1. Adam Bolander

    Adam Bolander Senior Member

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    Query Letter Young Adult Urban Fantasy Query Letter

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Adam Bolander, Apr 5, 2020.

    I think I'm about ready to start querying Henry Rider: Clown Hunter again. How does this letter sound?

    Dear [agent],

    Fifteen year old Henrietta “Henry” Rider is the Hunter, the only thing standing between the human race and total chaos.

    God help us all.

    Henry dreams of gaining her people’s respect by hunting down the corrupted maiams, who live only to kill and consume human laughter. Born into the klaon race’s lowest class, her powers weakened even further by a disability she doesn’t speak of, she has her work cut out for her. But then she meets Ethan, a young human whose recent trauma has rendered incapable of laughing. The power stored inside him could feed the entire klaon population for months, or create the most powerful maiam ever seen. Seeing this as her chance to prove herself, Henry volunteers to watch over Ethan until he learns to laugh again—no matter what. But a masked killer also has his sights set on Ethan, and he hides secrets that will turn Henry’s whole world upside down. With Ethan’s help, she’ll have to uncover a sinister plot that goes far deeper into her own culture than she could ever guess.

    Mr./Mrs./Ms.[agent], my name is Adam Bolander, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to my young adult urban fantasy novel, Henry Rider: Clown Hunter. Full of humor, suspense, and frantic anime-esque action, this is a story that will thrill middle and high school audiences. The best part is that, at 76,000 words, even reluctant readers won’t be scared away! Below, you can find [whatever they ask for], and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Thank you for taking the time to consider me, [agent]. I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Sincerely,

    Adam Bolander
     
  2. Steve Hill

    Steve Hill New Member

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    I like it. The phrase "turn[s his] whole world upside down" is a bit of a cliche and doesn't stress the stakes enough, nor what Henry risks losing. Otherwise, I thought it was a good job.
     
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  3. Jasmine Mander

    Jasmine Mander New Member

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    Maybe try expanding a bit as to why Henry doesn't have her people's respect in the first place.
     
  4. ruskaya

    ruskaya Senior Member

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    I have never submitted a query, but I did read about it just because I had no idea what a query was and I was curious about the process. From those readings I suggest you spoil the ending, because the person is your potential agent, not a reader, so she needs to see the whole "product".
     
  5. HeathBar

    HeathBar Active Member

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    I'm a querying novice, but generally found this engaging and easy to read. One nit - is there a word missing here? I feel like you might need a "him" between "rendered" and "incapable." Or maybe it's the "whose." There's something off about the agreement.
     
  6. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    In my experience, spoiling the ending is typically reserved for a synopsis. The query itself is more of a pitch. I think OP is in the clear on this front.

    Turning to the query itself, it seems pretty solid. I'll agree with HeathBar that there appears to be a missing word. Otherwise, you might consider adding comparable titles/authors to your final paragraph, but it's not absolutely necessary.
     
    Medazza likes this.
  7. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Henry's feisty personality is a huge asset to the story, and helps to drive it. Another kind of person would never have persevered the way she does. How would you characterise her as a person? Maybe see what you could do to inject her personality into the query. (Even a quote from her might help.) That would make the story sound much more interesting. This query gives no hint of what she is like ...and what she is like is maybe more important to the story than the bare plot would indicate.

    I also reckon people reading this query will assume Henry is a human (from her name) ...and that klaons are a race or fictional nation of humans. However, then Ethan, 'a human,' appears ...and folks may be left scratching their heads. Okay, why the distinction? This must mean Henry isn't human, then—if Ethan IS? So if Henry herself isn't human, then what IS she? What does she look like? Has she got two heads? Eight feet? Hair all over her body? If you could interject a word or two early on, as to how klaons differ from humans, that might help to nail the situation—and help the agent realise that a reader will be able to identify with Henry.

    You could probably leave out the bit about her disability ...which, as you can see from reactions here, is likely to elicit the question "What kind of disability?" It's a bit of a sidetrack here, that comes across as an unnecessary mystery that the query agent doesn't actually need to solve (or wonder about.)

    I am also very tempted to tinker with these couple of sentences. I think I'd prefer to see them written like this:

    In my opinion, there isn't really anything technically wrong with this query (except the missing word that others have noted) but it lacks oomph. Your story itself is lively and engaging from the outset, but that's not really coming across here.

    If you could throw a bit more personality into the query, while simplifying the plot convolutions (like the disability, etc) I think that would make the query stand out. You have lots of good characters. You have Henry's demanding mentor who is NEVER pleased, even though she does accomplish what he's set her to do. You have Ethan's irritating naievity and clinginess. You have Henry's own tendency to land herself in big trouble through awkward timing and impatience. Also her bravado that hides her nervousness, coupled with her tendency to see the ridiculous side of every situation (even when humour is an inconvenience to fight or flight) ....all these things make the story a lot more interesting than just who did what to whom.
     
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  8. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Comments inserted in blue below:

    --------------------------------

    Fifteen year old Henrietta “Henry” Rider is the Hunter, the only thing standing between the human race and total chaos.

    God help us all.

    Henry dreams of gaining her people’s respect by hunting down the corrupted maiams, who live only to kill and consume human laughter. Born into the klaon [shouldn't this be capitalised?] race’s lowest class, her powers weakened even further by a disability she doesn’t speak of [you have not mentioned this again at all in the query - does this become an obstacle for her, or not? If it does, I want to know how. If it doesn't, then I wouldn't mention this at all], she has her work cut out for her [I don't understand what you mean by this. Usually this phrase means that something has been made easy for someone. In what way does having a disability and being in the lowest class make gaining respect easy?]. But then she meets Ethan, a young human whose recent trauma [I assume this trauma is related to the maiams? Might be a good point to bring them back in] has rendered incapable of laughing. The power [what power? He's human. This doesn't make sense to me] stored inside him could feed the entire klaon population for months, or create the most powerful maiam ever seen. Seeing this as her chance to prove herself [how does this help her prove herself? I thought she wanted to hunt the maiams. In what way does making Ethan laugh again achieve this?], Henry volunteers to watch over Ethan until he learns to laugh again—no matter what. But a masked killer also has his sights set on Ethan [this seems unconnected to anything you've said before - why is he targeting Ethan? And the stake previously was that Ethan has the potential to become a maiam, but now the threat is he could be killed - the two don't go together. Which stake is the driving force?], and he hides secrets that will turn Henry’s whole world upside down. With Ethan’s help, she’ll have to uncover a sinister plot that goes far deeper into her own culture than she could ever guess. [this seems unrelated to anything you've said before. What are the stakes here?]

    Mr./Mrs./Ms.[agent], my name is Adam Bolander, and I’m thrilled to introduce you to my young adult urban fantasy novel, Henry Rider: Clown Hunter. Full of humor, suspense, and frantic anime-esque action, this is a story that will thrill middle and high school audiences. The best part is that, at 76,000 words, even reluctant readers won’t be scared away! Below, you can find [whatever they ask for], and I sincerely hope you enjoy it. Thank you for taking the time to consider me, [agent]. I look forward to hearing back from you!

    Sincerely,

    Adam Bolander
     
    Adam Bolander likes this.
  9. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Nope, Adams usage is correct, it means the opposite of that

    Screenshot_2020-11-28 to have your work cut out - Google Search.png
     
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  10. Mckk

    Mckk Member Supporter Contributor

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    Whaaaa!? I can see you're right. Clearly I've lived abroad too long :bigmeh: I'm forgetting my idioms!!! :supercry:
     
  11. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    The etymology is in tailoring, where someone who has his work cut out for him will have to sew one piece after another without pause to do other tasks
     
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