Monday, February 25, 2013

Query letter #10: Mitch H

A monastic trained orphan with a talent for Sorcery, Caldan's entire world dissolves when he learns his family was murdered, almost kills his friend's brother, and is exiled from the only life he has known. Adrift and confused he begins to build a new life in a strange city, developing his Sorcerous talent while hunting for information on his parents enigmatic past. When a power hungry nation invades, for reasons both personal and nefarious, Caldan must embrace forbidden Sorcery in order to survive risking becoming the very thing he has vowed to defeat, and condemning himself in the process. In the chaos of the invasion he unearths a Sorcerous secret his parents had been hiding, with stunning implications that will change the face of Sorcery forever. [This is a very dense opening paragraph - bear in mind that people who read these letters see a lot of them. Our eyes do get tired and there is a not-yet-officially-recognised condition called Manuscript Fatigue. So break it up a bit if you can. Try reading it aloud the way it's written here - that will help you work out where the breaks should fall.]

I am seeking representation for my epic fantasy novel, A Broken Silence, which is complete at 188,000 words and the first book of a planned trilogy. [Perhaps put this first.]

Currently I am a full time freelance writer of speculative fiction living in Sydney, Australia, and a member of the NSW Writers Center. At the moment I am working on the second book of my series and developing a website. [Are you online anywhere else? If so, include the URL.]
Thank you for your time and consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Overall feedback: Again, there was no pressing reason to want to read more. You gave me a description but not a reason. We don't expect that you'll write the equivalent of a back-cover blurb (which can take weeks to perfect and are often argued over) but those blurbs are a good guide as to how to construct your query letter: you catch the reader's attention and then tell them what the story is. It's a tired old chestnut, but the 'elevator pitch' principle applies: you need to be able to tell me what your story is about and why it's great in the time it would take to ride an elevator a few floors. When readers go into a bookshop or read a description online, they're not going to give your story any more time than that either, so consider your query letter practice for that back-cover blurb that needs to impress a potential book buyer.

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