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Query me this, query me that

July 27, 2014

Happy Saturday everyone! Soooooo I mentioned last post that I was going to spend my Sunday on agents and queries and I did! Huzzah!

To start, I went back. I had written an initial query letter based on the example in my copy of the 2014 Writer’s Market, and I sent this draft to four friends: the Invisible Ninja Cat, Charlotte Blackwood, Cesar, and my novel exchange partner. I chose these four because I wanted a gradient. INC knows the novel really well, but doesn’t know much about query letters. Charlotte sort of knows the novel and knows more about queries from her own research. Cesar knows the basics of the novel but hasn’t read a word, but he works in academic publishing and has sent out queries himself. My novel exchange partner, the superstar, has read and edited my novel, and she’s sending out her own queries—she’s an all in one deal!

The response was a bit mixed. INC had a lot of very helpful edits, all of which strangely matched to what an agent would say about it (maybe she was a literary agent in a former life?). Charlotte thought it was pretty good, and Cesar hasn’t responded because I sent it to the wrong email account, was confused when I didn’t hear back, realized my mistake, and re-sent it, and now he’s traveling about and too busy.

My novel exchange partner, however, blew me out of the water. She said it was pretty good, but the formatting was very different from her research suggested was acceptable. She pointed me to these REALLY AWESOME WEBSITES. First, AQ Connect’s Examples of Successful Queries, which is a forum where people post the queries that actually land them a contract. AQ Connect in general is very good as well: the forum-chat format allows you to post your query for community critique. From what I could see, the community’s number of wonderful, helpful suggestions and edits outnumber the off-the-wall ones.

But the one I love the most is QueryShark. QueryShark is an agent herself, and she allows authors to submit drafts of their queries to her. She then posts them on her blog with critique, which the other blog readers can learn from. It’s fantastic. She requires an author read through her entire blog archive before submitting a query for her to edit though, and there’s posts dating back to 2004. I’m on February 2012 and I’m editing my query as a go. It’s been brilliant. I don’t know if I’ll ever submit my query to the Shark, but I do plan to read the whole blog, incorporating any applicable suggestions as I go.

Right now, I’m most worried that it’s too wordy, that the agent won’t care about the characters, and the stakes aren’t set high enough. Big things, but I’m confident it’ll come together.

Here’s my query so far:

Dear [Agent Name],

It’s 891 A.D. in medieval Ireland, and monks Dubslaine, Maclinmun, and Macbeth are each others’ whole world, besides the monastic structure that guides their lives. But when circumstances and psychopaths force them to leave their communal life of faith and embrace exile in Anglo-Saxon Britain, that world is rocked to its very foundations.

For it is outside of the monastery’s known—if not safe—walls that the monks must face themselves and the final consequences of their choices. Britain is a land studded with a terrifying mx of beauty and horror, home to a wise King and ruthless Vikings and casual decapitation. Trouble springs from within and without: Maclinmun finds himself increasingly drawn to the secular life of a family; Macbeth grapples with what it means to love in a kingdom that only understands violence; Dubslaine, plagued with psychic visions since his birth, struggles to keep himself and his friends together and sane.

Meticulously researched, THE BOUND CHRONICLES: THE CHRISTENING is a 75,000 word, emotionally complex historical fiction, with a touch of the psychic supernatural. After looking over your [profile, website, listing etc], I’m hoping this book will perk your interest.

My poetry has been published in academic literary magazines (out of print), and this is my first novel. It could be set as a stand-alone, or continued as far as six books.

[Mention if anything’s enclosed]

Thank you for your time and consideration

 

Sincerely,

 

Natalie Cannon

[My Contact Info]

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One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Charlotte Blackwood and commented:
    Here’s a lovely post from our beloved Natalie Cannon!!!

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