1. Zachary Phoenix

    Zachary Phoenix Member

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    Query Letter Adult Sci-fi/Fantasy

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Zachary Phoenix, Oct 30, 2019.

    ***REVISED VERSION FURTHER DOWN THE THREAD***
    I'd love to get any input about my query letter. It's already around the standard accepted length, but does it need to be longer? More detail? Any thoughts at all are greatly appreciated.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Dear agent,

    Phereniki Nix is on a mission to find a new habitable planet for her people. When she reaches a star system hundreds of light years away, she discovers Relekep, a fantastical world seemingly perfect for her. The only problem: it's already inhabited.

    A young Relek named Adriel dreams of adventure and exploration, something very unlikely on his tranquil world with its predictable people. But something different has begun to happen. A group of Releks known as the Vappa are causing disturbances, disrupting the peaceful society with a strange new idea called religion. The pacifist Releks can do nothing against the extremist Vappa and their vicious leader.

    Since Phereniki’s people won’t be allowed to settle there if the Vappa are victorious, she must find a way to help her new friends in their time of need, and prove that her people can co-exist alongside them. And Adriel must succeed in rallying his people to stand and fight, all while attempting to win Phereniki's heart despite their interplanetary differences.

    Thrust into a perilous new world full of powerful enemies, Phereniki and Adriel find themselves working together - unlikely hero's in a race against destruction.


    TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is a #Ownvoice, dual POV SFF. It takes a look at one of the most common, yet historically under-represented and marginalized voices in our own society, and turns the societal norm on its head. It is about the immutable strength to stand up when others would sit, and to say out loud what dare not be said – but what must be said.

    TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is complete at 124k words and is the first in a trilogy. (The full outline for the sequel has already been completed) It is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2019
  2. Knightmare

    Knightmare New Member

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    Dear agent,

    (Need a one sentence hook first, right here.)

    (Age?) Phereniki Nix is on a mission to find a new habitable planet for her people. When she reaches a star system hundreds of light years away, she discovers Relekep, a fantastical world seemingly perfect for her. The only problem: it's already inhabited. (Getting a James Cameron's Avatar feel)

    A young Relek (Age, and a what? What is that?) named Adriel (So we have two main characters?) dreams of adventure and exploration, something very unlikely on his tranquil world with its predictable people (how does peace halt adventure? In the Hobbit, Bilbo leaves the peaceful life to go on adventure. And an actual alien visiting your planet sounds adventurous to me). But something different has begun to happen. A group of Releks known as the Vappa (So is this a tribe?) are causing disturbances, disrupting the peaceful society with a strange new idea called religion (How is it a problem though? Religion itself isn't evil, but extremism is. What are they doing? Are they attacking those refusing to conform?). The pacifist Releks can do nothing against the extremist (Specify the extremist aspect ahead) Vappa and their vicious leader.

    Since Phereniki’s people won’t be allowed to settle there if the Vappa are victorious, she must find a way to help her new friends in their time of need, and prove that her people can co-exist alongside them. And Adriel must succeed in rallying his people to stand and fight, all while attempting to win Phereniki's heart despite their interplanetary differences (Wait so does he truly love her or is this a political move? Why is it needed?).

    Thrust into a perilous new world full of powerful enemies (Do these aliens have cool abilities?), Phereniki and Adriel find themselves working together - unlikely hero's heroes in a race against destruction.


    TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is a #Ownvoice, dual POV SFF. It takes a look at one of the most common, yet historically under-represented and marginalized voices in our own society, and turns the societal norm on its head. It is about the immutable strength to stand up when others would sit, and to say out loud what dare not be said – but what must be said. (This is all TELL, a letter needs to SHOW this.)

    (You don't have to repeat this title) TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is complete at 124k words and is the first in a trilogy. (The full outline for the sequel has already been completed) It is my debut novel. (Trust me when I say getting ahead of yourself is bad)

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    This reminds me of a query I wrote for my first book, which I tossed away. Because, like this query, it was heavily rushed and the query felt like an info-dump. I'm writing a book intended to launch a series, but I do not mention that and have written the story in a manner that allows it to work as a standalone. While I admire the desire for a series, you're getting ahead of yourself and need to rethink your strategy and story. Think about Hunger Games. Notice how the first book, the way it is written in first person POV, makes it so that the story works as a standalone. While the film hints for the sequels, all the events that launched the sequels happened off-page during the first book.

    Here the letter is a huge pile of too much info and I can't tell who is my main character or what's the true problem. At first I get the feel it's about an explorer who lands on a planet that already has sentient inhabitants and thus creates a colonial-era style of a conflict, but then I get a story about aliens getting religion. It feels like two stories on top of each other. I have to reread it to understand. And who is my primary focus? The native or the alien explorer looking for a new home?

    My suggestion, try to rewrite this letter from scratch. It's what I would do. And you NEED a hook. That's what gets the agent wanting to read more.
     
  3. Zachary Phoenix

    Zachary Phoenix Member

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    Revision.
    Took out a bit. Added a bit. Moved some sections around.
    Thoughts?

    Adriel is a young alien who dreams of adventure and exploration, something very unlikely on his tranquil world with its predictable people. But something different has begun to happen. A group known as the Vappa are causing disturbances, disrupting the peaceful society with a strange new idea called religion. The pacifist people can do nothing against the extremist Vappa and their vicious leader, who want to put an end to all who don’t believe.


    Phereniki Nix is on a mission to find a new habitable planet for her people. When she reaches a star system hundreds of light years away, she discovers Relekep, a fantastical world seemingly perfect for her. The only problem: it's already inhabited.


    Since Phereniki’s people won’t be allowed to settle there if the Vappa are victorious, she must find a way to help her new friends in their time of need, and prove that her people can co-exist alongside them. And Adriel must succeed in rallying his people to stand and fight, all while attempting to win Phereniki's heart despite their interplanetary differences.


    Thrust into a perilous new world full of powerful enemies, Phereniki and Adriel find themselves working together - unlikely heroes in a race against destruction.


    TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is a #Ownvoice, dual POV SFF. It takes a look at one of the most common, yet historically under-represented and marginalized voices in our own society, and turns the societal norm on its head.

    I spent my entire life searching for the novel that represented and normalized the ideals of non-believers, while simultaneously telling a unique and nuanced story. But I never found it. I decided to take it upon myself to change that. This novel is about the immutable strength to stand up when others would sit, and to say out loud what dare not be said – but what must be said.

    My manuscript is complete at 124k words and is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
     
  4. MDane

    MDane New Member

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    Interesting idea. My thoughts are in bold.

    Adriel is a young alien who dreams of adventure and exploration, something very unlikely on his tranquil world with its predictable people (Monotonous maybe? it seems a little long and lacks impact). But something different has begun to happen. A group known as the Vappa are causing disturbances, disrupting the peaceful society with a strange new idea called religion. The pacifist people can do nothing against the extremist Vappa and their vicious leader, who want to put an end (Exterminate might be stronger)to all who don’t believe.


    Phereniki Nix is on a mission to find a new habitable planet for her people. When she reaches a star system hundreds of light years away, she discovers Relekep, a fantastical world seemingly perfect for her. The only problem: it's already inhabited.


    Since Phereniki’s people won’t be allowed to settle there if the Vappa are victorious, she must find a way to help her new friends in their time of need, and prove that her people can co-exist alongside them. (the following does not flow on from the previous sentence. Perhaps a new paragraph is needed)And Adriel must succeed in rallying his people to stand and fight, all while attempting to win Phereniki's heart despite their interplanetary differences.


    Thrust into a perilous new world full of powerful enemies, Phereniki and Adriel find themselves working together - unlikely heroes in a race against destruction.


    TO WALK AMIDST SAVAGES is an #Ownvoice, dual POV SFF. It takes a look at one of the most common, yet historically under-represented and marginalized voices in our own society, and turns the societal norm on its head.

    I spent my entire life searching for the novel that represented and normalized the ideals of non-believers, while simultaneously telling a unique and nuanced story. But I never found it. I decided to take it upon myself to change that. This novel is about the immutable strength to stand up when others would sit, and to say out loud what dare not be said – but what must be said. Unnecessary and achieves nothing in the query.

    My manuscript is complete at 124k words and is my debut novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.[/QUOTE]


    Well done on completing your first novel. My suggestion, and I know you're not going to like it, is 124k words is too long for a debut novel. If you can cull it to under 100k I think you would have more luck. All the best
     
    Zachary Phoenix likes this.
  5. Zachary Phoenix

    Zachary Phoenix Member

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    MDane - Thanks for the feedback! It's funny, I hadn't been on this site in a while, and the day I come back to it you've left a critique. :)

    "Exterminate" will be better, I think. I've already changed the wording of that sentence around from what
    it is here, so I'll have to see if it will fit the rhythm.

    It's interesting that you would cut that whole paragraph. I've received mixed advice about this. Some say you should include something like that to show what makes you stand out, and why you decided to write the novel. Others, like yourself, say it's unnecessary. I guess maybe I'll try some queries with the paragraph, and some without, and see if one of them gets more responses. Science!

    As to it being too long, I have to disagree. The standard length of a Sci-fi/Fantasy novel with lots of world-building is from 125k to 150k. And for things like High Fantasy, well, that goes even longer. Sure, some are shorter, but the norm is for the length that mine is. (Which I've already cut wordcount a fair bit for. It used to be over 130k) I think if an agent saw a query for a dual POV Sci-fi/Fantasy novel set on a different planet, and it had 100k words or less, they would be very concerned that there wasn't enough story or the world wasn't fully developed. I've heard of agents who passed for that alone.

    Thanks again for your thoughts. I'll see if I can incorporate some of it into my letter.
     
  6. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    IDK what the rules are on professional etiquette is, but I don't
    think that having a '#' in your query letter will look less mature,
    and possibly turn off an agent or publisher.

    Like I said IDK what those rules are, but it may be important.
     
  7. Zachary Phoenix

    Zachary Phoenix Member

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    Cave Troll - I understand your confusion. I agree it looks weird. Ownvoices is specifically a Twitter phrase. When people use it in any context, it's used as #Ownvoices. However, I'm sure an agent would know what I'm talking about if I left the hashtag out. I probably will, since I don't like the look of the hashtag myself.
     
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  8. Gman

    Gman New Member

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    It's an interesting concept. But like Mdane said I think it may be a bit too long for a debut. 100k and under seems to be the norm for new authors.
     

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