Sun Versus Snow Query Practice

heatcoldmiser

For those of us that participated in #pitchMAS, a few days before the contest took off on twitter, a post opened to give people a chance to work out their pitches and get feedback from others. Now, Sun Versus Snow is around the corner, I thought there’s no time like the present to get these queries perfectly polished.

Feel free to paste your query in the comments below. Limit it to only your query and if there is interest, I can always open another post for everyone to post their first 250 words.

Author Signature

Comments

  1. Hi:
    This is my new query. I’ll appreciate any feedback to improve it or advices, or whatever… a critique… whatever you want!
    Query:

    An heirloom her mother once stole gives Kyra Marin the adventure she never wanted to have. Conspirator creatures coming after her to change their stories with her blood, force Kyra to ally Mackenzie, a childish teen with a death wish.

    After being taken to a world of ink, facing the witch within herself will be just one of the many secrets from a story Kyra knows nothing about… her own.

    In a world where witches are evil, one of their kin will surpass them all. Choosing between being sacrificed or surrender to set Mackenzie free, this girl with the power to control every book in the world will rely on the fairy tales she despises so much.

    The Book Whisperer tells the story of a common girl who discovers the painful truth of being made by ink, while features a retelling of Peter Pan. Nothing better than his childish soul to break a witch’s heart of stone.

    N.I. Rojas

    • If this is just for Sun vs. Snow, the format can work. Usually, though, there would also be a word count, the genre, and a brief bio. A query is typically signed off with “Thank you for your time and consideration.”

      The first paragraph works as a hook. However, after that, give a brief summary of the plot. It seems like you’re talking mostly about the themes, but I don’t really know what happens. You mention a retelling of Peter Pan in the conclusion, but there’s nothing in the above paragraphs that hints at that. What can you tell me about the main character and her journey to make me want to pick up this book?

      Also, proofread it again. “being scarified” and “surrender” should be in the same tense. “While features” is incorrect.

  2. Hope I’m not too late to join the party… I’ll go right out there and say it- I love to write but I suck at selling my own work so I could use critiques like this!!

    Here we go. Don’t hold back, I went to music school where critiques were harsh:

    Dear Agent,

    Ebony Havenworth only pretends to be an assassin. She will cast a few spells and move on to the next adventure. She doesn’t want to kill anyone. Unfortunately for her, the Fae don’t play pretend, and she may not have a choice. For your consideration, a 90,000 word YA fantasy. The first book in a planned trilogy, RAGNOR’S BANE is set in a medieval-like world but written with modern sensibilities and dialogue. Ebony joins two handsome young men as they assist in bringing down a tyrannical Fae king. Her hometown is frozen in time by the king’s orders and she has no choice but to travel with them in the hopes of breaking the spell. Alex and Nyal admit to having a long-standing secret – one that helps allay her prejudices against the race of the Fae.

    She struggles with her magic, which is stronger than most, and it causes many to believe her to be a heroine of legend. The God of Death sends ancient horrors to chase after her and her friends.

    But to Ebony, they are just Ragnor’s Bane! A decoy mission of teen assassins while the real Rebels do the fighting. Problem is, the Rebels never show up. She learns she has been lied to by those she trusted. Ebony grows from a naive young village girl to a strong, powerful Witch in her own right, but she will have to choose between the seductive power of the Dark, or the hard way out – fighting the King by herself to save her friends and her home.

    Though unpublished thus far, I have just been accepted as an intern in the Editing Department at the Philadelphia Art Museum. I write a flash fiction blog and I have had my writing featured twice on the Word Count Podcast held by fantasy author R.B. Wood.

    This story is currently in submission to other agents at this time.

    Thank you so much for taking the time to review my query.

    • Hi,

      I feel like the summary jumps around a little. Are the teen assassins a necessary part of the main plot? Is it necessary to talk about the rebels if they’re not there? It just feels choppy.

      I would pull out the sentences about the word count/genre and put them at the end of the plot outline, before the bio. It’s a little jarring to go from telling the story to talking about the book and back. The first three sentences work as a hook if you take out the rest of the paragraph (or move it). Everything after “sensibilities and dialogue” could then be combined with the second paragraph. That might help it flow better.

      • Hmmm definitely not describing it well then. The teen assassins = the main character and her two guy friends. They agree to go only because there is no danger to them if the Rebels show up – but when they don’t, that means the teens are thrown into danger, including Ebony.

        Great point on the placement of word count/genre.

        I’m reading some current YA book jackets to see if that will help me write a better query.

        Thank you, Laura! let me revamp it.

        • OKAY I actually ended up changing even the hook to look a little more like some other queries/book innards I admire greatly. If you liked the old hook better, let me know. Does it still jump around too much?

          Dear Agent,

          Ebony Havenworth was only pretending to be an assassin. She never wanted to kill anyone. She wanted to leave the stifling confines of her town with its girls who only dreamt of marriage and the bullies who told Ebony she was strange. Become a proper bard. Flirt.

          But her hometown is put under a Dark spell by the tyrant Fae King, and the only hope of saving it is to stop him.

          Ebony is drawn into a plan. She will become a false assassin beside a sword-carrying tailor and a sullen wizard. Two teenagers that will help her draw the King’s attention away from the real rebels behind the scenes. If she can stop the boys from trying to kill each other, they might just carry off the farce.

          Ebony plans to cast a few spells – even though she was forbidden long ago from ever performing magic again. Lift the curse on her home, then move on.

          The problem is, the Fae don’t play pretend.

          And they know more about Ebony than she knows about herself. An old legend will force her to choose between the seductive draw of the Dark, and the harder path of the Light. What she decides will change everything.

          RAGNOR’S BANE is a 90,000 word YA fantasy set in a medieval world but written with more modern sensibilities and dialogue. The book is the first in a planned trilogy detailing her rise to fame, her sometimes misguided experiences with love, and her struggle to stay away from Dark powers herself.

          This story is in submission to other agents at this time. I am unpublished. I am starting as an intern in the Editing department of the Philadelphia Art Museum in two weeks. I write a flash fiction blog and have been previously featured twice on fantasy author R.B. Wood’s THE WORD COUNT PODCAST.

          Thank you for your time and consideration,
          Julia Mae Staley @juliamaestaley

          • I think the plot is a LOT more clear in this one. I’m not sure if you need the fourth paragraph. And think about combining the fifth and sixth paragraphs.

            Usually, you don’t need to say that the work is on submission with other agents unless the agent specifically requires it (some do). Most assume that you’re shopping it around. There’s also no need to mention that you’re unpublished – it only would make a difference if you were published, with a lot of sales.

  3. Thanks for hosting this on your blog. Here’s mine!

    Dear Agent,

    Born a Demon Charmer, fifteen-year-old Kin has the ability to speak to yokai, monsters who plague the land. Even though she uses her ability for good, it doesn’t undo her secret shame. The people of Kyo have long feared Demon Charmers, after the last one defied the Emperor and chose to side with a dragon. Her own birth parents abandoned her in fear. It isn’t until Kin finds a home with Yugao, the girl sent from the Moon, that she feels part of a family.

    The Moon returns on Yugao’s seventeenth birthday and tells Kin she has one year left with her sister. Yugao is the first person who loved Kin for who she is despite the risks. Kin can’t bear the thought of losing Yugao, but her sister doesn’t see another choice.

    Against her sister’s wishes, Kin travels to the tallest mountain in the land to convince the Moon that Yugao should determine her own fate. First, she must face Oni Forest, the yokai’s dwelling place surrounding the mountain. There, Kin must accept her own fate as a Demon Charmer–or lose her sister forever.

    Complete at 82,000 words, KIN is a fantasy novel inspired by Japanese folklore, as well as my travels to Kyoto and Tokyo. It will appeal to fans who admire a sister’s sacrifice in DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier and the coming into one’s power in Cindy Pon’s SILVER PHOENIX. I have a B.A. in English, specializing in Creative Writing, from Minnesota State University Moorhead. I’m an active member of SCBWI.

    Thank you for your time.

  4. Okay, I completely scratched everything I had before! Here’s to hoping the third time is a charm! Thanks for all your feedback! This has helped me tremendously!!!

    Dear Agent:

    Terran never knew she was anything special. In fact, she was as ordinary as they came. She had a house and a dog, a longtime job as a horticulturalist, and two meddling best friends. She never knew demigods existed, or that you could journey to other realms, manipulate nature with your mind, or that the dead weren’t really gone at all, but instead lived in the Underworld. No, she was just an ordinary twenty-seven-year-old woman…until she met the man who was supposed to stay hidden, Aiden.

    When Terran is conned by her well-intentioned best friend into meeting the gorgeous new local art gallery owner, Aiden, an ancient Egyptian prophecy is triggered, transforming what was once an ordinary woman into the prophesied Protector of the Veil, the only thing separating the land of the living from the land of the dead.

    When the god of Chaos is hot on her heels, seeking the ultimate destruction of ripping the Veil and unleashing a vile group of creatures determined to destroy both realms, Terran must work with Aiden and dive into a world she never knew existed, embracing her birthright to protect the Veil, even if that means giving her life to do it.

    Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy is an Urban Fantasy complete at 71,000 words and will gain the attention of lovers of the Fever Series by Karen Moning.

    Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,

    Sasha Abernathy

    • CC Dowling says:

      Okay, this is the second query I’m writing for you since the last one got sucked into the vortex of the blog-void. (Translation: it was better the first time, but that is lost forever…)

      This is just my suggestion. Enjoy:

      Terran never thought she was special. Ordinary is what she does best—house, job, dog, and two best friends that always try to fix her up with the most eligible bachelor this side of [location]. (Where does this take place?) When they convince her to meet Aidan, the gorgeous local art gallery owner, an ancient Egyptian prophecy is fulfilled, turning Terran into the Protector of the Veil.

      Everything Terran thought she knew about her ordinary world is changed. Demigods exist. Portholes into other realms are right in her back yard. And the dead aren’t really gone, but are separated from the living by nothing more than a thin veil…a veil Terran is responsible for keeping intact.

      (You might even consider naming the reason the god wants to destroy the realms)The God of Chaos seeks the destruction of both the realm of the living and the dead by releasing [name of creature], [description of creatures/what they do/want](why does releasing them destroy both realms?) Chased by a god who wants to destroy the veil, Terran must dive into a world she never knew existed and embrace her birthright…or lose Aidan and her life in the process.

      CHASING THE SUN: AN EARTH RELIC PROPHESY is an adult urban fantasy complete at 71,000 words. Fans of the Fever Series by Karen Moning will enjoy CHASING THE SUN.

      Thank you for your time and consideration.

      • Thanks for the tips. I noticed while reading your rewrite, that I got the wrong point across. Aiden was a date, but he is also part of the prophecy. So I’ve added a few words to clear that up! Thanks for your help!

  5. Okay, Here’s my query. I’ve been revising it for the past couple of days, and I figure it’s time for some outside feedback. Be brutally honest.

    Dear [AGENT],

    Eighteen-year-old Bram has always wanted to leave home—but not like this, not forced on the run for murdering Patrick, his brother’s new best friend. It was an accident. He swears. Neither he nor his sixteen-year-old bother, Luke, are entirely sure what happened that night, but they know Patrick is dead and it’s their fault—so they run.

    On the road, Bram and Luke quickly run low on money, food, and patience. They are about ready to give up when they find Gabriel Fiore’s World Famous Carnival Roadshow. Even though carnivals freak the crap out of Bram, what other choice do they have? Magic-loving Luke is having the time of his life, training as an assistant to Fiore, the carnival’s hypnotist and magician. On the surface, everything seems perfect, but when Bram notices the ghostly figures hiding behind tent flaps, he realizes that Fiore’s magic might not be just illusions. Back home, Quinton, Patrick’s unhinged older brother, fresh out of the Marines, starts trailing them, intent on getting his own justice.

    Life at the carnival isn’t all fun and games. As Fiore and Luke become inseparable, Bram sees his brother slipping away—his memories fading, quickly losing touch with who he is. Certain that Fiore’s dark magic is at play, Bram wants to run, taking Luke with him. But before they can, Fiore snaps, willing to do anything to keep Luke at the carnival—even if that means getting rid of Bram. With two madmen after them, Luke and Bram may end up paying for Patrick’s life with their own.

    WANDERER is a gritty, 69,000-word contemporary coming-of-age, young adult novel with elements of magical realism in a story of the power of familial love—both good and bad—sure to appeal to fans of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes and Andrew Smith.

    [BIO]

    Thank you for your consideration. The complete manuscript is available upon your request.

    • Sidney T. Blake says:

      Hi Anne,

      Like the premise! And I love how Bram is freaked out by carnivals! Well done.

      Bram is a great main character name.

      Here’s where I’d tighten your query. Since I can’t go in an edit (which I prefer doing) I’ll just retype most of it. Hope that’s okay. And remember my opinion is worth what you paid for it. 🙂 Toss anything unhelpful out the window.

      18 yr old Bram dreamed of the day he finally left home. However, sneaking out with his brother Luke at 2 am to live life on the run wasn’t how he imagined it. How Patrick died that night remains a mystery, but nightly he prays it was an accident. (Not saying this is beautifully written…but just showing how you can condense it and add a bit of Bram to it. He’s 18. Leaving home was going to happen soon…but he hadn’t imagined this. And it’s not important to say Patrick was his brother’s new best friend.)

      After ten days (let us know how long) Bram and Luke dwindle their money and food supply. Patience low, they debate surrendering until they happen upon Gabriel Fiore’s World Famous Carnival Roadshow. Even though carnivals freak the crap out of Bram, no other option exists. (I’m not a fan of the question technique.) Magic-loving Luke embraces training as an assistant to Fiore, the carnival’s (blue-eyed…cross-eyed- devil-eyed, mohawk haired, bald–what?) give some sort of characteristic of Fiore that freaks Bram out) hypnotist and magician. (On the surface, everything seems perfect–this is too vague. Be specific. At first Bram thought the carnival people seemed nice?? what?)

      Remove “Just” from just illusions. Just say illusions.

      Back home, Patrick’s brother, Quinton, returns home from Boot Camp (?), Afghanistan (?) (Be specific–has the guy seen action or ready to show it?) hellbent/intent on reaping justice.

      In the last bit you say: With two madmen after them. Who is them? You should mention that Luke realizes what’s going on and now Fiore wants Luke dead too? Because that part is unclear.

      Good luck with this!

      sid

    • Overall, I like this concept.

      I think it seems a bit jarring to go from talking about the carnival to Patrick’s brother in one sentence – and back to the carnival in the next. Is it possible to condense all of the discussion about the carnival, put it in one paragraph, and then say something like “Meanwhile, Patrick’s unhinged brother… With two madmen…”? I think it would flow better.

  6. Okay, so here’s my query. I figured I might as well throw mine into the mix since everyone is getting such amazing feedback! Thanks in advance to everyone that reads this.

    TITLE: THE ELDER RACE
    GENRE: YA URBAN FANTASY
    WORD COUNT: 85,000

    Dear Agent:

    Seventeen-year-old Carri Helms is not the first person the Goetia, a legion of Fallen Angels and demons, has attacked. But she is the first mortal to survive.

    After walking away from a car accident the Goetia orchestrated to kill her, Carri discovers she is one of four prophesized to have the ability to open Heaven’s gates. More interested in graduating from her posh Trinity Academy prep school than fulfilling an ancient prophecy, Carri tries to pretend as if nothing happened. But as the Goetia’s primary target, everyone Carri knows and loves is in danger. When they track her to a party, Riker Irin, a Guardian Angel with a troubled past, saves her – ignoring his Commander’s orders to avoid mortal interference.

    Together, Riker and Carri travel deeper into his world where the truth about Carri’s Elder heritage is far worse than their forbidden feelings for one another. Carri is central in Hell’s plot to break back into Heaven and restore the Immortal War between those Above and the Fallen – and to guarantee her cooperation, the Goetia kidnap her sister. Now Carri and Riker must save her sister, put an end to the Goetia, and stop the War…or die trying.

    THE ELDER RACE is an 85,000 word standalone YA Urban Fantasy with series potential. Fans of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush, Hush Saga, and Lauren Kate’s Fallen Series will enjoy THE ELDER RACE.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.
    Name
    Addy
    Phone #
    Website
    Twitter

    • I’ve read this a few times, and I can really only make a couple of suggestions. But it’s all editing, which is a matter of preference.
      1. The name of the school doesn’t seem to add anything.
      2. Is it necessary to say that she’s one of only four that the prophecy is about? Since the other three aren’t mentioned in the query, it seems like you could just say that she is prophesied…
      3. In the first sentence of the second paragraph, you don’t need “the Goetia.”

      Overall, it’s a really good query.

      • Excellent points Laura, thank you for the feedback! I never really thought about taking the name of the school out or not mentioning that she was simply prophecized and leave out the other 3. You don’t think if I took out “the Goetia” from P2 and said …car accident orchestrated to kill her… the agent wouldn’t ask well who orchestrated it?

        • I thought it was implied since you said that she survived a Goetia attack in the first sentence. But I guess it’s possible that not everyone would read it that way. I wonder what other people think?

          • I agree with Laura’s first 2 points. I’d leave the Goetia in there for the second paragraph.

          • I’m going to take out the points you agree with CC and leave in the Goetia for now. It really does tighten the query up and frees up a few extra words. I’m curious to see what other feedback will say. Thanks ladies!

        • I actually like the Geotia in there. It is implied by the first sentence, but not having it there could leave a person to wonder and stop the flow of the reader.

          • Thanks Sasha! The more feedback I have on this matter the better. I did take out the name of the HS and that she is 1 of 4 prophesized. I’ll leave the Goetia in there 🙂

    • Sidney T. Blake says:

      This is really shaping up, Nat!

      I’d say rather than mentioning the ‘1 of 4’ to simply say: she discovers her ability to open Heaven’s gates

      You could just say posh prep school.

      For “is far worse than” consider maybe outweighs(?) or supersedes(?) or another better word.

      You could reconsider “Carri is central to…”: With Carri central to Hell’s plot to…they kidnap her sister to ensure she aids them? (shorter than guarantee cooperation)

      (As an aside: Do you have a twitter pitch something like that? Central to Hell’s plot to take Heaven, Carri must…? I think that’s so cool!)

      You could remove the line: everyone she knows and loves is in danger because that’s shown when the sister is kidnapped. And instead of just ‘tracking’ her to the party, maybe they tried to kill her again at the party? And that’s when Riker steps in? After another attempt to murder her at a party… ???

      Good luck with this!

      sid

      • Sidney,
        Thanks for the suggestions!
        the twitter pitch that got me the most attention was: Banned from Heaven for who she is. Wanted by Hell for what she can do. An ancient plot makes her a danger to both.
        I think I need to use the other wording too as you mentioned and try to create one.
        I made those two suggestions

        I added –> everyone she knows and loves is in danger simply b/c my CP team told me they needed to be warned that the sister was going to be involved. I didn’t have it before. They didn’t try to murder her at the party or that would would work.

        Does this sound better?

        With Carri central to Hell’s plot to break back into Heaven and restore the Immortal War between those Above and the Fallen, the Goetia kidnap Carri’s sister to guarantee her cooperation. Now Carri and Riker must come to her rescue, put an end to the Goetia, and stop the War…or die trying.

  7. Thank you in advance to everyone who comments on my query!

    Here it goes:

    When college senior Jane Lamb dies in a car crash, she’s offered a second chance at life as a Conduit—a reincarnated human, with the memories of past lives, contracted to reap souls. The pros: She gets six lifetimes to be whomever she wants. The cons: If she screws up, or reveals the truth about who she is, her soul will be destroyed.

    Now, living as seventeen year old Liv Hartley, she has everything she wants—a new school, new life, and David, a new love interest. That is, until Asher Knight, a Conduit several lifetimes Liv’s senior, steals her first assignment, landing her in hot water with her afterlife caseworker. To prove she can make it without screwing up, Liv must deliver a message to the demon who wants to claim her for his own by using the Conduit already under his control, Asher. Forced to bind her life with his, Liv discovers there’s more to Asher than his bad boy attitude and movie star looks—like the fact that his addictive touch is a drug Liv craves.

    Liv can’t shake the feel of Asher, even though she’s falling for David. He’s kind, gentle, and considerate, qualities Asher will never have. But when Liv gets her toughest assignment yet—to reap David’s soul—she must decide whether to follow through with the contract or risk losing her soul forever.

    INFINITY is a 73,000 word Paranormal NA set in modern day Fallbrook, California and is a stand-alone book with series potential. Fans of Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux Series and Amy Bartol’s Premonition Series will enjoy INFINITY.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    • You know I love it 😀

    • I really like this idea! It sounds like the kind of thing I would read.

      The only thing that really jumps out at me is that I wouldn’t use “screw up” twice in two paragraphs. “To prove she can make it” is fine in the second paragraph.

    • Sidney T. Blake says:

      Hi CC.

      Love the premise of this story! LOVE her name LAMB! Lamb to the slaughter. Excellent. And Liv–because she wants to live. 🙂

      For “or reveals the truth of who she is” I’d go for: or reveals her identity (or) her true identity.

      Saw someone mention the screw up twice.

      I got a little confused with the part below:

      To prove she can make it without screwing up, Liv must deliver a message to the demon who wants to claim her for his own by using the Conduit already under his control, Asher. Forced to bind her life with his, Liv discovers there’s more to Asher than his bad boy attitude and movie star looks—like the fact that his addictive touch is a drug Liv craves.

      Maybe: To prove she’ll succeed (or is it live?)/To live, Liv must deliver a message to the demon that’ll claim her by using the Conduit already under his control, Asher. (Why is she forced to bind her life with Asher’s?) Is that the message she gives? I’m confused.

      –like the fact he possess an addictive touch (goes without saying she craves it–we’re in her pov when describing the ‘addictive touch’.)

      Good luck with this!

      sid

      • CC Dowling says:

        Thank you so much Syd for a thorough critique! I really appreciate your suggestions. Am revising. Will re-post!

    • CC Dowling says:

      Okay, here’s the revised query:

      Greetings Agent XYZ,

      When college senior Jane Lamb dies in a car crash, she’s offered a second chance at life as a Conduit—a reincarnated human, with the memories of past lives, contracted to reap souls. The pros: She gets six lifetimes to prove she’s not a loser. The cons: If she screws up, or reveals her true identity, her soul will be destroyed.

      Now, living as seventeen year old Liv Hartley, she has everything she wants—a new school, new life, and David, a new love interest. That is, until Asher Knight, a Conduit several lifetimes Liv’s senior, steals her first assignment, landing her in hot water with her afterlife caseworker. To redeem herself, Liv must deliver an important message to Asher’s demon. When her life is threatened in the process, the demon forces Asher to bind his soul with hers to protect her. That’s when Liv discovers there’s more to Asher than his bad boy attitude and movie star looks—or the fact that his touch is a drug Liv craves.

      Liv can’t shake the feel of Asher, even though she’s falling for David. He’s kind, gentle, and considerate, qualities Asher will never have. But when Liv gets her toughest assignment yet—to reap David’s soul—she must decide whether to follow through with the contract or risk forever losing her soul…and Asher’s.

      INFINITY is a 73,000 word Paranormal NA set in modern day Fallbrook, California and is a stand-alone book with series potential. Fans of Jennifer Armentrout’s Lux Series and Amy Bartol’s Premonition Series will enjoy INFINITY.

      Thank you for your time and consideration. Per your guidelines, I’ve included…

      • When her life is threatened in the process, the demon forces Asher to bind his soul with hers to protect her. I like this line a lot CC! It gives the extra information we needed to know why they are bound to one another.

      • Sidney T. Blake says:

        CC,

        This is clean and crisp and easy to follow. Well done!

        sid

  8. I really like the Pirate story. It sounds like a fun read.

  9. Trying to decide on which query to do:
    YA historical or YA/UF.

    YA historical:

    1533-Tudor England

    Seventeen-year-old Jenny dreams of becoming a pirate. She knows the pirate’s code by heart: Never go back on your word, honor your captain, share your bounty, kill your enemy, and eat, drink, and be merry because today may be the day you die. But when the Red Lady–an infamous pirate Queen and Jenny’s long lost mother—returns for her, she realizes being on the high seas isn’t as glamorous as she thought it would be. The food is awful, the crew reeks, and the king wants them dead.

    Jenny’s mother plans to use a treasured brooch she stole from the king to barter pardons for herself and her crew then sail to warmer waters. She makes Jenny swear to uphold the pirate’s code if anything happens to her.When the kings’ guard captures her mother and part of the crew, Jenny must decide: Break the pirate code and let them hang or rescue them and be branded a pirate.

    YA/UF:
    Seventeen-year-old Rian is a human lightning rod. She anticipates the rush of electricity the black clouds supply when the lightning—the energy she needs—strikes. When the first lightning strike happened last year, everyone thought it was a miracle she survived. Now she keeps her addiction to the rush of electricity a dark secret. Always wanting more, needing more.

    When Rian is attacked in the woods by dark-hooded creatures, she fends them off with a fiery gift she didn’t know she possessed. A boy from school steps out of the shadows and explains that she’s a gifted member of an ancient order of witches called the Rede and her gift is exactly what the creatures are after. The boy is supposed to take her into protective custody but she refuses to go…that is until her long-missing mother appears.

    When dark wizards called the Gehu kill her family and take her protector prisoner, Rian must destroy the dark wizards before another death occurs. Rian devises a plan to go back in time in order to prevent the killings. But time is never a straight line and things are never as they seem when you mess with destiny, especially when destiny has her own plan in mind.

    • I find myself more drawn to the pirate story, but I would look at the agents who will be doing Sun vs. Snow and look to see how many appear to be open to each genre. Like, I also have two MS, but the other one is a genre that only one agent represents . . . and I’ve already queried her. If it’s the same, look at the agent or two you most want to work with – and if it’s still a toss up, go with the pirate story.

    • Kathleen why wouldn’t you submit them both and double your chances of putting your work in front of an agent? Is there a stipulation that you only get to post one?

    • Sidney T. Blake says:

      Kathleen, can you not sub both?

      But I’m a dying to read about Rian!

      sid

  10. Hope we can re-post after we rework things?
    Well I reworked my query based on the great feedback I got on here! And here it is:

    Twenty-three-year-old Sophia Hudson has spent her whole life wishing for love. All she has to show for it is a pile of supermarket magazines describing exciting celebrity romances, and several gossip websites at the ready. Then her bushy afro walks into Dr. Matthew Brooks’ anthropology class. Sophia finds herself drawn to the professor/sometimes poet, and is surprised when the worldly man lets it slip that he is interested in her too.

    Wounded by the past, Sophia’s quick to place all her idyllic sunflower filled hopes, and dreams onto Matthew. When the two start the relationship she’s been yearning for, she soon discoverers there is more to him than pretty words, and the ability to command a classroom. The man she’s built up in her head doesn’t exist, and in real life there’s no room for sunflowers.

    Secrets surround the real Matthew Brooks. Polygamy, lust, violence, control.
    Matthew attempts to mold Sophia into his vision of the ‘ideal third wife’. She gingerly places a shaking hand on her bruised skin, fear dancing in her mind. But for some odd reason love still in her heart. Sophia’s first relationship becomes a test in her being strong enough to find, and assert herself while escaping from Matthew without him destroying her life.

    Power of the Podium is an Adult Thriller around 60,000 words.

    • LOVE paragraphs 1 & 2. Feels to me like you’ve nailed the essence of your story.

      So, p3, what about:

      …ideal third wife. Battered and afraid, Sophia must overcome the misguided love she has for Matthew before he destroys her life.

      IMO, the way you have it worded now reads awkward and doesn’t match the crisp writing the rest of the query has.

      Just something to play around with.

    • Definitely repost after you work things out 🙂

  11. Jason Temple says:

    Dear Agent,

    When high school started Steve was lost; clinging to books and grades, he committed social suicide. Without cheerleaders Kate and Amaya, Steve would be alone. He covets the time he gets to spend with his only two friends; always afraid they’ll leave him like everyone else did. Not only would Steve be alone then, he would also lose the only two people he’d ever loved.

    Amaya feels a lot more than friendship for Kate, even if she only just realized it. She’s only ever had feelings this strong for Steve, and that had been back in grade 8. Their kiss had been amazing, but Kate had convinced her not to risk their friendship. Tired of dating a string of random guys to placate the gods of popularity, she decides it’s time to tell Kate how she feels about her.

    Kate hates being popular, but knows what being unpopular is like from watching Steve’s struggles. Hearing the popular kids giggle when she talked to Steve was bad enough, but if they knew how her heart raced when Amaya stared at her, her social standing would be forfeit. Desperate to put things back to the way they were before high school Kate invites Steve and Amaya to her party. Their pursuit of Kate only makes it more obvious that they still have feelings for each other too.

    A single admission of love could easily destroy the friendship they all share.

    JUST BETWEEN FRIENDS is a 50000 word YA-Contemporary Romance.

    Thank you for your time.

    • I really like this idea for a story, but I’m a little confused by your query. Does Steve have feelings for Amaya, too? If so, why is he pursuing Kate at the party? I guess it’s just not entirely clear whether this is a love triangle (square?) or if it’s two scared teenage girls hiding their mutual feelings.

    • I really like this idea too! But the query seems unclear in places I’m getting people mixed up with each other, and its confusing. Maybe you could make it clearer somehow? Thats really my only big problem with it. Other wise great concept! 🙂

    • Jason Temple says:

      hmmm… I’ll see what i can do to clear it up some more. Yes there is a love triangle, there is a fourth and actually a fifth involved but for simplicity sake they aren’t part of this query and have a side story of their own as well…

  12. This sounds like a really neat concept. The only thing that made me stop and think instead of reading seamlessly was the paragraph where your introduce Jamie. Maybe instead of saying Jamie found the 3, maybe say the 3 were found by Jamie and introduce him that way? Since there are a lot of characters and then add then 2 political groups, it just made me stop and look back to see if he was already introduced.

    • Stephanie says:

      Thank you for the response! I’ve also noted all of this down so I can rework first thing in the morning. I was torn over the Jamie paragraph and the flow, so it’s good to know I’m right and that that needs reworking.

      Thank you!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Thank you for the opportunity! I would absolutely love some pointers in regards to my query!

    To Agent X,

    It’s been ten days since Rye, Lily and Tamara found the weird cottage in the forest. Two days before that, they found themselves lost in Guardia.

    The world they thought would be an escape from the drama of high school has become their biggest nightmare. Hunted by the monstrous Valroc, our heroes soon find themselves in the worst kind of trouble when they stumble into the divided city of Lierwick.

    Because, let’s face it, we’d all rather face a blood-thirsty monster than a political debate.

    When the mysterious assassin, Cheeva, reveals that they’re part of a prophecy that will see the end to the war between magic and technology, our heroes are obviously skeptical. But as they’re drawn further and further into conflict between the magic-hating Raggedite and the technophile Royalists, the coincidences are hard to deny. And when your only ally is a debauched Knight who has run up debts in every bar in town, a heroic prophecy starts to look appealing.

    But what if Cheeva is lying?

    Painted as a genocidal monster by the Royalists, Jamie Troschke desperately fights to bring about a social and industrial revolution that could save his people from the tyranny of the Royalists and their magic. When he discovers that three teens have appeared without a drop of magic in their bones, this could be his chance to change the tide of war and the very foundations of the Guardi beliefs.

    As the Raggedite, led by Troschke, advance on Lierwick in all their technological glory, Rye, Lily and Tamara must decide who to champion in a war that could see them divided forever.

    THE DIARIES OF GUARDIA: FIGHT OR FLIGHT is the first in a compelling Steampunk-fantasy series for young adults, told in multiple POVs. It is complete at 110,000 words and the full manuscript is available on request. Synopses for all subsequent books in the series are also available. Thank you for showing interest in my PitchMAS pitch. Please find the requested three chapter sample below.

    Thank you,

    [Name, contact details, etc]

    • Sorry, I meant to reply to this earlier, but my computer ate it. I think this sounds really interesting.

      We’ve mentioned this elsewhere, but agents don’t want to see things like “the full is available on request.” They’re assuming that, if you’re sending a query, you have a full manuscript and you’re willing to send it to them. I’ve also read that it’s better not to say that you’re pitching a series. Maybe look at some of the other queries where they mention that the book could start a series, but also works on its own?

      I agree with the comments about the names – honestly, I would just go back and take out most of them. Some agents don’t like to spend too much time trying to figure out who everyone is in a query. You could probably leave out the names of Troschke and Cheeva. You could probably also just called Lierwick “the capital city” (assuming that’s what it is). Also, I’m not sure the third paragraph is needed – we don’t really need to know why they’d prefer a fantasy land over high school (it seems obvious to me), and throwing in the political debate is confusing.

      And I would delete the part about PitchMAS. 😉

      • Stephanie says:

        Thank you so much for the reply and the advice, it is seriously helpful! I’ve noted this all down so I can rework first thing in the morning (I don’t trust myself to do it right at 2am!) Just wanted to post and thank you for taking the time to help me out!

  14. crissisong says:

    ALRIGHT! I’ve been meaning to send one in, but didn’t have time because of the madness that was the holidays, but here you go:

    Title: CATALYST
    Genre: YA Fantasy
    Word Count: 75,000

    Dear Agent X,

    Lucy made the gravest mistake of her life when she was seven years old: she agreed to wed a prince in exchange for a wish. But, not just any prince. A fairy prince. Ten years later, the fays return to collect on the deal that Lucy has long-since forgotten and to take her to the Shea.

    Her arrival serves as the catalyst for the turmoil brewing within the Realm. The djinns, the fay’s enemies who have been devastated by the Great War of the past, have united under the leadership of Vaochin and Valefor, sons of their previous leader, to gain control over the Shea and its magic.

    But, the Shea holds its own dark secret. One of the servants, Donella, is not who she appears to be. She can never be a true fay, but it is for her sister’s sake that she suppresses her blood-hungry desires. She is close to becoming one of the fallens, a djinn, but not even her own sister knows the full extent of her transformation.

    Both Lucy and Donella find themselves on their own journey as they realize that the fastest way home and the only way to truly protect the ones that they love is to accept and release their own past.

    Told in alternative perspective of Lucy and Donella, CATALYST is a combination of Kristin Cashore’s GRACELING and Julie Kagawa’s THE IRON FAY series that can serve as a standalone or as the first in a series.

    I have been an avid reader of fantasy from a young age and continue to frequently spotlight fantasy novels on my book blog. I am currently pursuing degrees in English and public relations while interning under a publicist of an independent publishing house. I have also interned at various organizations, such as a bi-lingual fashion and lifestyle magazine and an entertainment news company, in their publicity and marketing department.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Christine Song
    [contact info]

    • Christine,

      I find myself really wanting to know what she wished for. I’m not saying that so you’ll add it to the letter, but because you’ve already intrigued me. I want to know more. The main thing I could offer is maybe to tighten it up a little? For example, I’m not sure the second sentence in the third paragraph is necessary. Or maybe just “have united under new leadership to gain…” in the second paragraph.

      In the fourth paragraph, since your subject is “Lucy and Donella”, make sure the whole thing is plural (journeys, pasts, etc.). If that’s too clunky, try “Lucy and Donella each find herself on her own journey…”

      Does word count need to be in the fifth paragraph, instead of stated above?

      Just my two cents.

      • Woah! Cool thank you D
        I heard that advice and I also read somewhere (I think it was query shark) that placing it up top doesn’t hurt since the agents can see it first without having to glance all the way down for it. BUt I think it depends on the person ><

    • Sidney T. Blake says:

      Christine,

      I like at 7 someone already screws up their life.

      What you’ve written is more like a summary of your story.

      I think what your query is missing is stating what Lucy wants up front and what is stopping her from getting it.

      At the age of 7 Lucy made a wish. Ten years later that wish comes true, but not in the form she expected.

      Rather than explain all the history of the war explain what is it Lucy wants. I’m assuming she doesn’t want the prince. I don’t even see him mentioned. Does she want to go back home? Does she have a love interest there she wants to get back to? Is the war the only thinking make life difficult in this new place?

      For Donella we need to know the same: what does Donella want. (To be normal? Or is she happy turning into this vampire? werewolf? what is it exactly?) Why can’t she have it? Who/what is stopping her.

      When you say ‘journey’ do you mean actual they leave together or is it more a personal journey?

      As painful as it is (and trust me I know the pain) you must be bare bones and dry to start the query and then paint it up a bit.

      Lucy is kidnapped and forced to marry this ugly old guy. (is he?) She wants to go home, but she doesn’t have the magic powers to get there. But she finds someone with magic to get to the portal, but the magic person turns into a monster at night time and tries to eat her (I’m just making up stuff here…but this is how bare bones you should write it. The same needs to be done for Donella.)

      Good luck with this!

      sid

      • COOL! Thank you 🙂 Yeah, I keep thinking that I have to give some summary of my novel in my query and I guess it just became my summary only ><

  15. Better? Revised to be more specific. Thanks for all the comments!

    Dear —–:

    They say that when you die in your dreams, you die in real life. After a freak avalanche in her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska kills her entire family, twenty-seven-year-old Terran Fitzgerald had only hoped that was true a thousand times. Luckily for her, she’s not completely alone. When best friend Micah decides that two years of sulking is enough, she schemes to get the reluctant Terran a date. When what seems like an innocent encounter between Terran and the emotionally complicated art gallery owner, Aiden, triggers an ancient prophecy, Terran soon finds herself struggling to accept her past and embrace her birthright as the key to the future of the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead: a demigod, the daughter of the god Osiris, and the long foretold child that is the Earth Relic Keeper.

    Rooted in a secret Egyptian prophecy, Terran becomes consumed with the dark and whimsical dream worlds that have become her sanctuary. As her dreams become more vivid, she soon begins questioning her sanity. Do the worlds she dreams of exist? Soon, the lines between reality and the realm of the gods become blurred, as Osiris begins sending Terran messages through her dreams, warning her of Seth, the seductive god of chaos who seeks to destroy the Earth Relic, the key to the veil between worlds, and unleash the Forgotten, a group of creatures determined to destroy the worlds that have entrapped them for centuries.

    When Seth succeeds at stealing the Earth Relic, Terran must work with the only other person impacted by the prophecy, the beautiful, but rude and moody Aiden, who seems to know more about the ancient prophecy than he chooses to reveal. Plotting to recover the Earth Relic before both worlds come to an end, will Terran and Aiden succeed in time?

    Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy is complete at 71,000 words and will gain the attention of lovers of the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, crossing genres, and bringing the best of both fantasy and romance.

    As requested, please find my synopsis and the first 10 pages of my novel pasted below. Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • crissisong says:

      I really like your first sentence! It catches the attention at once. However, I felt as though the paragraphs were a little bit too chunky (especially the first one), so maybe you can break it down into smaller paragraphs?
      To me, I was a little intimidated when I saw the huge block of text and I think I read somewhere on a query blog that most agents tend to skim past the queries with huge blocks of text because they’re in a rush and it seems like they’ll be reading more ><
      Also, I felt the line "Do the worlds she dreams of exist?" was a little bit too redundant (and it only lengthened your query word count) because the previous sentence could allude to that question.

      But, I really like the premise you're using (since everyone does Greek/Roman and not enough other cultures' myth)

      • Awesome, thanks! I completely see the “chunkiness” and the need to trim the fat. 🙂

  16. This is my queries. I have 4 PB’s and I am still unsure which one to submit. Any suggestions welcome.

    PB Query 1:

    Dear Agent,

    I would like to submit to you for consideration, my fun quirky holiday picture book which received an honorable mention for Great Kid Appeal in the 2013 Susanna Leonard Hill’s Holiday Mishap Blog Contest.

    When Mrs. Claus gives Santa a hot tub as an early Christmas present, Santa is excited. Thankfully, he has a few feisty penguins to give him a boost inside.

    But after having a jolly ole time in the tub, Santa discovers that getting out is going to be much trickier. And with no time left, it’s up to Santa’s friends at the North Pole to get creative – or it will be too late to deliver the presents in time for Christmas.

    HOT TUB SANTA is complete at 395 words.

    (My Bio)

    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,

    PB Query 2:

    Dear Agent,

    Kya is a bouncing, tumbling blur of cartwheels and flips…so her mom signs her up for gymnastics lessons and Kya brings along her partner in flips, Hilary, the Dinosaur.

    But after the class bully makes fun of Kya and hides Hilary, Kya decides to go solo in order to protect her beloved stuffed dino.

    Without Hilary, tumbling and bouncing just isn’t the same. Fed up with being bullied, Kya hatches a plan to safely bring Hilary back to the gym and discovers that a little courage, some creativity, and a lot of kindness can go a long way as she flips, tumbles, and cartwheels right into your heart.

    Dinosuars are NOT Gymnasts is complete at 642 words.

    (My Bio)
    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,

    PB Query 3:

    Dear Agent,

    I would like to submit my manuscript Shy Phoebe. It was a Top 5 finalist in the NAESP National Children’s Book Award contest this year.

    Phoebe is the quietest girl in her class. She only speaks in whispers. She never raises her hand. And she turns bright red when the teacher calls on her.

    But when her teacher assigns a project for all the kids to create on the strange habits of animals, and it just so happens that Phoebe is an expert on the subject, Phoebe has the perfect solution. She builds a fake computer out of a cardboard box which allows her to share her knowledge about animals without revealing her own identity. Surprising to Phoebe, when the questions start coming, she suddenly finds her voice and her confidence.

    Shy Phoebe is complete at 644 words and would appeal to children ages 6 –10, ‘shy or unshy’. Nonfiction questions and answers regarding animals such as ‘Do bees have knees?’ and ‘Does a catfish say meow?’ are gently woven into the story.

    (My bio.)

    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,

    PB Query 4:

    It’s Frog’s first day of school at Soggy Bottom Academy. He is already nervous, when Mrs. Owl asks each student to show something special they can do. Frog is unaware that the others are admiring his leaps. He becomes envious of Squirrel’s tail, Blue Jay’s wings, and Beaver’s huge teeth.

    After several unsuccessful attempts to be like them, it is his turn to share. On the verge of tears, his vocal sac and bulging eyes lead him to discover many special talents of his own.

    Leap Frog, Leap! is complete at 640 words for children age 4 to 8 with a theme of ‘everyone is special in their own way’. It is SHOW AND TELL meets MOSTLY MONSTERLY with a unique twist of animal facts woven in.

    (My bio.)

    Thank you for your time.
    Sincerely,

    • I WANT TO READ HOT TUB SANTA!

      I’m afraid I don’t know anything about PB, so I’m not sure if I’m much help beyond that (except I don’t think you need a comma after “consideration” in the first sentence). But, seriously, I want to read it. And I am over 30 with no children.

      • crissisong says:

        I WANT TO READ HOT TUB SANTA TOO!

      • YAY! Laura and Crissisong! It looks like HOT TUB SANTA goes to the top of my list! I hope you both get the chance to read it soon:) I just love that adults want to read it too! Thanks Laura, I will be sure to remove the comma.

    • My favorite is also the Hot Tub Santa. The only thing that was slightly confusing is the sentence structure of the 2nd paragraph in the second query. At first I thought Kya hid Hilary instead of the bully.

      • Thanks Sasha! I will definitely clear up that sentence. I appreciate you letting me know. And with 3 favorites of HOT TUB SANTA —he is the one I am going to go with. SInce there are only 2 agents that take on PB”s I hope they also want to read it.

  17. Twenty three-year-old Sophia Hudson has spent her whole life wishing for love. All she has to show for it is a pile of supermarket magazines describing exciting celebrity romances, and several gossip websites at the ready. Then her bushy afro walks into Dr. Matthew Brooks’ anthropology class. Sophia finds herself drawn to the professor/sometimes poet, and is surprised when the worldly man lets it slip through less formal emails he that he is interested in her too.
     
    Still wounded by a childhood marked by her father’s hostility, Sophia’s quick to place all her idyllic sunflower filled hopes and dreams for a perfect life onto Matthew. When the two start the relationship she’s been yearning for, she soon discoverers there is more to him than pretty words and the ability to command a classroom. The man she’s built up in her head doesn’t exist, and in real life there’s no room for sunflowers. The facade fades when he has Sophia in a relationship.
     
    The real Matthew Brooks is a man of secrets. He’s actually a polygamist, with a violent lust for control, who’s been pulling all of her strings from the start. In his attempt to mold her into his vision of the ‘ideal wife’ Matthew abuses Sophia and executes dominance over her mentally, physically, and sexually. Sophia’s first relationship becomes a test in her being strong enough to find and assert herself while escaping from Matthew without him destroying her life.
     
    Power of the Podium is an Adult Thriller around 60,000 words.

    I am a recent college graduate from Western Michigan University, having studied creative writing and sociology. I have been published in several non-fiction Science fiction anthologies including ‘Outside In: 160 New Perspectives on 160 Classic Doctor Who Stories by 160 Writers’, ‘Doctor Who and Race an Anthology’, and ‘You and Who 2’. I am currently assistant editing an upcoming anthology for Mad Norwegian Press under L.M. Myles who edited the Hugo nominated ‘Chicks Unravel Time’.

    I appreciate your consideration and look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Kind regards,

    Quiana Howard

    • I think you have the making of a very compelling story here, however, I feel like there are some issues that need to be worked out in the query.

      I feel like it’s a little too wordy. Instead of saying “Still wounded by a childhood marked by her father’s hostility” you could just say “Wounded by the past” and it would still mean the same. I think it would cut down your wordcount (which seems pretty long) by a considerable amount.

      Another thing I think could help is more showing and active narration in this. We hear that Matthew is a polygamist and abusive and awful and everything but we don’t see it. Instead of telling us, maybe use that space to talk about the bruises on her cheeks or the emotional games he plays? Depending on how he abuses her, etc. It brings more of an impact to the table.

      Lastly, I would take “Look forward to hearing from you soon” out. Agents know you look forward to hearing from them. It’s just a word waster.

      Anyway, that’s my take on your query. Hoped this helped! 🙂

    • I agree that the story sounds very interesting, but I also see a couple of issues with the query.

      First, proofread the query again. It says “Sophia discoverers” in the second paragraph, and there are some missing commas here and there. “Twenty-three” should be hyphenated. If you don’t like “twenty-three-year-old, consider, “At 23 years old, Sophia….”

      I also agree that it’s a little wordy and could be tightened up a bit. For example, I might cut “via less formal emails.” Make me wonder how he let it slip so I want to read the whole story. 🙂

      I hope that helps.

    • crissisong says:

      I agree with the above comments! You have a compelling story, but not a compelling query.
      First, your first sentence doesn’t grab the reader’s attention. It’s much too generic and (if the agent is much too busy) she’ll probably pass it over without reading more because it sounds similar to the billion romance submissions out there.
      Second, you have a great theme and a great conflict, but we don’t feel anything for your MC because (like Kodi mentioned) you’re not exactly showing how bad it is.
      Also, since you mentioned that it is a thriller, I think it will be best if you could find at least an author or two titles that your story is similar to and mention that in your query. Thrillers are like romances where it’s considered to be mainstream fiction so there’s a lot of people writing/reading/buying it and by including comparison, the agent knows that there’s a market for your book and also they get a feel about the mood of it.

      This is my take on your query and I hope it helps!

  18. Here is my query! 🙂

    Dear [agent’s last name]

    Seventeen-year-old Mihael may be the son of Wrath, the strongest demon in the Realm, but he’s never graduated the kiddie classes where the demon arts are concerned.

    As the weakest demon in hell, dodging his siblings’ curses is easy—it’s not embarrassing his father that’s hard. So when Wrath develops the perfect plan to launch the Apocalypse, create the ultimate demon, and get rid of Mihael for good, Mihael decides it’s time to run. Unless he wants to see his blood trickling down the sacrificial altar.

    Coerced into stopping the Apocalypse by Wrath’s sister, Lust, Mihael barely escapes into the human world. There, he finds things are not that easy. Valkyries watch his every move and the Order of the Angels hunts half-demons who illegally come to earth.

    With only Lust’s clues of a mysterious weapon that can stop Wrath, and an alliance with a reverend’s daughter whose psychic powers are spiraling out of control, Mihael knows he’s hopelessly outmatched. But if he wants to save the world, first he’ll have to save himself.

    HALF-BREEDS AND OTHER LIABILITIES is an 80,000 word YA Urban Fantasy that will appeal to fans of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT and younger fans of THE DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher. It is a standalone with series potential.

    An avid reader and writer, I am currently concentrating my studies on an eventual degree in theology and folklore. My research was the inspiration for this novel.

    Thank you for your time and consideration.

    Kara Barbieri
    [contact info]

    • Hi Kara,

      I’m a little confused by the opening, because it says that he’s the strongest demon in the Realm, but the weakest in hell. (I’m assuming that the Realm is not hell? But it made me pause when I was reading). Maybe just say that he’s the weakest in his family? Or clarify the first sentence? I’m also unclear on why his father is so embarrassed by him/wanting to kill him, and I think clarifying that would help.

      I would consider trying to condense the description into one or two paragraphs. Four just seems like overkill (especially since the first is only one sentence). That may just be my preference, though, so take it with a grain of salt.

      I feel like it might help to expand a bit on what inspired the novel. Something like, “This novel was inspired as I found myself simultaneously researching Greek mythology and Native American folklore.” (or whatever)

      I haven’t read White Cat or the Dresden Files, but I’m a fan of Percy Jackson and Artemis Fowl, and I think this sounds interesting.

      I hope that helps.

      • You misread the opening, I think. You’re the first person to do that. Lol. It’s saying that Mihael is the SON of the strongest demon–Wrath–and MIhael is the weakest in hell.

        Which is why it says “Mihael MAY BE the son of Wrath, the strongest demon in hell, but he’s the weakest demon, etc. etc.”

        It could also be read as “Mihael is the son of the strongest demon in hell, but he’s the weakest demon, etc. etc.”

        It’s a stylistic thing.

        Also–I could be totally wrong but aren’t you supposed to separate the hook paragraph from the rest? (I totally could be wrong, but that’s what I learned on QueryTracker…so…yeah…that’s why there’s 4 paragraphs.)

        Thanks! I’m only adding the bio to agents who specifically ask for a bio, though, since I don’t really have any credentials. So I will add that in, but yeah, I only add it when I’m specifically asked.

        • Thanks for clarifying. That makes a lot more sense. In that case, I think I would use either hell or “the Realm” throughout.

          I haven’t heard that about the hook paragraph, but most of my research has come from compiling what agents have said they’re looking for. I’ll have to check out QueryTracker. Thanks for the tip.

          • Do you think it would be better if I said “Mihael IS the son” instead of “MAY BE the son?” So there’s no confusion? And sure.

            Huh. That’s sorta the format we have on QT for queries and I’ve seen the same format on AQC (I think. Haven’t been on in a while.) Hook paragraph, then body paragraphs, etc.

            I don’t think it would lead to an agent rejecting either way, because your query is 4 paragraphs versus 3. Y’know?

            • Maybe something like “His father, Wrath, is the strongest demon in the Realm, but Mihael’s never graduated the kiddie classes…”?

              I wonder if there’s a difference in query preferences across genre. But I’d hope agents would look more at content than format.

              • Maybe…

                Probably. Who knows? I mean, I read Nathan Bransford’s Agent for a Day’s posts and it was a surprising outcome to who the real published authors were. (Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out, you should, because it really opens your eyes). The query that generated one of the least requests and was pretty sucky (not gonna lie) was a bestseller novel and got a 50-something request rate when it was sent out. Same with the other 2 hidden queries that had been published in the Agent for a Day. Nathan said that most of the Agent-for-a-dayers looked for format, etc. when looking at the query, but in honestly, agents (or at least when he was) looked beyond that and at the story beneath. So you can have stellar format with a query, but the query should also have voice, personality, story, it should make you care, etc.

                So yeah. I tend to think agents (at least some) are looking than good formatting.

            • crissisong says:

              Haha I think you should clarify it a little bit, because we have the time to read your query but the agents don’t necessarily have as much time to spend on queries as we do. So, if Laura misread it then there’s a good chance that some agents might misread it as well.

              Anyways, that’s my 2-cents 😀

              • Well, in that case, here’s my query with clarification (or I guess, changing in words?)

                Dear [agent’s last name]

                Seventeen-year-old Mihael is the son of the strongest demon in the hell, but he’s never graduated the kiddie classes where the demon arts are concerned.

                As the weakest demon in hell, dodging his siblings’ curses is easy—it’s not embarrassing his father, Wrath, that’s hard. So when Wrath develops the perfect plan to launch the Apocalypse, create the ultimate demon, and get rid of Mihael for good, Mihael decides it’s time to run. Unless he wants to see his blood trickling down the sacrificial altar.

                Coerced into stopping the Apocalypse by Wrath’s sister, Lust, Mihael barely escapes into the human world. There, he finds things not too easy. Valkyries watch his every move and the Order of the Angels hunts half-demons who illegally come to earth.

                With only Lust’s clues of a mysterious weapon that can stop Wrath, and an alliance with a reverend’s daughter whose psychic powers are spiraling out of control, Mihael knows he’s hopelessly outmatched. But if he wants to save the world, first he’ll have to save himself.

                HALF-BREEDS AND OTHER LIABILITIES is an 80,000 word YA Urban Fantasy that will appeal to fans of Holly Black’s WHITE CAT and younger fans of THE DRESDEN FILES by Jim Butcher. It is a standalone with series potential.

                Thank you for your time and consideration.
                Contact info etc. etc.

  19. Thanks for the suggestions!

  20. Dear [Agent’s name]:

    My name is _____, and I am seeking representation for my women’s fiction novel, Reality Star. I found your agency via ______. I see that you are interested in women’s fiction, which makes me think that this project might appeal to you. It is approximately 73,000 words.

    Jennifer Read’s life after college isn’t quite what she expected. Her low-paying job is uninspiring, her boyfriend won’t commit, and the future looks unexciting. One day, Jen finds an ad seeking intelligent, young adults for a new reality show. Ready for adventure, Jen moves into a house with 11 strangers to compete for a $250,000 prize. For several weeks, she performs challenges – and vies for the attention of Justin, the handsome contestant who has unfortunately also caught the eye of another competitor. As the show progresses, Jen struggles to win the ultimate prize without losing herself in the process. I have pasted the first ________________ below for your review.

    I found myself in a unique position to write this novel after two of my closest friends appeared on reality television shows in 2012-2013. Their experiences inspired the story. I am originally a lawyer, and I have published legal articles.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Very Truly Yours,

    • Laura, below are my suggestions. Your novel sounds fun and I think it’s very cool that two of your friends appeared on reality tv shows.
      Drop the my name is line. Not every agency likes the first paragraph to include the novel stats, but some do. It’s good to have a generic paragraph you can move to either the top or the bottom of the query. If it were at the top I would say: I am seeking representation for REALITY STAR, a Women’s Fiction novel complete at 73,000 words. You can personalize the next line saying you found their agency via XYZ if you want.

      Your hook doesn’t really hook me. Start off talking about her joining the reality show and how she hopes it will change her life. Your query is vague. The good news is you have lots of space to fill in, which is sometimes easier than deleting. Since you have the space and you’ve been published before, maybe provide the name of the journals.
      Delete the “I look forward…” and the “very truly yours” End with Thank you for your time and consideration. Give your name and details under that.

    • I really like this query. Personally, I think the meat of it (as to say, the summary) sounds really cool and fun. You were able to inject voice in it pretty well. I think that you should take out the first paragraph (the My name is ____ and I’m seeking representation for Reality Star) and put it at the end, because I know a lot of agents tend to like to get to the meat of the query first.

      I personally always have that line at the bottom because of what I’ve read from agent blogs and stuff unless the agent specifies in interviews that they’d like it at the top or some personalization. Otherwise, I don’t personalize either. it depends on the agent.

      I personally think if you connect the first line and the second line, it would make for a more intriguing hook.

      Otherwise, I really enjoyed this query. It sounds like an awesome novel! I’m not really a women’s fiction person (I read YA stuff and Fantasy, mostly) but if I was, I’d definitely pick it up. 🙂

  21. I’ll go first! I have no experience with queries and just learned from the good ol’ web! I format the last 3 paragraphs to fit the agents preferences. The below is one of my latest revisions. Any help would be great!

    They say that when you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Twenty-seven-year-old Terran Fitzgerald had only hoped that was true a thousand times. But luckily for Terran, she’s not completely alone. When best friend Micah decides an intervention is needed, a seemingly innocent event triggers a long-forgotten ancient prophecy, where Terran soon finds herself fighting her own demons in order to fulfill her destiny as the key to the future of the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead.

    Rooted in a secret Egyptian prophecy, Chasing the Sun: An Earth Relic Prophecy takes you through Terran’s dark and whimsical dream worlds where the lines between reality and the realm of the gods soon become blurred. Until now, Terran had no idea there was a chance of finding love again. And, as everything she ever thought she knew is challenged, Terran must continue moving forward, fated to battle in a war she never knew existed.

    My debut novel is complete at 71,000 words and will gain the attention of lovers of spunky heroines and mysterious fantasy, as Chasing the Sun crosses the genre stereotypes and combines the best of romance and fantasy.

    Since you have an interest in fantasy, I believe you may be interested in my paranormal romance/urban fantasy novel set in current day Anchorage, AK, a wondrous place in and of itself.

    I have spent all of my life telling stories, but never writing them down. At the insistence of my husband to get a hobby, and his not so subtle hint of a journal as a birthday present, I finally sat down to write and couldn’t stop. I currently have a following on Facebook where I have been steadily increasing my followers. Chasing the Sun was inspired by my years spent in Alaska and my fascination with Egyptian mythology.

    As requested, please find the first 10 pages of my novel pasted below. I am more than happy to send you the completed novel at your request. Thank you for your time and consideration and I look forward to hearing from you.

    • These are just my suggestions: Take them with a grain of salt.
      P1 thoughts:
      Remember to hook the reader. I don’t feel hooked. Did she try to commit suicide or something? Why is an intervention needed? What event are you talking about? Too vague. Don’t use long-forgotten and ancient pick one. …in order to fulfill her destiny… sounds cliche. How is she the key to the future of both lands?

      Possible suggestions for P1:
      Twenty-seven-year-old Terran Fitzgerald wishes that when she dies in her dreams, she dies in real life. or maybe try: When Twenty-seven-year-old Terran Fitzgerald finds herself a major player in an ancient prophecy and the key to the Land of the Living and the Land of the Dead, she wishes for death.

      P2:
      Do not include the title in this paragraph. You are still summarizing the story and by including the title, you’re pulling me out of the world you’re painting for me. Save this for your novel data paragraph. Don’t tell me where it’s going to take me – when you mention me as a reader in your query, you’re again pulling me out of the story. I want a summary of the plot in P2. So Terran can enter dreams? What is the realm of the Gods and what does her traveling have to do with love? This paragrah is very vague. I don’t see anything that shows me the plot. Pick one storyline and follow it through.

      P3: Don’t mention it’s your debut novel, but say: CHASING THE SUN: AN EARTH RELIC PROPHECY is complete at 71,000 words is a genre/category that takes place in modern day, Anchorage, Alaska (if you want to include this as well). Try to pick one category — or say Urban Fantasy with romantic elements. Fans of [insert comparison here] will enjoy [your title].

      Delete P4 and P5. If you haven’t published and don’t have a large following on social media, don’t include it. Simply list your websites under your name at the closing of the query.

      P6: Below you will find XYZ per your submission guidelines. You could always add this to the novel data paragraph.

      Always end with: Thank you for your time and consideration.

      Your name
      Addy
      Phone
      Social Media

    • I’m having trouble finding the link, but I read a blog post by an agent a few weeks ago that says to avoid comments like “If you want to see more….” Just assume they’ll want to see more and thank them for their time and consideration.

      • OK, I can’t find the post, but I figured out what’s bothering me about this. Overall, I think it sounds really interesting. But, in two paragraphs about the setting and the adventure, there’s one sentence about finding love again – and then you bill it as a paranormal romance/urban fantasy. The hook never mentions paranormal romance.

        I would consider omitting that sentence entirely and pitching it just an an urban fantasy. Save the paranormal romance for the full synopsis. Otherwise, at least tell us what makes the love interest paranormal.

        • Thanks! I’m actually revising it completely based on all the comments. I seemed to think vague was what I needed, but I’m adding more detail and rewording. Thanks so much!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Versus Snow is right around the corner and people have been posting their queries here for feedback. I’ve been asked to open a post for people trying to perfect their first 250 […]

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: