1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander New Member

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    Query, Henry Rider: Clown Hunter

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Adam Bolander, Sep 15, 2019.

    I've been sending out query letters for my new YA urban fantasy novel, Henry Rider: Clown Hunter, and I figure I should get some feedback on the letter itself before I send out any more. If the ones I've already sent don't work, I'll need to fix whatever's wrong sooner or later. So any critiques I could get would be welcome!

    This is the base letter. I change it up depending on the agent's requirements or if there's anything I think they'd want to hear.

    Dear Mr./Ms. [agent],

    Fifteen year old Henrietta “Henry” Rider is a klaon, a magical race that has fed on our laughter since the beginning of time, bringing us joy in exchange for sustenance. But our laughter must be given willingly. Taking it by force kills the host and turns the klaon into a ravenous monster. It’s Henry’s job, as the council’s Hunter, to protect the human race in a struggle they don’t even know exists. Being born into the lowest class in her society severely limits Henry’s powers, but that only makes her more determined to prove herself. Then she meets Ethan, a traumatized young man who has lost the ability to laugh. The power he holds inside him could either feed half their population, or create the most powerful monster they’ve ever seen. Seeing this as her chance to earn the council’s respect, she volunteers to protect him—even if it means never leaving his side. But other forces have their sights set on Ethan, and with his help Henry will uncover a conspiracy that goes all the way down to her people’s roots.

    My name is Adam Bolander, and I’m ecstatic to tell you about my YA urban fantasy novel. Henry Rider: Clown Hunter (77,000 words) is a roller coaster ride of a book, full of quirky and relatable characters, magical races unlike any seen before, and nonstop action and adventure! Hilarious when it needs to be, frighteningly serious in others, boys and girls alike will find a lot to love in this story. As requested, the first [however many they want] pages of the book are below. Thank you for your time and consideration, [agent]. I hope we get the chance to work together very soon!


    Sincerely,

    Adam Bolander
     
  2. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I am TOTALLY not qualified here, because I don't do query letters and intend to self-publish. I have been working on a back-cover blurb, though, which contains similar elements. I had a lot of help from forum people with this knotty problem. It's not easy to write about your own work, is it?

    However, while your story summary sounds pretty good (a few reservations discussed below) are you allowed to paragraph while writing query letters? I think it might read better if it was split into three (again, below.)

    I also think an agent might be put off by your overconfident tone in the second existing paragraph.

    They will want to know your name, the name of the book, the word count, who the book is aimed at, etc. But maybe let them make up their own minds about the quality of the offering?

    Words like 'ecstatic,' 'never seen before,' 'nonstop action' (which can actually be exhausting to read ...I do hope that's not what your book is like) 'hilarious,' etc ...all might be better toned down, or left out altogether. These are the kinds of words a reviewer might use, but when promoting your own work it sounds a bit over the top. Maybe? My reaction was: I'll be the judge of THAT.

    The story does sound interesting, though. Although I do have a few questions about aspects of it.

    Here is the way I would break it into paragraphs, if that's allowed in query letters. Comments in blue :

    Just my non-agent reaction here. You probably know more about querying than I do! :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2019
  3. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback! I'll keep all that in mind when I go to rewrite it. To answer your questions, klaons can take your laughter by force by essentially vampirizing it out of you. Laughter is one of the few pure good things left in the world, but taking it forcefully corrupts it and turns the klaon into a monster. Not sure if I can explain that in the summary without making it long and clunky, though.

    And Ethan is so powerful because he can still feel joy and happiness, but every time he tries to laugh he remember his mysterious tragic past (woooo!) and finds he can't do it because he's too guilty. So all of his laughter has been stored up inside of him for over half a year. Releasing it all at once could feed half the klaon population, but if a maiam (the monster klaons) got it and vampirized it out of him, it'd become so powerful that it'd pretty much be indestructible.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think if you can get some of these elements condensed down ...vampirizing is a good image ...you will nail the plot a bit more firmly. I think in blurb/query writing any kind of vagueness is a good thing to avoid. More specific word choices, etc, can help.

    The notion that Ethan has stored up years of laughter but hasn't been able to express it —thus making it a really powerful force if it is ever released—is a good one to reveal here. As things stand, the klaon obsession with him seems rather silly. If you can make this 'explosive' potential of years of stored joy and laughter clear to the reader of the query, then it will all fall into place.
     
  5. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander New Member

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    So maybe something like "The laughter he's stored up over several months could either feed the..." bla bla bla? I'm having trouble with the first bit, though. "But they must never give in to the temptation to steal it, like an emotional vampire, or else be turned into ravenous monsters"?
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say give yourself a few days to think about it and try out different wordings. And wait for other people to chime in here.

    I don't know enough about your story to make a real judgement, but it does sound a bit daft if Ethan has simply not laughed for several months. I'm sure there are lots of people who go several months without laughing ...they are ill, or grieving, or depressed. What makes him special in this regard? Focus on that, if you can.
     
  7. oreopaw

    oreopaw New Member

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    I agree with Jannert about the second paragraph. I think most of it should probably be cut. You want to let the agent come to those conclusions herself instead of shoving them in her face. Right now, it's a bit reminiscent of an overly excited infomercial. The first paragraph sounds pretty good though.
    Good luck!
     

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