Query Letters Suck

March 10th 2017

Query letters suck.

There’s no denying that. It’s like, how do you condense a 75,000 word novel into two measly paragraphs? I understand a query letter is supposed to be your sales pitch; it’s supposed to draw the potential audience in. They say “Think back cover synopsis.” But sitting down, staring blankly at the word document, wracking your brain for eternity trying to figure out how the hell to do that is frustration beyond belief.

For those of you who don’t know what a query letter is, I’ll explain it as best I can.

1st paragraph – this is your introductory hello. The name of book, genre of book, and word count of book are introduced here. Then, you want to spruce it up by saying why you chose this particular literary agent instead of his/her colleagues or a different agency.

2nd & 3rd paragraph – two condensed paragraphs of the book that are supposed to draw your potential audience in. This all depends on the type of story you’ve written; fiction vs. non-fiction, science fiction vs. romance, etc. For a quest type story of any kind, you will want to let the agent know the main struggle/conflict and what will happen if the character(s) fail.

4th paragraph – to help better explain your book, you’ll want to use examples of published books that are similar to yours. Or movies or TV shows. This will help the agent get a better grasp of your story. Like if you’ve written another 50 Shades of Grey but with a different twist, so to say.

5th paragraph – you want to showcase any talent you have. Any competitions you won? Any previous publications? Any kind of awards? Brag, brag, brag… but in a concise and sophisticated way.

6th paragraph – you want to explain why you’re the person to write the story and not Jane Doe/John Smith. List any relevant facts about yourself; your education, extensive research you’ve done on the topic (this matters even for fiction novels [think science fiction futuristic research]), where you grew up, etc. This will all help your case and your sales pitch.

Finally, you want to thank the literary agent for his/her time and consideration. And viola, you’re finished!

Then, after you’ve finally managed to write it, you re-edit and re-edit and re-edit to the point where you lose perspective on it. Does this make sense? Does this sound good? Is this an ideal pitch? To put it simply: no. It is not. But there aren’t many resources out there to help you write a query letter. Sure, you could read all those wonderful examples out there, but ultimately, I feel they don’t help. Because it has absolutely nothing to do with your story or your life. So you’re looking at all these query letters, some for non-fiction, some for fiction and they give you an idea but they’re also vastly different from one another. You have this realization that there isn’t a cookie cutter query letter; it’s all subjective. Which sucks.

Query letters just really flippin’ suck. ALL AROUND.

I actually submitted some query letters of mine this past weekend. I sent out forty query letters on Saturday March 3rd 2017. Sunday March 4th 2017 the rejections started rolling in. Oy vey. So far I have received 8 rejections out of the 40. So I still have 32 more responses to go. Fingers crossed. I’m just waiting, praying and hoping just one will read my query as well as sample chapters and go “Hey, there’s potential here. Let me see more.”

Only time will tell. And if I get 40 rejections out of 40? Well, then I’ll just have to keep trekking on. There are hundreds of agents out there; someone’s got to like my story, right? That’s the rule of thumb. Or so I’ve heard. Thanks for joining me! Feel free to leave any comments or reviews below. 😀

–Alessandra

 

 

[My query letter for all those curious eyes]

 

Hello [Agent’s Name],

I am seeking representation for my book THE BOSTON BASE. It is a completed 75,000 word post-apocalyptic novel. [Insert personalized agent message here]. I am hopeful my story will pique your interests. It would be a great pleasure if you found a potential working relationship between us!

The story follows a Special Ops team as they hunt down two different alien/human hybrid species. These hybrid species crave human flesh despite being half human and have put a sizable dent in the human population. The team consists of three humans and four aliens united together for one cause: to find the mixed breed species and wipe them out. They receive their hunting missions from The Boston Base: a refugee militant camp that is walled in to keep the people safe and the enemy out. Chandler is the Sergeant in charge of the team, but he is not ashamed to rely on the advice and wisdom of his surrogate guardians, Damien and Cristoph, even though they are aliens. The team isn’t without its faults, but Chandler would admit for the better part of ten years, they were a synchronized hunting and killing machine.

However, after a mission gets ambushed, their delicately crafted trust in each other is tested. They find out that Navier, one of the aliens responsible for the creation of the halfbreed race, is still alive. This news comes as a surprise to the team because the aliens had confirmed twelve years ago that Navier was dead. They start to question where loyalties lie; how can humans trust aliens; how can aliens trust humans; how could they trust each other? It is difficult to repair trust once it is broken, but the team decides it is more important to find Navier and kill him than mend their open wounds. They have to continue to fight together despite the tension because if they don’t, if Navier remains at large, then the already diminishing human race would be no more.

This story was inspired by the TV show Dominion, where in a post-apocalyptic world, the military governs the once free world; where the humans live safely within the walls of Las Vegas away from the angels desperately trying to possess them. However, The Boston Base flips the religion aspects of Dominion. These angels and demons that have been so revered and feared within the Bible, Torah, Quran, are actually just two humanoid alien species who live, breathe and die the same way humans do. And with the reality that they are not divine, comes the reality that they are just as dangerous as the human race can be, perhaps even more so. I would like to note that even though the mix breeds eat humans, they are not zombies/undead. They, too, live, breathe and die just as easily as their human and alien counterparts.

I am a college graduate of College where I graduated in Year with a degree in psychology. I have been writing since I was fifteen and I would love to shift into writing as my full time career. I have a couple of other books in the queue, but my current focus is The Boston Base. I was born and raised just north of Boston and most of the places I reference in the story are cities my grandparents live in and businesses that I have visited growing up.

Also, my father was in the Army Reserves for 36 years so I have had a taste for military style stories. The Army was such a huge identity I had associated with my father and the psychology behind the military always fascinated me. You dress the way you’re told; you eat what you’re told; you do what you’re told; and you develop such a tightly knit bond with your fellow squad members. I wanted to explore that relationship and see how the dynamic might shift when mixing in different species that didn’t fully trust each other. My father was very helpful with the military terms, leadership positions and what each role might entail responsibility wise.

Below are the first three chapters of my book. A full manuscript is available upon request. I would like to personally thank you for this opportunity as well as thank you for your time and consideration. Sincerely,

 

Alessandra

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