New Query Package

Submission protocol, query etiquette, and strategies that work
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Watcher55
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New Query Package

Post by Watcher55 » June 12th, 2011, 11:53 am

I've only queried one agent because I'm notorious for getting things wrong the first time, and I knew I would have to have to change a lot of things before I started sending out multiple submissions. I need to lose the epigrams (and anything else that's in italics, because agents don't like them even if there are no copyright issues. The synopsis is far from polished, and the query itself needs work in light of recent revisions.

One of the issues that nags me is identifying the genre. Keeping in mind that the MC is yanked back to 64 CE, should I go with this revision or keep the original?

THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word science fiction/fantasy Alternate History novel that draws from M-theory, Mythology and Ancient History to chronicle the ordeal of a nameless god who has reached the age of majority.

I ask this question because, while the label, Alternate History, is a little more precise, I can't find any agents who specify they are looking for AH. Is AH a subgenre of only Sci-fi, or is it a subgenre of others as well?

longknife

Re: New Query Package

Post by longknife » June 12th, 2011, 1:30 pm

God knows that I have a h**l of a time with queries, so I probably don't have a drop in the bucket to reply to this.
BUT [that's never stopped me before - so why now?]

THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word science fiction/fantasy Alternate History novel that draws from M-theory, Mythology and Ancient History to chronicle the ordeal of a nameless god who has reached the age of majority.

This gives me a lot of problems.
Alternate History?
What ordeal?
Why make it a nameless god?
So what about reaching the age of majority? There are thousands of stories like this. What makes this different?


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Collectonian
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Re: New Query Package

Post by Collectonian » June 12th, 2011, 1:48 pm

Alternate History carries with it some specific connotations, to me, primarily that it will be a realistic story answering the "what if" of history. I.E. What if Lincoln survived his assassination? What if the native groups had survived the diseases brought over by the Europeans and were able to defend their country? What if the other side won World War II? Stuff like that. They are primarily a subset of historical fiction, rather than sci-fi, from what I've seen and read. I'd say call it fantasy, particularly when you add in a "nameless god." From similar novels I could find that were fantasy pieces with alternate history elements, they all seem to just be labeled fantasy.

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cheekychook
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Re: New Query Package

Post by cheekychook » June 12th, 2011, 1:58 pm

Watcher55 wrote:I've only queried one agent because I'm notorious for getting things wrong the first time, and I knew I would have to have to change a lot of things before I started sending out multiple submissions. I need to lose the epigrams (and anything else that's in italics, because agents don't like them even if there are no copyright issues. The synopsis is far from polished, and the query itself needs work in light of recent revisions.

One of the issues that nags me is identifying the genre. Keeping in mind that the MC is yanked back to 64 CE, should I go with this revision or keep the original?

THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word science fiction/fantasy Alternate History novel that draws from M-theory, Mythology and Ancient History to chronicle the ordeal of a nameless god who has reached the age of majority.

I ask this question because, while the label, Alternate History, is a little more precise, I can't find any agents who specify they are looking for AH. Is AH a subgenre of only Sci-fi, or is it a subgenre of others as well?
This is just my opinion, but I think it's better to stay vague in terms of genre and be more specific in terms of indicating what the book is actually about---that way an agent can get a general idea of placement from the genre you're listing but can make his/her own call as to where your book might actually fit. I don't know that I'm explaining myself efficiently. Put it this way. I write women's fiction with strong romantic elements and a high level of sensuality. I could specify that in a query, as it's accurate, but instead I query as women's fiction or sometimes just as commercial fiction, but I make it clear in the rest of my query that it will appeal to women, has an overriding romantic arc and has a significant heat level. Remember, an agent wants an idea of where your book can fit and what they can do with it more than they need a precise label. Show them what your book is really about and it won't matter if you're a little off with genre identification. In queries in general it is very, very important to show not tell. In the case of something as complicated as what you're suggesting it might be really helpful to find something that could be used as some sort of comparison. "Will appeal to readers who enjoyed...." or "In the style of...."----something to really indicate what they're going to find when they look at your work. Good luck.
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Quill
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Re: New Query Package

Post by Quill » June 12th, 2011, 2:01 pm

Watcher55 wrote:
THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word science fiction/fantasy Alternate History novel that draws from M-theory, Mythology and Ancient History to chronicle the ordeal of a nameless god who has reached the age of majority.
Why wouldn't you keep it simple and say "THE NINTH ADDICT is a 75,000-word fantasy", period?

Hopefully you will have described the book well enough in your query's descriptive blurb to not need to explain what it draws from and what it chronicles.

It is almost always better to show in your blurb what the book is about than to tell what it is about in your title sentence.

And hopefully the alternate history and SF elements will show in the blurb as well. Let it become apparent through your writing that this book is a mix. If you really think one of these is more prominent than fantasy, then substitute it. Point still being that the genre you call out will probably not be a deal-killer or maker either way. Relax and again, try to keep it simple.

Otherwise a couple suggestions:

Say what "M-theory" is. Some agents won't have a clue.

And, no need to capitalize "Mythology" and "Ancient History".

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Re: New Query Package

Post by HillaryJ » June 12th, 2011, 5:38 pm

Seconding (thricing?) Cheekychook and Quill. If you aren't sure, go for the genre rather than a sub-genre. Fantasy. The query will give the agent an idea of whether it's a subset of fantasy of interest to her/him, and will help you assign the most correct sub-genre at submission time.

Good luck!
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Watcher55
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Re: New Query Package

Post by Watcher55 » June 13th, 2011, 12:35 pm

Thanks y'all. Very instructive advice, and I think it's helped me craft a new query that eliminates most of the esoterica and reframes my approach. I posted it here viewtopic.php?f=13&t=3859, so if you get a minute maybe you can take a look.

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