Monday, May 18, 2009

Monday Mania--Query Letter

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

Critique Archive 0023:

Query #1
Dear Agent:

I am seeking literary representation for my completed 98,000-word YA historical novel Girl From Gurian, set in 18th century Philippines. Girl From Gurian is the story of a fifteen year old princess who discovers the depths of her inner strength as she survives life in exile.

Juzliza’s life changes the day she meets – and falls in love – with a slave-raider named Rumatag. Her father, however, wants her to marry Rumatag’s uncle, Datu Tungkil, to stave off unrest among his allies who don’t support the sultan’s friendly overtures towards the Spanish colonial government. When she refuses to marry Datu Tungkil and the sultan allows the Spaniards to build a Catholic church on Gurian, Datu Tungkil overthrows the sultan.

Juzliza and her family flee into exile. Enduring hardships, she is haunted by Rumatag’s stinging betrayal, when he did not try to stop his uncle’s insurrection. Eventually, she adjusts to life in exile, learning a trade, finding solace in a new love, and even converting to the Catholic church despite her father’s opposition.

Just as her life begins to settle, a new twist unfolds. The Spanish government arrests her father for treason and agrees to release him if she can free a Spanish hostage held by a kinsman. As Juzliza attempts this daunting task, Rumatag captures her. Will she be able to fight off her feelings for him to accomplish her mission and possibly even reclaim her rightful throne?

I grew up in the Philippines and immigrated to Utah, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Utah State University. Over the last two decades, my articles and essays have been published in magazines and newspapers. I also have worked in marketing and public relations.

I would be happy to send you more material, should you be interested. Thank you for your time.

Query #2
I am seeking representation for my completed, 98,000-word YA historical novel Girl From Gurian, set in 18th century Philippines.

A Philippine Pocahontas meets Pirates of the Carribean in this story of a fifteen-year-old crown princess who sets off an insurrection when she allows the Spanish government to build a Catholic church on her Muslim island.

Her family flees into exile, where she fights off pirates, loneliness, and poverty. But most of all, she fights off the memory of the young man she loved, a slave-raider who supported his uncle in the rebellion because Spaniards killed his parents years before. Piano, eccentric friends, a new vocation and the tender love of a Spanish mercenary help ease her days, until she feels she could be content living the life of an ordinary girl. When her father is arrested for treason and she undertakes a dangerous mission to free him, she has to choose between her new life – and love – and the chance to reclaim her rightful throne.

Girl From Gurian was inspired by true historical events, when Fatima, the daughter of an exiled Philippine sultan, negotiated the release of a hostage in exchange for her father’s freedom.

I grew up in the Philippines and moved to Utah in 1987 where I obtained a bachelors degree in English from Utah State University. Over the last two decades, I have written articles and essays for magazines and newspapers. I also have extensive marketing and public relations experience.

I would be happy to send you more material should you be interested. Thank you for your time.


Jordan McCollum said...

This sounds pretty awesome! I vote for the second query, though I'd probably cut the penultimate sentence in the third paragraph.

I prefer the second query because it cuts to the chase. I can take or leave allusions to movies to explain a plot, but there's more immediacy in the plot description without all the details of the twists and turns.

Anonymous said...

I think I prefer the second one too. There's a little more flare of the personality in it, which gives me a taste of what the book might read like.

Anonymous said...

I'd go with the second one, too. Just my opinion: I don't think you need to include that you're looking for representation--the fact that you're sending the query implies as much. Also, saying you'd be happy to send more material seems redundant in the same way. I'd just end with "Thank you for your consideration," or something like that.

Fiauna said...

Wow, well done. But, unlike the other commenters, I liked the first one. I loved the summary. However, I agree with LexiconLuvr; the second one does have more personality.

Best of luck.

TheOneTrueSue said...

I liked the second query. All of the names in the first query put me off a little.

Lori Folkman said...

The second one is perfect. I want to read more!

I'm dying to know who the author is and can't wait for follow-up. Let us know what kind of response you get!

Good luck.

Dot said...

I thought the second query was far clearer and more direct. I'd add the word "the" before "piano," and I agree with the other commenters' edits. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Second one for sure. The metaphorical comparisons to other stories rather than the drawn out descriptions, give you the feel for the novel without bogging down with too much detail. Save the detail for when we actually have the novel in our hands.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback!