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Author Topic: Query Letter for Reaver
TrishaH24
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Meredith inspired me to post my query. I'm actually more nervous about posting this than I was about posting my first 13. Queries kill me.

Basically what I need to know is: what, if anything, works? What, if anything, doesn't? (Feel free to offer suggestions on how to fix things if you have them! I love getting other people's perspective.) And finally, if you were an agent reading this, would you request a partial? (Or, if you were in a book store reading the back flap, would you buy this book based on the summary portion of the query?)

Here it is (cringe):

Dear (Agent),

There are two things Samantha Weaver needs to know. One: whatís the deal with Will Egan and his habit of showing up just when she needs him (even if she canít stand him), and two: what the hell are the red eyed monsters hovering around the edge of her vision?

It doesnít occur to her that the answers just might overlap. At least, not until she and Will come face to face with the demon thatís been haunting her. Suddenly she is thrown into the world of Reavers, demon hunters that put themselves at risk of possession with every breath they take.

Sam has to decide how much she trusts Will if she wants to stop the red-eyed creatures from taking over her body and destroying her soul.

And she has to do it fast, because the demons arenít going quietly.

Reaver is a 55,000 word young adult urban fantasy. I wrote Reaver as a stand-alone novel, but since completion Iíve begun work on a sequel. This is my third completed novel, but the first I have seriously considered for publication.

May I send you a partial or full manuscript?

Thank you for considering me for representation.

Trisha Hall


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aspirit
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quote:
Dear (Agent),

There are two things Samantha Weaver needs to know. One: whatís the deal with Will Egan and his habit of showing up just when she needs him (even if she canít stand him), and two: what the hell are the red eyed monsters hovering around the edge of her vision?



I'm not sure how I feel about the first line. However, I know your counting for me slows the pace too much. Another concern I have is for the language. Samantha already seems whiny and crude. Does she curse in the novel? If she doesn't, then you might want to leave out phrases like "what the hell" in the query. They donít have context working in their favor.

quote:
It doesnít occur to her that the answers just might overlap. At least, not until she and Will come face to face with the demon thatís been haunting her. [Where did this demon come from?] Suddenly she is thrown into the world of Reavers, demon hunters that put themselves at risk of possession with every breath they take.

The image that comes to my mind when I see "Reavers" for bad guys is of the Firefly cannibals. One of antagonists by David Farland (David Wolverton when he writes fantasy) also has the same name. You'd have to make these characters at least as interesting as those other bad guys to pull off calling them the same thing.

quote:
Sam has to decide how much she trusts Will if she wants to stop the red-eyed creatures from taking over her body and destroying her soul.

I don't like that you bounced from the red-eyed creatures to demons and back to red-eyed creatures without tying them together.

quote:
And she has to do it fast, because the demons arenít going quietly.

Reaver is a 55,000 word young adult urban fantasy. I wrote Reaver as a stand-alone novel, but since completion Iíve begun work on a sequel. This is my third completed novel, but the first I have seriously considered for publication.


Selling one novel isn't hard enough, so you're trying to sell two books at once in the query letter? I recommend that you don't. The time to mention the sequel is when you're in negotiations with an agent or editor. As for the last line: So, what? No agent is going to consider this novel in light of your previous, non-publishable work.

quote:
May I send you a partial or full manuscript?
Giving the agent a yes/no question can hurt you. It's too easy to say No.

quote:
Thank you for considering me for representation.

Trisha Hall


A complimentary closing (ex: Sincerely,) is the professional standard.

As a theoretical agent, I wouldn't request a partial. The novel could be perfect, but I don't have a good sense of it.

By the way, much of what I know about queries came from a blog called Query Shark, and your query is better than some of the queries posted there. The real lesson of the blog, though, is that queries need revision as often as stories do. It's a fact of writing life.


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TrishaH24
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Thanks for the feedback. It's funny you mention query shark. I check in with that blog about once a week. I've never seen Firefly. I used the word Reaver based on the defenition (as it relates to what the characters do, though it only makes sense as you go through and read, so perhaps it isn't the strongest title.) That kind of sucks, but I'm not the first person who has had to change a title they liked.

Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate that you took the time to let me know why this query doesn't work.


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MAP
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The story is very clear and has a young adult voice to it, but I think we need to have more of a feel for Samantha's character to make us care about her.

Also, the ending could be stronger.

quote:
Sam has to decide how much she trusts Will if she wants to stop the red-eyed creatures from taking over her body and destroying her soul.

And she has to do it fast, because the demons arenít going quietly.


Her choice is whether or not to trust Will, but the answer is an obvious YES. You have given us no reason not to trust Will and the consequence for not trusting him is having having her soul destroyed. I think you need to make this more of a dilema.

Oh and I agree with Aspirit about taking out the stuff about a series and that you have written three novels at the end. I think agents only care about the story and publishing credits.

Good luck with this.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited March 02, 2010).]


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Meredith
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I seem to be inspiring a lot of people lately. Now if I only knew what I was doing . . .

quote:
There are two things Samantha Weaver needs to know. One: whatís the deal with Will Egan and his habit of showing up just when she needs him (even if she canít stand him), and two: what the hell are the red eyed monsters hovering around the edge of her vision?

A lot of agents rant about starting with a question, including the Query Shark. This isn't a rhetorical question, but why take the chance of an agent seeing that question mark and not reading on?

quote:
It doesnít occur to her that the answers just might overlap. At least, not until she and Will come face to face with the demon thatís been haunting her. Suddenly she is thrown into the world of Reavers, demon hunters that put themselves at risk of possession with every breath they take.

If Will always turns up when the red-eyed monsters do, why doesn't it occur to her that they're connected. I'm starting to think she's not too bright, here.

quote:
Sam has to decide how much she trusts Will if she wants to stop the red-eyed creatures from taking over her body and destroying her soul.

And she has to do it fast, because the demons arenít going quietly.


I don't know you're story, obviously. But I'm seeing a better source of conflict than that Sam just doesn't like Will. If Will consistently turns up at the same time as the demons, how does Sam know if he's with them or against them? How can she be sure? That's a stronger conflict. (We all know what happens with two people of the opposite sex who initially hate each other.)

quote:

Reaver is a 55,000 word young adult urban fantasy. I wrote Reaver as a stand-alone novel, but since completion Iíve begun work on a sequel. This is my third completed novel, but the first I have seriously considered for publication.

I agree. Agents don't care that you've got two other novels stashed under the bed. Some might want to know that there is potential for a sequel, some won't. Check their websites to see if they have a preference and leave this out if they don't specify. But I wouldn't say that you've started the sequel, just because a lot of agents would consider that a bad business move. How are you going to sell the sequel if the first book doesn't sell?

Note: I'm not saying not to write the sequel. I learned more from writing the sequel to my first novel than I have from any other single thing I've written. Man, I made a lot of mistakes on that one. But, you can learn more from your mistakes than your successes, if you pay attention.

[This message has been edited by Meredith (edited March 02, 2010).]


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axeminister
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quote:
I've never seen Firefly.

Blasphemy!

Regarding the sequel theory, I say have one planned at the very least, written at best. If they like the first book and it has an opening, they will likely ask. Sequels are insanely popular nowadays especially in YA.

My daughter has written on her left palm at all times how many days left for the next book in the Vamp Academy, and Vamp Diaries trilogies (or quadrilogies?) At least, I think those are the ones. Sigh.

So go for it, especially if the ideas are flowing.

I like what Meredith said about learning from her sequel. I'm currently working on a novel which I'm planning a sequel and I can see the first one becoming better because of what I have planned ahead. It's hard to explain, but if it's happening to you, you'll see what I mean.

Axe


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TrishaH24
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Thanks everybody!

Sorry Axe, I've heard of Firefly, but I've never seen it. Isn't that the show that was canceled before it even finished out the first season? I've heard good things, just never got around to checking it out.

I wrote an epic fantasy about a year ago, followed by a sequel, and I completely understand about the sequel making the first better. There were so many things I learned from writing that sequel (the biggest being I need a really good bulleted synopsis before embarking on any sequel. Learned that the hard way.) I'll probably leave out that I've got plans for a second book simply because (as aspirit mentioned) it is hard to launch a new author on a series. If the first one tanks, there won't be a second.

Because of the feedback I've received, I'm starting completely over on the query. When I wrote it, I was nervous about using a question (even though it isn't rhetorical) and now I know it would be better to go a different route, just in case.

Thanks so much for helping me out with this! I hate queries, but I think you guys have made it a little easier for me.


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WBSchmidt
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I haven't ready other posts here but I wanted to give some feedback. Hopefully it will be helpful.

As an agent...

I don't know that you want the statement, "but the first I have seriously considered for publication" when submitting to an agent. This is not information they need (or perhaps want) to know. However, if anyone who has experience submitting to agents wants to correct me on this please do.

It may be me but I think you are hiding too much in this query. For example, you mention that Samantha wants to learn the mystery regarding "the red eyed monsters hovering around the edge of her vision" but something feels absent. I wouldn't suggest giving away any big spoiler but something more to show that a mystery exists.

As a reader...

I would want to know more about what is at risk that is unique to your story. Samantha wants to prevent these creatures from "taking over her body and destroying her soul" but is seen in may novels. What is different about this than other novels? Is there something unique about how these particular creatures destroys a person's soul? This is the type of information that will draw readers (and agents).

--William


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XD3V0NX
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Okay, so, I really like this query. There was only one thing that seemed to bother me: I don't think you necessarily need the word 'just', I'm not sure, but that word does bother me. It too makes me cringe, as does adverbs. When i'm writing, though, my first draft anyway, I use the word 'just' a hundred plus times, but then I try getting rid of them all. Other than that, though, I can't really find anything wrong with it. Like I said, I do really like this, but i'm also a novice so I don't really know what else to say. This did teach me something, though, i was surprised. Remember that review you left me? You gave me the order of how a query is supposed to be layed out. I didn't exactly get that, but this made it more clear for me and I think I can do that. =]]

I would love to see a partial, and if I like it, i'll be happy to take a look at the manuscript. I haven't read someone else's work in awhile. I think I can learn more from this, too.


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