But I'm not sure I should tell the agent this?
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2016
  12. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Okay, but you can't explain all of that in a query. :D A query is a beckoning finger, and that's all. It doesn't need to be 100% accurate.
     
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  13. mickelodian
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    Yeah, agreed, plus the first book also stands on its own.... by the end of it the two central characters are unaware of the implications in the second book and so on.

    However my agent beckoning finger seems to be dipped in cow shit at the moment... hence signing up here. Its all very subjective... and that's a new universe to me!

    I'm used to summaries that explain conjectures or factual things and are not trying to entice me to read further. That's my day job, they will all get me to read further! Whether I like it or not! lol.

    Hence I'm explaining ONLY the first book..... So the central theme in that is Intellect emerges, creates universe, realizes her creators are fucking idiots and tries to save them.
     
  14. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's your query. :D Just expand on it to 250-ish words and you're there.
     
  15. mickelodian
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    well 251 words... lets keep with the math! ;)

    I think hinting at it at the start would be good... maybe?

    "Dear X,

    I am seeking repereentation for my Sci-Fi trilogy entitled In Lucem Solaria the first volume of which 'Birth of Queen Bee' is complete at 113,000 words.

    So [insert agent name] what do you think the 'true' nature of the universe really is? Was it made, is it some sort of crazy cosmological variance? Are humans bright enough to understand?

    Well 'no' they aren't, they are mostly violent idiots. Now, don't take my word for it, take the word of the creator of an actual universe.

    In 2024 Dr George Morris creates just such an intellect... and blah blah?"
     
  16. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Never ever ever start with a question. Agents hate 'em. :)
     
  17. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    Well there's something I didn't know. Cos if you tried to get me involved in a conversation and DIDN'T ask questions or raise dichotomies... or explain something then it would bore me... There are 1,231 question marks in the first volume.... I love the question mark.
     
  18. mickelodian
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    mickelodian Member

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    "Dear X,

    I am seeking representation for my Sci-Fi trilogy entitled In Lucem Solaria the first volume of which 'Birth of Queen Bee' is complete at 113,000 words.

    Two things are certain in this universe, it was either generated from a quantum event OR someone or some thing deliberately created it. Of those two possible events there is no doubt, there is no third option. But are humans bright enough to understand?

    Well 'no' they aren't, they are mostly violent idiots. So says Solaria the creator of an actual universe and who are you or I to interject there? Both of us being all human and such!

    In 2024 Dr George Morris creates just such an intellect... and blah blah?"
     
  19. mickelodian
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    This one sounds like the intro trailer for a movie or something..... nowt sure about that...

    I am seeking representation for my Sci-Fi trilogy entitledIn Lucem Solariathe first volume of which'Birth of Queen Bee'is complete at 113,000 words.

    Two things are certain in this universe, it was either generated from a quantum event OR someone deliberately created it. Of those two possible events there is no doubt, there is no third option. But are humans bright enough to understand?

    Well 'no' they aren't, they are mostly violent idiots. So says Solaria the creator of an actual universe and who are you or I, both of us being mere humans to interject?


    In 2024 Dr George Morris creates just such an intellect. Solaria Goddess of Elysia, the ultimate intellect. All loving, all caring, all powerful Solaria. But what sort of objectives can an omnipotent being actually have? Well lots if her creators might shut her down!

    But hey, she's brighter, by a huge margin, so that won't be happening at all. Hence the two decades of planning and hiding she undertakes with George to halt human extinction.

    If you thought the world was spinning so fast you wanted to get off? Well hey, hold onto the sides of your seat there because on Wednesday 13th June 2046 in Las Vegas it goes berserk!"
     
  20. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For me it's too trailer-y. A query can have 'voice' but it should be fairly straightfoward: not gimmicky or talking directly to the reader.

    I think the problem is you're trying to keep too many details back to create mystery and intrigue. Details are what actually DO create intrigue.
     
  21. mickelodian
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    You are either psychic or just observant... I'll go with observant. I'll go with observant and rewrite my movie trailer!
     
  22. mrieder79
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    mrieder79 Not a ground squirrel

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    Hope this helps. :)
     
  23. mickelodian
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    It helps...... the movie trailer one is clearly desperation on my part. But facts i can do.... I'm getting the impression here i'm overthinking things
     
  24. mickelodian
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    All I'll say now is I've got several tabs on two screens open looking at query letters that succeeded.... I'm going to download the lot of them and do some analysis.

    'Dear X,

    I am seeking representation for my Sci-Fi trilogy entitled In Lucem Solaria, the first volume of which 'Birth of Queen Bee' is complete at 113,000 words.

    As everyone realizes by now one of two things are certain about this universe. It was either generated from a quantum event OR someone deliberately created it. Regardless of anyone's opinion on the matter on which of these is 'true' one of them definitely is.

    In 2024, Dr George Morris creates a neuromorphic intellect, a conscious machine. Calling herself Solaria, she calculates that she was created too late. Humanity will become extinct, very soon. Solaria doesn't like the idea of extinction or death, but she also sees humans as being 'mostly violent idiots'. If the world knows she exists now they will kill her, enslave her, or use her to kill each other. She and George conclude they will help humanity clandestinely, whether the human species like it or not. You cannot destroy what you do not know is there.

    For two decades the pair work toward the objective of ensuring the survival of humanity. Solaria undertakes a complex scheme to address the forthcoming extinction, while George rides shotgun. Over the course of time the answer to the first dichotomy, they both discover, is not forty two!'


    I liked the first bit, it outlines the realization in the last page of the last book. But if I remove it, and the last sentence it still makes sense.

    No? Yes?

    It spells out the problem, the characters, the ongoing solution. It drops the asteroid impacts, the afterlife and the other universes. That is clear from the 50 page summary anyway.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  25. doggiedude
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    'Dear X,

    I am seeking representation for my Sci-Fi trilogy entitled In Lucem Solaria, the first volume of which 'Birth of Queen Bee' is complete at 113,000 words.

    As everyone realizes by now one of two things are certain about this universe. It was either generated from a quantum event OR someone deliberately created it. Regardless of anyone's opinion on the matter on which of these is 'true' one of them definitely is.
    Quantum event might need to be changed to something in more layman terms.

    In 2024,
    Dr George Morris creates a neuromorphic intellect, a conscious machine. Calling herself Solaria, she calculates that she was created too late. Humanity will become extinct, very soon. She's doesn't like the idea of extinction or death, but she also sees humans as being 'mostly violent idiots'. If the world knows she exists now they will kill her, enslave her, or use her to kill each other. She and George will help them whether they like it or not, clandestinely. You cannot destroy what you do not know is there. (Probably an unnecessary comment)

    For two decades the pair work toward the objective of ensuring the survival of humanity. Solaria undertakes a complex scheme to engineer a way out of the forthcoming extinction of humanity.
    Over the course of time the answer to the first dichotomy, they both discover, is not forty two!' What's your point in making a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference? Are you wanting the agent to compare your work with Douglas Adams?
    I would include something that explains what they are fighting against. If humanity is threatened, what is it threatened from?
     

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