Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Query Letter

Please click here to return to part one of this post.

April 28, 2008

I am looking for professional representation, and in a world where few people take an avid interest, I wanted you to know that what I have finished will make you sit up and take notice. My 65,000 word contemporary romance novel entitled Twisted Romance has a unique feature that is designed to hold the reader's interest to the very end: a completed novella within a novel.

The novel opens with Wally Wurld sitting at his computer, feeling very confused about how an ongoing relationship with is co-worker Azalea Gold is turning from a simple office friendship to something far deeper and personal. He decided to work out his confusion by writing a story about it. Initially meant to be nothing more than an emotional release, the story soon becomes a running parallel to his relationship with Azalea. Every planned encounter (work, supermarket and the hockey game), and unplanned encounter (scooter ride in the country, supermarket, his family, work and her condo) with Azalea is so skillfully woven into the story by Wally, that it soon becomes impossible to tell whether his life is mirroring the story, or the story is mirroring his life.

I have been writing for only a short period of time. The connection that I have with my novel is very personal. I was experiencing marital problems in the winter of 2005, and one way that I found to work them out was to write this novel.

As per your agency's guidelines that you have listed in the 2008 Guide to Literary Agents, you will find enclosed a SASE, an outline and three sample chapters. The outline and chapters are recyclable. Please note that this is a simultaneous query. I thank you in advance for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.




  1. I generally like this. Honestly, though, I have two issues that would concern me. The names of the characters, Wally wurld and Azalea Gold, suggest a humorous tale, but you don't indicate in your letter that the story is meant to be funny. I suspect some agents and editors would be turned off by those names.

    Second, I would lose the third paragraph. It's tempting to sort of hedge your bets with the "new writer" kind of thing but it's more for your benefit than theirs. They don't need to know it and it most likely will bias them against you. Also, I would never share such personal details with someone who is essentially a stranger. I suspect that too will call more attention to itself than it's worth.

    Everything else looks fine to me, though I'm not expert for sure.

  2. Charles: I always had a small problem with the name Wally Wurld but could never figure out why. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I will be losing most of that third paragraph when I start writing the query letter for Line 21, because the personal touch will definitely not apply here and I should be able to tweak the "newbie" statement when I write it.

    And I agree that having conflicting tones/themes in a letter is a quick way to shoot yourself in the foot before you can really get started, so that is something else I'll have to work on as well.

    One need not be an expert on query letters in order to offer thoughtful criticism on a letter, so I appreciate the feedback that you gave here.

  3. So this is Wally unrelated to Wallace? Do you have a Wally/Wallace loop going on? :)

  4. Completely unrelated. Whereas Wally was a bit of a goofball character, Wallace is a bit more menacing in the current manuscript.

    Strangely enough, that book was the only time I've ever used the name "Wally". It never made it to any of my short stories or novellas.

  5. I think it works ok, but yeah I'm not sure I'd advertise the fact I hadn't been writing for long. I don't think there's an issue saying you were having marital problems because at least in makes you sound human and writing from a position of having been through some crap yourself.

  6. Joe: With the book that this original query was attached to, the paragraph mentioning marital problems was a definite plus.

    I think it made clearer the reason as to why I wrote the book to begin with.

    I will probably tweak that particular note about not writing for long, if only for the fact that I'm now almost three years removed from this query and I have a story under my belt.

    Thanks for the critique.

  7. Not that I know anything about query letters, but in the first paragraph, I would have wrote "which I hope will make you stand up and take notice"

  8. Sorry this is long-
    I agreed with Charles' comment.
    Wally Wurld to me is slang for Walmart! btw- I actually have an uncle Wally, (Last name Wallace)- it is silly-

    I'm used to simply beginning with "Are you interested in publishing a 60k word novel / nonfiction about... chacacter / situation?" Next paragraph is a short summary. Then the third is about how / when best times to contact you, amount of time you'll wait before queries else where, (ie 90 days) thanks."

    I tend to keep it simple n let the writing sample speak for itself.
    This is off the top of my head- (Have had courses for this)

    You seem to want to include your personal flair in the letter, which may well get attention- even if you don't directly ask for it.

    Initally tho, the editor is concerned if you meet the company's criteria of subject, style, length, ect before they devote an hour reading the sample chapters.

    If it's emotional, sexy, or dramatic you may want to say so. You may want to mention main audience target ie age group "adult," if there is one.

    All you mention may be criteria to disqualify your piece, but if it doesn't fit what they need, it's for the best- the right editor will snap it up eventually.

    Best of luck!

  9. Ocdbloggergirl: Thanks for stopping by to offer your advice.

    I'm not sure if "hope" would've work here. Using the word "hope" smacks of a little bit of pleading, and while I did want someone to take my novel, I didn't want to come off desparate in the process.

    Snaggle: Yeah, I realize now that the first name Wally is rather silly (actually, kind of realized that a few years ago), so given what I stated in the next paragraph, I kind of torpedoed myself before I even got started.

    All of your remaining points are quite valid and I agree with the bulk of them save the appropriate time to contact.

    I have learned a lot in the preceeding 2 1/2 years since I wrote this query, so when I do sit down in the next few days to cough up a first draft, it will contain quite a few elements of me in it, as opposed to being bland and formal.

    And thanks.


Originality. Is. Good. Be original. Be thoughtful. But most importantly, make me think.