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Status: Drafting the fourth book in the PERILOUS series!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mark's Query Letter

I know Saturday is a dead day, so I'll leave this up until Monday.

This is my husband's query letter. Please tell me what you think! Suggestions, etc. It's a generic query letter, once we have it really good we'll make it specific, depending, of course, on which agent we query.

My address


Date

Agent

Agent address

Dear ??:


I am submitting my novel Keeper of the Key to you for consideration because…????. Written for a young adult audience, the completed story has a word count of 58,000. An adventure novel with elements of fantasy, the book bears similar characteristics with C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia.

Peter is the oldest son of a hard-working farmer. What he doesn’t know is that his father is really the Keeper, leader of an ancient city and holder of a mystic key. When the key begins to speak to Peter, he is forced to leave his home and become the new Keeper. He’s thrown into a world of secrecy, betrayal, and danger, and he learns quickly to fight for himself and those he loves.

But the key has its own agenda. It’s waging a war, and Peter has been chosen to lead the survivors.

I earned my BA in History from Brigham Young University. This is my first novel. I anticipate this book being the first of a four-book series. It fits right next to books such as ?? and ??, which you represented. If you are interested, I will gladly send you either the first three chapters of this story, or the complete manuscript. I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE for your reply. If you prefer, you can send an e-mail. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Best wishes,


11 comments:

Jay said...

It sounds interesting, Tamara. Take anything I say with a grain of salt because, although I focus on YA, I'm unpublished. Anyway, from what I've read and the conferences I've attended, I would shy away from mentioning Chronicles of Narnia in the query for a few reasons. Although it doesn't say "this is as good as Narnia", it does say it's got similar characteristics. That's a comparison and I'd avoid it because this is CS Lewis we're talking about. Also, it's not a "current" book and they want to see how it fits in today's market, which the letter alludes to in the last paragraph, so definitely flesh that out.

There is a gap between his father being the keeper of the key and all of a sudden him needing to be the keeper. Did his father die? Is there something you can put in there to add to the intrigue? Also, who are they fighting against? Can Mark add something on who the bad guy is? I love the "key has its own agenda" part. That's pretty cool.

Mentioning the degree from BYU - in theory, it shouldn't be relevant here, unless you believe this awesome publishing myth (it's a really funny post, too) http://editorialanonymous.blogspot.com/2009/12/publishing-myths-contest.html

Mentioning that it'll be a series - I've done it while mentioning that the next book is half done. Some agents said it was fine to mention, others said they didn't care.

I hope this helps. Happy New Year!

M. Gray said...

Hey Tamara! I agree with everything Jay said. I was thinking about this query today and realized a possible similar comparison--The Last Apprentice series. 60k is about their length, the stories are for YA, and it's about a boy who leaves his father's farm to take his new role in life (in this case, it's as a Spook's apprentice and he learns the craft of binding boggarts and trapping witches so that's different but you can see the similarity). The author is Joseph Delaney but I'm not sure who his agent is.

Also, Nathan Bransford says one of the biggest thing he looks for is the flow of the letter. It feels a bit choppy. But with the additions to to plot that Jay suggested I think that could help quite a bit.

That said, it was a very good query. Sounds like a great story! I think you could offer a little more story-line wise. But, who knows if I know what I'm talking about. I queried about 60 agents and didn't get any takers until WiDo saw my "potential."

How cute! You both are writing books!!!

mark said...

Hey Jay and M. Gray,

Thanks for the advice! Some great things to help.

Jay, you made me laugh about the BYU thing b/c I didn't know it was a status symbol--it's just a fact. It's where I got my degree from. I suppose we could say, "I earned a bachelor's in history from an undisclosed university..."

Sara McClung ♥ said...

I don't have an agent and I haven't queried yet (although mine is written and almost ready to go) so keep this all in mind with my suggestions! I have taken a couple of query letter workshops (through writer's digest) and one key point was that shorter=better. And only list credentials that are absolutely specific to what you're submitting... Here's how I would rework the (very interesting) material you posted:

***********

Peter is the oldest son of a hard-working farmer. What he doesn’t know is that his father is really the Keeper, leader of an ancient city and holder of a mystic key. When the key begins to speak to Peter, he is forced to leave his home and become the new Keeper. He’s thrown into a world of secrecy, betrayal, and danger, and he learns quickly to fight for himself and those he loves.
But the key has its own agenda. It’s waging a war, I would add just a little bit more detail here. What is the war about? and Peter has been chosen to lead the survivors.

Keeper of the Key, my young adult adventure fantasy novel, is complete at 58,000 words. I will gladly send you either the first three chapters of this story, or the complete manuscript. I have enclosed a synopsis and a SASE for your reply. If you prefer, you can send an e-mail. Thanks very much for your time and consideration.

Best wishes,

Sara McClung ♥ said...

oh and I missed a paragraph break before "But the key has its own agenda..." I'd keep the break as it was in the original! It just didn't show up in my comment!

LMJ said...

Sounds like a good story. I was just curious on how Peter ended up being the new Keeper since it was not specified. I have nothing else to offer because I'm not a pro and don't have a finished novel or anything. I'm into sci/fi and fantasy reading, and it sounds like a series I'd probably read. =) Good luck to the hubby!!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Good example, Sara. I think we'll reformat based on that.

So you guys don't think a degree in history is a credential?

Jordan said...

If it were historial fiction (or especially nonfiction), then yes, it might be a credential. Otherwise, no, it's irrelevant.

Sara McClung ♥ said...

Hey glad you liked it :-)

I don't think the degree in history is a credential (not to downplay the fact that it's an awesome accomplishment though!) but from what I understand, unless it specifically has to do with a writing career it should be left out. (And even some things having to do with writing careers apparently should be left out as well! Like local writing groups, or anything not on a national level, etc.)

I have NO idea if this helps, but this is a blog post I wrote about the writer's digest workshop that I took: http://babblingflow.blogspot.com/2009/11/got-query-queries.html

And also, Nathan Bransford's blog has a lot of great query info: (look for a section of links on the left called "The Essentials (Please Read Before You Query)")
http://blog.nathanbransford.com/

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

great links, Sara.

One thing I've noticed when researching queries (and I've done this before, since I queried for Perilous) is that each agent has different things they think are relevant for a query. That's why we'll research each one individually, and if they have a blog, like Nathan, it's that much easier.

Aaron and Emily said...

well now I am excited to read his book.

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