Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Mania--Query Letter

One of our readers submitted a query letter. Feel free to make comments, but please keep them constructive.

Critique Archive 0020:

Re: Book Proposal Request

Dear XXXX:

I am seeking representation for my Christian novel, The Blood Oath complete at 85,000 words. I am enclosing a synopsis and the first three chapters as a sample.

I am a member of the League of Utah Writers and the American Christian Fiction Writers associations. Often God’s most effective form of instruction is our trial. In The Blood Oath, the readers are able to vicariously experience Edwina McCullough’s crash course in Christianity 101.

Edwina is trapped in the despair of her “darkest night” when she is jolted by an angelic visitation from Evangel who persuades her to view her life from the vantage point of potential instead of the avenue of defeat. After the visitation, Edwina is determined to live her life differently.

When Edwina and the members of the Calico Club discover the Lewis/Todd blood oath, they set out on a quest to honor the pledge on behalf of their deceased club member, Karla Lewis. When their car breaks down and they become marooned in the desert town of Fortunado, their two week trip turns into a two month odyssey.

The members of the Calico Club plus one, Gabriel, emerge profoundly changed from their experiences in Fortunado. Unfortunately, only three of them are able to continue the quest and ultimately find Zion, the heir to the promise.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you soon. The book’s scripture, “Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20)

Writer’s name

3 Chapters


Mary Campbell said...

I don't know a lot about query letters, so I wouldn't be able to say if it was done correctly or not, but I do find her book intriguing.
The line "...crash course in Christianity 101" turns me off of it a little bit though. It feels high-handed - which is usually what I don't like about Christian Literature.

folksinmt said...

This sounds like an interesting book. One thing that I have learned from the internet this year is to never start your query letter with an intro or personal info. Jump right into the plot. If you followed agent for a day on Nathan Bransford's blog, you can easily see why this is important. You have to catch an agent or editor's attention right off the bat. Maybe you could start with the part "jolted from her darkest night by an angelic visit." Put your first two paragraphs at the end of the letter instead. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I think this could be good.

What I would want is some name changes. For me, they feel stiff and
posing sort of names: Edwina, Evangel, Karla (why not Carla?), the town of Fortunado, Zion, Gabriel. I also don't get Calico Club or why that's a choice.

I'd rather see more humble, easier to imagine and relate to character
and place names.On the TV show, Saving Grace, the angel's name is Earl. Think how different that character would be if his name was more pompous or hard to relate to.
But Earl is just great. Anyone can relate to him. He is definitely an angel but humble in name and clothing choices too.
Grace as a name is about the character and what she needs, but it also works. It's an easy name.

I am NOT a professional, so keep in mind that my comments are just that.
Anyway, I like the story and hope the above comments are taken in the right light. (sorry couldn't help myself)

Heather Justesen said...

Ditto folksinmt about putting the story info first, and the info about you later. And I didn't understand the reference to the Calico Club, either. Either give a five-word explanation of who or what the Calico Club is, or just say that she and her friends took the trip.

I do agree that there needs to be a good reason for someone to be named Edwina, unless she's 80-something years old, or this book takes place a long time ago. Karla is fine, in my opinion. What names you use for people and places is obviously up to your discretion. You may want to consider the Anonymous poster's points. But without reading the story, it's hard to say whether the names are out of place. If the story takes place outside of the U.S. ( the names may fit fine.

Also, I'd like a few words about what the blood oath is all about, even just a hint.

I don't have a lot of experience with query letters, but yo have a great start here.

Fiauna said...

My queries have had very limited success. I'm talking minimal success--if you can call it that. But from everything I read, your author bio and credentials should come last. Remember, it's all about the book and grabbing the reader's--in this case, the agent or editor--attention.

Best of luck and I'll be looking for the book in the future.