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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Books » Query for CORSAIRS

   
Author Topic: Query for CORSAIRS
Natej11
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Hey everyone. Here's my query for my YA novel. I'm still relatively inexperienced with this so I'd appreciate any feedback you could offer.

quote:
Those in charge usually look down on their subjects. For the Corsairs who rule the Protectorate from their airships and skyholds that couldn't be more literal.

Not that Kale knows anything about that. Orphaned at a young age, he's spent his life in a place where children only wish they were forgotten. Even those on the ground look down on him, and all Kale knows of the sky is what he's heard in rumors and stories, and his one exciting memory of seeing an airship high up and far away, a speck of white in a blue sky.

When a Corsair named Tartarus, sent from the nearby skyhold, comes to the orphanage in the night and offers to take Kale away to the sky, the offer seems too good to be true. A new life, a chance to work on the airships as a part of a family with all the other Corsairs as brothers and sisters, making profitable voyages and exploring the world. And with it comes the promise that he'll never be cold or hungry again. All his life the Headmaster of the orphanage has set traps for the children, punishing them if they make the wrong choice, and this looks an awful lot like a trap to Kale. But on the other hand what if it isn't? Can he reject such a tempting offer?

He has reason to be wary. Regardless of the Corsair's offer things in the sky aren't quite as idyllic as they seem. Rebels within the ranks of the Corsairs are trying to undermine the absolute control of the Elders who rule the sky. And on the ground the landbound who chafe under the rule of the Protectorate are searching for ways to fight an enemy they can't reach. On his journey to the skyhold Kale and Tartarus will encounter an airship struggling to subdue a local rebellion, and will pick up a runaway with a far more interesting history than he lets on. And things will only become more confusing whey they reach the skyhold. Kale will be forced to pick sides in this conflict before he even knows who he can trust.

CORSAIRS is a Young Adult novel of 100,000 words, first of a series. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this query and consider my story, and if it is of interest the completed manuscript is available for viewing.


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Meredith
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Okay, before I say anything else, I'm going to note that this entry is on the long side. It's not--quite--too long. The upper limit is what fits on a single page. But the sweet spot is usually considered to be about 250 words. This is just over 400.

quote:
Originally posted by Natej11:
Those in charge usually look down on their subjects. For the Corsairs who rule the Protectorate from their airships and skyholds that couldn't be more literal.

In general, I'm not a great fan of starting with log lines. Others may disagree. I don't think this is actually helping you, though. Especially since it doesn't even mention your protagonist. I'd delete it and the first sentence of the next paragraph.

quote:
Not that Kale knows anything about that. Orphaned at a young age, he's spent his life in a place where children only wish they were forgotten. Even those on the ground look down on him, and all Kale knows of the sky is what he's heard in rumors and stories, and his one exciting memory of seeing an airship high up and far away, a speck of white in a blue sky.
Okay. I'd keep the part about him being an orphan. Substitute in the line from below about the headmaster setting traps and punishing the children (by withholding food, if I remember the fragment I read before). And keep the bit about his previous sighting of an airship.

quote:
When a Corsair named Tartarus, sent from the nearby skyhold, comes to the orphanage in the night and offers to take Kale away to the sky, the offer seems too good to be true.
Do we need to know that he's from the nearby skyhold or that he comes in the night? I'm not even sure we need to know Tartarus's name.

quote:
A new life, a chance to work on the airships as a part of a family with all the other Corsairs as brothers and sisters, making profitable voyages and exploring the world. And with it comes the promise that he'll never be cold or hungry again. All his life the Headmaster of the orphanage has set traps for the children, punishing them if they make the wrong choice, and this looks an awful lot like a trap to Kale.
Like I said, I'd put the bit about the headmaster above. Leave only the "This looks an awful lot like a trap."

quote:
But on the other hand what if it isn't? Can he reject such a tempting offer?
Hmm. A lot of agents really don't like rhetorical questions.

quote:
He has reason to be wary. Regardless of the Corsair's offer things in the sky aren't quite as idyllic as they seem. Rebels within the ranks of the Corsairs are trying to undermine the absolute control of the Elders who rule the sky. And on the ground the landbound who chafe under the rule of the Protectorate are searching for ways to fight an enemy they can't reach. On his journey to the skyhold Kale and Tartarus will encounter an airship struggling to subdue a local rebellion, and will pick up a runaway with a far more interesting history than he lets on. And things will only become more confusing whey they reach the skyhold. Kale will be forced to pick sides in this conflict before he even knows who he can trust.
All of this may be going a little too far into the story. In general, you only want to go as far as the inciting incident. I think this carries farther into the story.

quote:
CORSAIRS is a Young Adult novel of 100,000 words, first of a series. I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this query and consider my story, and if it is of interest the completed manuscript is available for viewing.
[/QUOTE]

The genre is incomplete. It's young adult (not capitalized) fantasy. I'd say potentially the first of a series. (You want them to think that this book is complete in its own right.)
You don't need to tell them that the ms is available. That's assumed.

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Natej11
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Thanks for being willing to share your extensive experience with queries with me, Meredith. I'll try cutting it down like you recommended and repost.

As for the "first of a series" bit, I realize publishers like standalones even with series, but I heard somewhere that agents like the hint that there's more coming because it shows them that the author is producing and has plans to make their attention worth it.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Natej11:

As for the "first of a series" bit, I realize publishers like standalones even with series, but I heard somewhere that agents like the hint that there's more coming because it shows them that the author is producing and has plans to make their attention worth it.

Yes, that's why I suggested the "potentially the first of a series." [Smile]
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Natej11
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Okay here's my second crack at it, slightly tailored to a specific agent. I also need some help with a lookover of the synopsis if someone wants to be a dear or do a swap. Also a final brushup of the first chapter could be nice if someone wants to do an exchange.

quote:

Orphaned at a young age, Kale has spent his life in a place where children only wish they were forgotten. His education has mostly been on hardship, hunger and cold and the traps the Headmaster sets as excuses for his arbitrary punishments. All Kale knows of the sky is what he's heard in rumors and stories, and his one exciting memory of seeing an airship high up and far away, a speck of white in a blue sky.

When a Corsair comes to the orphanage in the night and offers to take Kale away to the sky, the offer seems too good to be true. A new life, a chance to work on the airships as a part of a family with all the other Corsairs as brothers and sisters, making profitable voyages and exploring the world. And with it comes the promise that he'll never be cold or hungry again. From his experience with the Headmaster this looks an awful lot like a trap to Kale. But on the other hand he can't afford to pass up such a tempting offer.

CORSAIRS is a young adult fantasy novel of 100,000 words, potentially first of a series. The remainder of the email contains the first chapter and a synopsis of CORSAIRS, as per your submission guidelines. Thank you for taking the time to consider my story, and if it is of interest I hope to hear from you.


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Bruchar
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Natej11,

Great revision! I had a difficult time getting through the original version, and it's interesting to see how Meredith's advice was so spot-on.

Two observations:
The abrupt first-mention of Corsair stopped the flow. Maybe a descriptive word or or two of what a corsair is would help clue the reader in. ex: When an airship pilot... or When a Corsair captain...

The sentence "And with it comes..." seems extraneous and could be deleted.

Good luck for a great response from editors-- this sounds like a great adventure for Kale!

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Natej11
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Well, after a lot of procrastination and hair pulling I finally sent my first query out. As a pastime goes I'd rank it just below extensive revision work, and I'd rather be working on new projects. I'm also pretty sure it's terrible and they'll reject it halfway through.

Now time to wait a week, do some other stuff, then do it all again.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Natej11:
Well, after a lot of procrastination and hair pulling I finally sent my first query out. As a pastime goes I'd rank it just below extensive revision work, and I'd rather be working on new projects. I'm also pretty sure it's terrible and they'll reject it halfway through.

Now time to wait a week, do some other stuff, then do it all again.

Chin up. The first queries are the hardest. [Smile]

I usually send out queries in batches of three. Then wait a week. Rinse and repeat. You are not alone.

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tesknota
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Good luck! Your revised query is very good. I really hope you get this published. I might or might not be impartial to stories about airships.
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Christian Behr
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I'd be willing to read your first chapter, Natej11. Email me at christianbehr2@gmail.com
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Natej11
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quote:
Originally posted by tesknota:
Good luck! Your revised query is very good. I really hope you get this published. I might or might not be impartial to stories about airships.

There's a certain magic to airships. I don't think it's a coincidence that anime, which tends sculpt stories around the wonder of things that excite the human spirit, often includes airships in their stories.
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