Query Letter Help

Hope you all had a merry christmas full of reading, writing, and relaxing.

Now, I know that you must feel REALLY BAD that you didn’t get me a present… right?  *nervous laughter*  Well, now’s your chance to give me one.

You’ve heard me rage about writing a query letter, so I think it’s time you got to read mine.  And your christmas present to me will be a shiny new critique of it!

Hopefully.

Seriously, I’m dying for some more feedback.  Sentence structure, word choice, does it make sense, general advice…  And look, it won’t even cost you a cent.

Thanks in advance, and I’ll see you all next year!


 Dear _______,

 

I am writing to you because  __________________.

 

One thing sets Star apart from the other orphans: hope.  It comes from her only keepsake, a worn journal that once belonged to her mother.  Inside the faded pages are stories and secrets of the life of a Defender – someone who is a messenger between the kingdoms, an ambassador to the different races, and a keeper of the peace.

Ever since she could remember, Star’s dreamed of following in her mother’s footsteps and joining the secret Society of Defenders.  At sixteen, she finally meets some people who might be able to help her escape her hometown and find the Society.  But it means trusting her life to two complete strangers, and they’re full of secrets too.

Soon Star learns the real identity of these two: they themselves are Defenders, and they’re on a mission to find a magic Item that will greatly aid the Society in an upcoming war.  She helps them find the Item and they agree to take her to the Society.  Little does she know, getting to the Defender’s City won’t be easy, and training to be a Defender will be nothing like she’s imagined.  Just as she finds the title of “Defender” within her grasp, she realizes the society she’s put her hope in all these years is corrupt, crumbling, and preparing to end the peace it claimed to stand for.  Star and her new-found friends will have to turn their backs on everything they know and love to save everything they believe in.

THE SOUND OF COLOR is a young adult, high-fantasy novel complete at 68,000 words.

 

Thank you for your consideration.

If you’d prefer to leave your feedback in the CC forums instead of the comments, here’s the link to the forum where I have it posted.  (Must have a Critique Circle account to access.)

Also, if you leave a comment/ critique of it, you will get prizes!  Prizes such as views on your blog, returning the favor of critiquing your query letter, and – get this – my undying gratitude.  😉

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The Six Stages of Writing a Query Letter

At first I thought about writing an in-depth explanation of what makes a good query letter.  But I soon realized that this was a terrible idea because 1) it would be exceptionally boring, 2) all of that info is already on the web about a million times over, and 3) I am not an expert at all, so why should I tell you how to do it?

Instead, here’s the process, the steps of writing a query letter.

Step One – Panic. 

Spend at least a week procrastinating everything related to querying and agents out of sheer fear and trepidation.  Writing a query letter is [hopefully] that first baby step into the world of being published, so the thought of starting is… well, scary.

Step Two – Research.  Like Crazy. 

Google.  A lot.  Read about twenty different articles telling you “how to” and “how not to” write a query letter.  What to include and leave out.  What to say and how to say it.  Next, read some sample queries, get a feel for the flavor and tone of them.  This step usually leads to a bit more panic, but that’s normal.

Step Three – Write the Darn Thing.

Take a deep breath, and bleed onto the page.  Not literally.  But it feels a bit like death, trying to condense a 68,000-word novel (that contains a piece of your soul) into an 200-word query.  Once it’s finally done, and you’ve eaten too much chocolate and shed some tears (again, not literally), then you are ready to share it.  But not with agents yet.  Oh no.

Step Four – Get it Critiqued.

This is why I love Critique Circle — there is a forum dedicated to query- and synopsis- critquing.  So, you finally get up the courage to post your freshly-written query onto the forum, and then you nervously await responses.  Emphasis on the nervous part.  If you’re not part of CC, you [hopefully] get it critiqued by other people elsewhere.  Your friends, parents, writer buddies, that lady who works at your college writing center… you get the idea.

Step Five – Re-write it.

You asked them to tear it to pieces, and they did.  So you go back to the drawing board — er, keyboard — and totally start over.  You see it improve, and it’s better, and oh look it’s actually not horrible now.

Repeat Steps Four and Five Indefinitely.  In the meantime, continue to research query letters, and also give critiques of other people’s queries!  It’s a sure way to help you get better at writing your own.

Step Six – Send it Out.

That list of agents you’ve piled up?  Start submitting.

And then turn on Netflix, have a Lord of the Rings marathon, watch all of Classic Doctor Who, or, uh, start editing your next novel, because there’s a long wait after step six.  A long wait with a lot of tears (actual tears are possible with this stage), and usually lots and lots of rejection.  But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel!  A long, dark, smelly tunnel dripping with water, but a bright light at the end.  In the meantime, you’re writing the next novel, dreaming the next dream, furiously typing away at your keyboard, pouring your soul into another story.  Because you’re a writer, and that’s what you do.

Let me know in the comments what your experience is with query letters.  Or your thoughts on the new Star Wars movie.  Or on Classic Doctor Who.  Or whatever.