Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Mania: Query Letter

One of our readers submitted a query letter. Please keep comments constructive.

Critique Archive: 0016

Dear Agent,

THE WORLD THROUGH HER EYES is a mainstream love story with literary sensibilities that blends Indian cultural flavors of Diaspora writers with the emotional drama style of Nicholas Sparks and Mark Haddon's quirky character. Jennet and DC come from different cultures and have different values. Always attempting to score against each other they finally fall for each other, finally discovering the power of love to achieve and heal.

When Jennet, an eighteen year old American girl influenced by her Indian mother, visits India to learn Indian classical dance, she falls in love with a chemistry student DC, whom she meets at a college cultural festival. A gifted photographer suffering from social anxiety, DC has given up pursuing his passion because of parental pressures. Jen dreams of becoming a professional bharatnatyam dancer and urges DC pursue his as well by submitting his pictures in an Amateur Photography Contest. He does and is invited to Chicago to participate in the final round of the contest exhibition, but fails due to his fear of public speaking even though his photographs leave a mark. Upon his return, Jen and DC take a long drive to celebrate but experience an unfortunate accident. DC loses his eyesight, Jen slips into coma, their entire future lies shattered and yet life must go on...

My writing credentials include a non-fiction published book by a small publisher in India which enjoyed a moderate commercial success in theIndian market. Narayan Murthy of Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY) called it "stories narrated with skill and empathy," and Prabhu Chawla of India Today (India's largest largest-selling weekly English-language magazine) said "I am amazed at the passion of the project." I am an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT); I was the editor of my college literary magazine, as well as a freelance writer for local newspapers. Currently I working on a stand alone sequel of the current novel and in my day job I write proposals for a top tier IT consulting company, some of which have won multi-million dollar contracts from Fortune 500 clients.

Your agency appeals to me because of its successful representation of cross-cultural themes and promotion of new talent like XYZ. The increasing popularity of India as a tourism destination, media attention which eye donation campaigns receive all over the world, a growing populace of IIT alumni and their extended family networks allover the world are key marketability indicators of the book. At 70,000 words, this throat catching tale is readily marketable to publishers. I would be happy to submit a synopsis and sample chapters on request. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,


3 comments:

Annette Lyon said...

Interesting premise.

I'd condense the plot summary into the absolute minimum you can to pique interest. Avoid explaining too much or going into much detail.

Be careful about ambiguous/unclear phrasing. For example, "Mark Haddon's quirky character" sounds like you're referring to a person in one of his books rather than his voice or style.

Also, proof carefully. There are a few grammatical and other mistakes, such as, "Currently I working" that won't get past an agent.

Good luck.

Heather B. Moore said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather B. Moore said...

Dear Agent [I KNOW this is just a draft, but make sure you have the agent's name here so it won't look like a form letter],

THE WORLD THROUGH HER EYES is a mainstream [romance] with literary sensibilities [I DON'T know what literary sensibilities are] that blends Indian cultural flavors of Diaspora writers with the emotional drama style of Nicholas Sparks and Mark Haddon's quirky character[s]. Jennet and DC come from different cultures and have different values. Always attempting to score against each other they finally fall for each other, [eventually] discovering the power of love to achieve and heal.

When Jennet, an eighteen year old American girl influenced by her Indian mother, visits India to learn Indian classical dance, she falls in love with a chemistry student DC [YOU ALREADY said this in the previous paragraph. I would take a hard look at both introductory paragraphs, and make them into a single paragraph], whom she meets at a college cultural festival. A gifted photographer suffering from social anxiety, DC has given up pursuing his passion because of parental pressures. Jen dreams of becoming a professional bharatnatyam dancer and urges DC pursue his as well by submitting his pictures in an Amateur Photography Contest. [I WOULD delete the next few sentences, because it reads too much like a synopis] He does and is invited to Chicago to participate in the final round of the contest exhibition, but fails due to his fear of public speaking even though his photographs leave a mark. Upon his return, Jen and DC take a long drive to celebrate but experience an unfortunate accident. DC loses his eyesight, Jen slips into coma, their entire future lies shattered and yet life must go on...

My writing credentials include a non-fiction published book [TELL US the name. Then just say it's critically acclaimed and skip the quotes. A query letter should be short and to the point] by a small publisher in India which enjoyed a moderate commercial success in theIndian market. Narayan Murthy of Infosys (NASDAQ:INFY) called it "stories narrated with skill and empathy," and Prabhu Chawla of India Today (India's largest largest-selling weekly English-language magazine) said "I am amazed at the passion of the project." I am an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT); I was the editor of my college literary magazine, as well as a freelance writer for local newspapers [THIS IS good information]. Currently I [am] working on a stand alone sequel of the current novel [DELETE THE info about the current work in progress] and in my day job I write proposals for a top tier IT consulting company, some of which have won multi-million dollar contracts from Fortune 500 clients.

Your agency appeals to me because of its successful representation of cross-cultural themes and promotion of new talent like XYZ. The increasing popularity of India as a tourism destination, media attention which eye donation campaigns receive all over the world, a growing populace of IIT alumni and their extended family networks allover the world are key marketability indicators of the book. At 70,000 words, this throat catching tale is readily marketable to publishers [YOU WANT the word count, but saying the tale is catchy and marketable might be a put-off to an agent. An agent likes to make the decision on his own]. I would be happy to submit a synopsis and sample chapters on request. I look forward to hearing from you soon. [GOOD CLOSING]