VERSION 6 REVISED: Query: Awakening

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tanyathib
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VERSION 6 REVISED: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 25th, 2010, 2:16 am

VERSION 1
Dear Mr. <Agent>,

AWAKENING is a YA FANTASY novel that at 88,000 words, will appeal to readers of authors similar to Stephanie Meyer, Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. I am looking for the best fit for a long term relationship, not the first acceptance letter I can get for one book. It would be my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you on this project.

I’m honored to present to you AWAKENING:

What if it turned out that the last ten years of your life were little more than a charade? What if you suddenly realized that your favorite fantasy novel series is actually a historical documentary of your past? What if you were faced with the choice between the comfortable safety of the charade and the terrifying exhilaration of a world you would never have believed existed?

Suddenly thrust into a world that balances on the edge between reality and fantasy, Amanda, a modest but captivating teen, finds that everything she thought she knew was a fabrication. As a haze, that she never realized existed, begins to lift, Amanda must come to terms with her surreal past which unveils an endless future that is nothing short of impossible. The clock is ticking and the unexpected development of strengths, powers and skills threaten to be more than one being should be capable of enduring. While being torn between two worlds of what was and what could be, Amanda finds herself in an earth-shattering yet tantalizing predicament that requires difficult choices of love and bonds. In an attempt to correct a deep-seated wrong from the past, a hidden community is drawn together in support, pulled apart in rivalry, lives are at risk and the fate of an entire race hangs in the balance of the decisions of one girl. In the first book of this series the strengths and bonds of Elvin blood versus human blood sets the stage for an imminent battle ground to be conquered by the most unlikely and least suspecting.

After reading my manuscript, my 12 year old son (who despises most reading at the best of times) said to me “Mom, you know how you described the Twilight series & the Percy Jackson series as being plausible fiction – not a true story, but as a reader you are able to visualize yourself as one of the characters and you can actually imagine all (or at least some) of the stuff that’s happening as being possible, like it could be real, like maybe it could actually happen to someone {I nodded in agreement} … well, you pulled it off.” He then added “By the way, you’d better hurry up and finish book two, because I’m not too happy that your ending left me wishing that I already had the next one to read.”

My apologies, I understand that “testimonials” are not something that are normally included in a query letter (especially from a family member). But the words of my son were so profound, primarily because of his personality and his natural aversion to reading in general, that there is no other way to say them and they would be empty and meaningless coming directly from myself. I was speechless and astounded that not only did my son "like" my book, but he was pushing me to get the second book completed (there is no way on this earth he has developed this opinion out of any loyalty to a family member - he is too plainly honest for that – it’s refreshing).

I have been the Publisher, and part owner, of a successful “good news only” newspaper called the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received – however, I am not a “journalist”. In fact, prior to launching this newspaper, I had no training, schooling or experience in the “newspaper” world. I understand deadlines, I understand marketing in the real world (as opposed to “in theory”) and I work very well under pressure. Business and literature have always been personal passions of mine and the opportunity to combine these two passions is a perfect fit for me.

My completed manuscript of AWAKENING is ready and waiting to send on your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau

{I have read that my additive referencing my son is typically a 'no-no' but I am honestly stuck on how to portray the 'essence' of that bit in a different way. Any thoughts? My son even put "help encouraging my Mom finish her 2nd book" as an item on his Christmas list! Awwww.}

{Also, I know I'm new to this site and have not yet been 'active' throughout the forums, but I'm also very new to writing and don't really feel that I have the experience to offer the valueable feedback that most people would be looking for in this forum as of yet - I hope that's ok.}
Last edited by tanyathib on August 6th, 2011, 6:08 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Quill
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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by Quill » December 25th, 2010, 9:11 am

tanyathib wrote:Dear Mr. <Agent>,

AWAKENING is a YA FANTASY novel that at 88,000 words, will appeal to readers of authors similar to Stephanie Meyer, Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. I am looking for the best fit for a long term relationship, not the first acceptance letter I can get for one book. It would be my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you on this project.
It is generally considered best to avoid comparing one's work to that of best-selling authors. Here you say it more indirectly (readers of authors similar to) but it still may come off as presumptuous.

Also, "fantasy" doesn't require all-caps, or even capitalization.
I’m honored to present to you AWAKENING:
Omit. Best to not say you are presenting, but simply present it.
What if it turned out that the last ten years of your life were little more than a charade? What if you suddenly realized that your favorite fantasy novel series is actually a historical documentary of your past? What if you were faced with the choice between the comfortable safety of the charade and the terrifying exhilaration of a world you would never have believed existed?
These rhetorical questions seem to slow down the query, when we should be moving directly into the description/pitch.
Suddenly thrust into a world that balances on the edge between reality and fantasy, Amanda, a modest but captivating teen, finds that everything she thought she knew was a fabrication.
This is probably what you should open the query with. And move the stuff about the book to the bottom.
As a haze, that she never realized existed, begins to lift, Amanda must come to terms with her surreal past which unveils an endless future that is nothing short of impossible. The clock is ticking and the unexpected development of strengths, powers and skills threaten to be more than one being should be capable of enduring. While being torn between two worlds of what was and what could be, Amanda finds herself in an earth-shattering yet tantalizing predicament that requires difficult choices of love and bonds. In an attempt to correct a deep-seated wrong from the past, a hidden community is drawn together in support, pulled apart in rivalry, lives are at risk and the fate of an entire race hangs in the balance of the decisions of one girl. In the first book of this series the strengths and bonds of Elvin blood versus human blood sets the stage for an imminent battle ground to be conquered by the most unlikely and least suspecting.
This is all too vague to be truly enticing and intriguing. It hints at a plenty interesting story, but lacks the characters and plot points to draw us in, thus comes across as generic. More specifics will help.
After reading my manuscript, my 12 year old son (who despises most reading at the best of times) said to me “Mom, you know how you described the Twilight series & the Percy Jackson series as being plausible fiction – not a true story, but as a reader you are able to visualize yourself as one of the characters and you can actually imagine all (or at least some) of the stuff that’s happening as being possible, like it could be real, like maybe it could actually happen to someone {I nodded in agreement} … well, you pulled it off.” He then added “By the way, you’d better hurry up and finish book two, because I’m not too happy that your ending left me wishing that I already had the next one to read.”

My apologies, I understand that “testimonials” are not something that are normally included in a query letter (especially from a family member). But the words of my son were so profound, primarily because of his personality and his natural aversion to reading in general, that there is no other way to say them and they would be empty and meaningless coming directly from myself. I was speechless and astounded that not only did my son "like" my book, but he was pushing me to get the second book completed (there is no way on this earth he has developed this opinion out of any loyalty to a family member - he is too plainly honest for that – it’s refreshing).
This will sink your query in terms of length and in terms of professionalism.
I have been the Publisher, and part owner, of a successful “good news only” newspaper called the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received – however, I am not a “journalist”.
An interesting resume item, and though it doesn't support your novel writing credential (it is too different), I'd still include it. But definitely drop the "I am not a journalist" line, because you are not applying for a journalist position. You're selling a novel here.
In fact, prior to launching this newspaper, I had no training, schooling or experience in the “newspaper” world. I understand deadlines, I understand marketing in the real world (as opposed to “in theory”) and I work very well under pressure. Business and literature have always been personal passions of mine and the opportunity to combine these two passions is a perfect fit for me.

My completed manuscript of AWAKENING is ready and waiting to send on your request.
Omit.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Good.

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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by ajcattapan » December 26th, 2010, 4:31 pm

Since you say you are new to writing queries, I recommend you check out the Query Shark's blog (queryshark.blogspot.com). The "Query Shark" is literary agent Janet Reid who does an awesome job of showing you what does and does not work in a query letter. Her blog should be mandatory reading for anyone who wants to query an agent.
tanyathib wrote:Dear Mr. <Agent>,

AWAKENING is a YA FANTASY novel that at 88,000 words, will appeal to readers of authors similar to Stephanie Meyer, Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. I am looking for the best fit for a long term relationship, not the first acceptance letter I can get for one book. It would be my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you on this project.

I’m honored to present to you AWAKENING:
The Query Shark (and many other agents) would tell you to cut all this and get right to your "hook." Save the title, word count, and genre for the end.
What if it turned out that the last ten years of your life were little more than a charade? What if you suddenly realized that your favorite fantasy novel series is actually a historical documentary of your past? What if you were faced with the choice between the comfortable safety of the charade and the terrifying exhilaration of a world you would never have believed existed? Most agents hate rhetorical questions, too. They tend to answer them sarcastically.

Suddenly thrust into a world that balances on the edge between reality and fantasy,Amanda, a modest but captivating teen (I'd give the specific age.), finds discovers that everything she thought she knew was a fabrication. Asa haze, that she never realized existed, begins to lift reality sets in, Amanda must come to terms with her surreal past which unveils an endless future that is nothing short of impossible.This sentence is very vague. The clock is ticking and the unexpected development of strengths, powers and skills threaten to be more than one being should be capable of enduring. While being torn between two worlds of what was and what could be, Amanda finds herself in an earth-shattering yet tantalizing predicament that requires difficult choices of love and bonds. In an attempt to correct a deep-seated wrong from the past, a hidden community is drawn together in support, pulled apart in rivalry, lives are at risk and the fate of an entire race hangs in the balance of the decisions of one girl. In the first book of this series the strengths and bonds of Elvin (There are elves in this story? Where did they come from?) blood versus human blood sets the stage for an imminent battle ground to be conquered by the most unlikely and least suspecting.

You're starting to get to the good stuff with the previous paragraph, but I think you'll need to be much more specific. You tell us a little about your protagonist Amanda, but what makes her so captivating. Why are we going to care about her? (If it helps, ask your son why he liked her, but don't mention him specifically in your letter.) Then tell us exactly what difficult situation she is put in and what choices she'll need to make as a result of that situation.

Focus on these questions:

What is it your MC wants more than anything else in the world?
What's stopping your MC from getting that?
What is the choice your MC needs to make?
And what bad thing will happen if your MC doesn't succeed?


After reading my manuscript, my 12 year old son (who despises most reading at the best of times) said to me “Mom, you know how you described the Twilight series & the Percy Jackson series as being plausible fiction – not a true story, but as a reader you are able to visualize yourself as one of the characters and you can actually imagine all (or at least some) of the stuff that’s happening as being possible, like it could be real, like maybe it could actually happen to someone {I nodded in agreement} … well, you pulled it off.” He then added “By the way, you’d better hurry up and finish book two, because I’m not too happy that your ending left me wishing that I already had the next one to read.”

My apologies, I understand that “testimonials” are not something that are normally included in a query letter (especially from a family member). But the words of my son were so profound, primarily because of his personality and his natural aversion to reading in general, that there is no other way to say them and they would be empty and meaningless coming directly from myself. I was speechless and astounded that not only did my son "like" my book, but he was pushing me to get the second book completed (there is no way on this earth he has developed this opinion out of any loyalty to a family member - he is too plainly honest for that – it’s refreshing).


I'm sorry, but I'm afraid the previous two paragraphs need to go. It's great that your son loved your story! Unfortunately, agents only care if they like the story.

AWAKENING is a YA fantasy, complete at 88,000 words.

I have been the Publisher, and part owner, of a successful “good news only” newspaper called the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received – however, I am not a “journalist”. In fact, prior to launching this newspaper, I had no training, schooling or experience in the “newspaper” world. I understand deadlines, I understand marketing in the real world (as opposed to “in theory”) and I work very well under pressure. Business and literature have always been personal passions of mine and the opportunity to combine these two passions is a perfect fit for me. Cut this way down. Perhaps something like: For the past six years, I have been the publisher, part-owner, and occasional writer for the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada. This is the my first novel.

My completed manuscript of AWAKENING is ready and waiting to send on your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau
I hope that helps. You probably have a great fantasy story here. Unfortunately, as it stands, your query letter is not giving us the chance to see what your novel is really all about.

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Holly
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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by Holly » December 26th, 2010, 5:39 pm

tanyathib wrote:Dear Mr. <Agent>,

Your query is two pages and 720 words, plus you will need to add your contact info, plus the agent’s address if you send queries by snail-mail. You should edit this down to one page and 250-350 words, including all contact info.

I would stop here and do some serious query research -- Nathan Bransford has many suggestions and examples. Check his home page. You can also look at Query Tracker, Guide to Literary Agents, and dozens of other sites.

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/bl ... Agent.aspx


AWAKENING is a YA fantasy FANTASY novel that at 88,000 words, will appeal to readers of authors similar to Stephenie Stephanie Meyer, Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling. Not good to compare your work to blockbusters, plus this doesn't quite make sense -- since you refer to authors similar to Meyer, etc., I would name those authors instead of the famous ones.

I would cut all of the following -- it comes across as somewhat arrogant and unrealistic, probably not what you intended at all. Unfortunately, you are in line with thousands of other writers.
I am looking for the best fit for a long term relationship, not the first acceptance letter I can get for one book. It would be my pleasure to have the opportunity to work with you on this project.

You already named the novel above. I’m honored to present to you AWAKENING:

A lot of agents don't like rhetorical questions. I would work the important ones into the narrative. What if it turned out that the last ten years of your life were little more than a charade? What if you suddenly realized that your favorite fantasy novel series is actually a historical documentary of your past? What if you were faced with the choice between the comfortable safety of the charade and the terrifying exhilaration of a world you would never have believed existed?

This is a lot of emotional language where you talk around the story, but I can't understand what actually happens. What's the plot? You are also telling and not showing. If Amanda is a modest but captivating teen, show us her modesty and how captivating she is in a sentence -- don't tell us.
Suddenly thrust into a world that balances on the edge between reality and fantasy, Amanda, a modest but captivating teen, finds that everything she thought she knew was a fabrication. As a haze, that she never realized existed, begins to lift, Amanda must come to terms with her surreal past which unveils an endless future that is nothing short of impossible. The clock is ticking and the unexpected development of strengths, powers and skills threaten to be more than one being should be capable of enduring. While being torn between two worlds of what was and what could be, Amanda finds herself in an earth-shattering yet tantalizing predicament that requires difficult choices of love and bonds. In an attempt to correct a deep-seated wrong from the past, a hidden community is drawn together in support, pulled apart in rivalry, lives are at risk and the fate of an entire race hangs in the balance of the decisions of one girl. In the first book of this series the strengths and bonds of Elvin blood versus human blood sets the stage for an imminent battle ground to be conquered by the most unlikely and least suspecting.

No, no, no. You wouldn't give the opinion of your 12-year-old if you were applying for an office job, so don't do it here. It's unprofessional. Don't do it. After reading my manuscript, my 12 year old son (who despises most reading at the best of times) said to me “Mom, you know how you described the Twilight series & the Percy Jackson series as being plausible fiction – not a true story, but as a reader you are able to visualize yourself as one of the characters and you can actually imagine all (or at least some) of the stuff that’s happening as being possible, like it could be real, like maybe it could actually happen to someone {I nodded in agreement} … well, you pulled it off.” He then added “By the way, you’d better hurry up and finish book two, because I’m not too happy that your ending left me wishing that I already had the next one to read.”

My apologies, I understand that “testimonials” are not something that are normally included in a query letter (especially from a family member). But the words of my son were so profound, primarily because of his personality and his natural aversion to reading in general, that there is no other way to say them and they would be empty and meaningless coming directly from myself. I was speechless and astounded that not only did my son "like" my book, but he was pushing me to get the second book completed (there is no way on this earth he has developed this opinion out of any loyalty to a family member - he is too plainly honest for that – it’s refreshing).


I have been the Publisher, and part owner, of a successful “good news only” newspaper calledthe Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last six 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in itthat have been well received – The agent doesn't care about the rest of this, just your pub credits. however, I am not a “journalist”. In fact, prior to launching this newspaper, I had no training, schooling or experience in the “newspaper” world. I understand deadlines, I understand marketing in the real world (as opposed to “in theory”) and I work very well under pressure. Business and literature have always been personal passions of mine and the opportunity to combine these two passions is a perfect fit for me.

My completed manuscript of AWAKENING is ready and waiting to send on your request.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau

{I have read that my additive referencing my son is typically a 'no-no' but I am honestly stuck on how to portray the 'essence' of that bit in a different way. Any thoughts? My son even put "help encouraging my Mom finish her 2nd book" as an item on his Christmas list! Awwww.}

{Also, I know I'm new to this site and have not yet been 'active' throughout the forums, but I'm also very new to writing and don't really feel that I have the experience to offer the valueable feedback that most people would be looking for in this forum as of yet - I hope that's ok.}
Best of luck to you. Keep working at this and the query will improve. Devote some serious research to it.

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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by Holly » December 27th, 2010, 8:14 am

Hello, here are a couple of really helpful articles:

http://www.guidetoliteraryagents.com/bl ... osals.aspx

Wednesday, February 03, 2010
How to Trim Your Query to 250 Words (or Fewer): Advice from Agent Janet Reid
Posted by Chuck

Your ability to write a query that does your novel justice can make or break your chances of landing an agent. Reid recommends spending two months perfecting this 250-word marvel.

Your query encompasses three sections:
1. 100 words answering the question “What is the book about?”
2. A brief summary of your writing credits, if you have them.
3. Miscellaneous information on how you found the agent or why you chose him/her.

(the article continues with many details)


And here's another good one:

http://querytracker.blogspot.com/2009/0 ... -that.html

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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 27th, 2010, 11:34 pm

Thank you all so very much! I was quite nervous to post my query for feedback 1) because it's my first one and 2) because I knew it wasn't great but just couldn't put my finger on it! But your collective feedback has been truly kind, professional and helpful. I've been shocked at how difficult the query letter has been to write and I have read so many sites on the dos and don'ts of queries that I've been going cross-eyed - it's literally taken me about 8 times as long to write my first (not so great) query as it took to do the first draft of my book. Rather frustrating actually lol.

One thing I've really been stuck on is how much to "give away" basically, do I include spoilers at this stage? - I think your feedback gives me a bit more insight on that point, so I will be going back through all the points in detail, diving into the recommended reading and taking another stab at it.

A comment on the "elves" lol yes there are elves and that was actually the point I was most unsure about revealing as it is one of the biggest revelations in the book, however, for 3/4 of the book and all of the subsequent books, the elvin village and race is the entire setting.

Amanda is in fact an elf but due to a childhood tragedy her parents fled the elvin village with her and have been living in the human world for the last 10 years. The magnitude of the tragedy (Amanda's twin sister was kidnapped by evil forces) resulted in Amanda having amnesia as her brain's defense against the loss of her twin as well as the separation from her elvin mate when her parents took her to the human world. Her parents have just found out that if they don't return her to the elvin village before her 16th birthday then she will forfeit her elvin life (and immortality) and have to remain human - this is the start point of the book, Amanda and her parents returning to the elvin village. However, Amanda does not know that she (or her parents) are elves and doesn't actually find out until chapter 4. Eventually Amanda's memories return to her and she embarks on the Awakening process that all elves must go through. Normally the Awakening process is something that just happens for the elves, but because of Amanda having been in the human world for the last 10 years her circumstances are different and her Awakening process is actually a choice she needs to make. She ends up having to make choices between the human world and the elvin world and between her human boyfriend and her elvin 'mate'. These choices will ultimately lead to whether or not she will accept the responsibility of seeking out and saving her twin sister. Because of the aging difference between the human world and the elvin world, the lead up to her Awakening process is extremely difficult as her magical essence attempts to catch up to her accelerated physical development and she experiences some really intense challenges in developing her mana (magic). One of the other realities that Amanda must accept is that she will develop into an extremely powerful elf and combined with her sister, the twins would be the salvation of the elvin race. Without the twins, the elvin race is at serious risk of dark forces dominating them leading to possible extinction.

A couple of clarification points - these elves are not like santa's (lol), they look very much human, the physical differences are rather subtle. Amanda is the main character's human name and when she learns that she is an elf and chooses to accept it, she reverts to her elvin name of Amanae. The book is written in first person from Amanda/Amanae's POV - I wasn't sure if the summary should then also be written in first person form or narrative form.

Also, on the note of referencing other authors - that was actually a point that several sites recommended doing to give the agent a feel for the relevant audience - it's not to suggest that I'm comparing my ability to those authors, simply that the audience who reads those types of novels is the audience that my novel is targeted at - any suggestions on how best to portray that? I also haven't read any other authors that I would say are similar to these that I've mentioned and if I do name a less well known author am I not at risk of some agents not being familiar with the work of a rather low profile author?

With as much research and reading that I've been doing I really haven't been able to find much guidance on the specifics of the query summary, most of it seems to be so general, or specific feedback on other people's queries, which I've had a hard time adapting to my own story. But like I said at the beginning of this, I am now off to read the additional sites that you have all been so generous to provide.

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REVISION 2: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 28th, 2010, 5:46 am

...

VERSION 2
So I’m back, having spent the last several hours reading, reading, revising, reading some more, revising some more..... and I have a revision for you. I have found a ton of contradicting opinions on the general form/format of the query letter (should well known titles be referenced or not; should you give your reason for querying a particular agent or not; should you ask if you can send them more or not) - so I've gone with the format that seems to have received the most votes throughout the numerous sites/blogs/posts that I have been reading.

After many more hours of reading and revising, and since there have been no further comments on this thread I decided to simply edit this post with my latest revision. Please let me know what you think.

Dear [Agent name],

Although Amanda, an average fifteen year old, is unaware of her childhood prior to her sixth birthday, due to tragedy induced amnesia, she lives a content, modern day life with simple dreams for a future with the love of her life, Jordan. But when her parents unexpectedly announce that they are moving her back to her childhood village, her world is turned upside down. Suddenly exposed to a world of magic and immortality that she had no idea existed, Amanda faces the challenge to find it within her heart to accept her Elven origins and forgive the unwitting error of her parents good intentions from ten years ago when they removed her from the village because of the tragedy.

As her past fights to break through her protective amnesia, Amanda braves the physically demanding, concentrated development of her own magic, in an intense, life threatening struggle to reach her sixteenth birthday, a key milestone for every elf. To further complicate matters, Amanda finds her heart and loyalties torn between her human boyfriend Jordan and her Elven soul mate Caelsah. But at the end of the day will she have anything left to enable her to resolve her childhood tragedy that left her feeling so utterly empty and incomplete that it resulted in amnesia ten years ago? If not, could it mean the end of her Elven race?

As the first book in this series, AWAKENING, is a YA novel complete at 88,000 words. I chose to submit to you because of your stated interest in YA novels and because I was drawn to your straight-forward, respectful approach that you publicly portray towards writers.

I have been the Publisher and part owner of the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received. This is my first novel.

As per your guidelines, my first chapter is included below. May I send you my manuscript for further review?

Thank you for your time and consideration, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau
<phone number>
<email address>
<mailing address>
Last edited by tanyathib on August 6th, 2011, 6:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by ajcattapan » December 29th, 2010, 1:44 pm

Tanya,

Good for you! This is quite the improvement over your first try. Writing a good query is very hard, and I think most authors find it harder than writing the actually manuscript. I've tried playing around with your revision to make it even a little tighter. I think you can get the first two paragraphs under 200 words by paring down a few of the "wordier" sentences.
tanyathib wrote:
Dear [Agent name],

Although Amanda, an average fifteen year old, is unaware of her childhood prior to her sixth birthday, due to tragedy induced amnesia, she lives a content, modern day life with simple dreams for a future with the love of her life, Jordan. But when her parents unexpectedly announce that they are moving her back to her childhood village, her world is turned upside down. Due to tragedy-induced amnesia, fifteen-year-old Amanda remembers nothing prior to her sixth birthday. (I think this is a tighter "hook" line.) She lives a content life with simple dreams for a future with her boyfriend Jordan until her parents unexpectedly announce they are moving her back to her childhood village. Suddenly exposed to a world of magic and immortality that she had no ideanever knew existed, Amanda faces the challenge to find it within her heart to accept her Elven origins and forgive the unwitting error of her parents good intentions from ten years ago when they removed her from the village because of the tragedy. must decide whether or not to accept her Elven origins and forgive her parents for removing her from her birthplace ten years ago.

As her past fights to break through her protective amnesia, Amanda braves the physically demanding, concentrated development of her own magic, in an intense, life-threatening struggle to reach her sixteenth birthday, a key milestone for every elf. (Can you be more specific? Perhaps give an example of what she must do to become an elf that is so life-threatening?) To further complicate matters, Amanda finds her heart and loyalties torn between her human boyfriend Jordan and her Elven soul mate Caelsah.But at the end of the day will she have anything left to enable her to resolve her childhood tragedy that left her feeling so utterly empty and incomplete that it resulted in amnesia ten years ago? If not, could it mean the end of her Elven race? If she returns to the human world, she’ll lose her powers and become mortal, but staying in the Elven world means facing the tragedy that left her with amnesia and giving up the only world she really remembers. (I'm kind of faking it here with these last two lines, but my research indicates that agents prefer a straightforward, if-this-then-that sentence as opposed to questions.)

As the first book in this series,AWAKENING is a YA novelfantasy complete at 88,000 words. Although it is a stand-alone novel, it has potential for a series. I chose to submit to you because of your stated interest in YA novels and because I was drawn to your straight-forward, respectful approach that you publicly portray towards writers.

I have been the Publisher and part owner of the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years and have written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received. This is my first novel. (Much better!)

As per your guidelines, my first chapter is included below. May I send you my manuscript for further review?

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you soon. (I crossed out the last two lines simply because the Query Shark tends to get snarky about them. Of course she'll ask for the whole manuscript if she's interested! And you won't look forward to hearing from her if it's a form rejection! Plus, deleting them lowers your total word count.)

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau
<phone number>
<email address>
<mailing address>
Like I said at the beginning, great improvement!

tanyathib
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Re: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 29th, 2010, 2:25 pm

@ajcattapan thank you so much!!! Your suggestions are terrific and I completely "get" what you saying. I will definitely work through this to implement the tightening you portray! It is so nice and refreshing to get an outsiders perspective.

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REVISION 3: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 31st, 2010, 1:39 am

...

VERSION 3
Thanks again for all of the wonderful suggestions, I've received many from a couple of other forums to. The result of much reading, pondering, brainstorming and re-writing is the following revised QL. Please let me know what you think.

Dear {Agent Name}

Suddenly exposed to a world of magic she had no idea existed, Amanda must now try to accept her Elven origins and forgive the mistake of her parents’ good intentions to protect her, following a life altering tragedy ten years ago. An average fifteen year old unaware of her past, Amanda lives a content life and is completely devoted to her boyfriend Jordan. But everything changes when her parents unexpectedly announce that they are moving her back to the forests of British Columbia where she was born.

As years of dormant magic manifest within a few months, it’s no wonder that Amanda is confused between her dreams and her reality, since she’s passed out as often as she’s awake. It quickly becomes clear that she may not be physically capable of withstanding her own powers. To further complicate matters, Amanda finds her heart and loyalties torn between her human boyfriend Jordan and her Elven soul mate Caelsah. If she returns to the human world, she’ll lose her powers, become mortal and leave her Elven race in grave danger, but staying in the Elven world means risking her own life, confronting her childhood tragedy and giving up the only world she really remembers.

AWAKENING, is a YA novel complete at 88,000 words with series potential. I chose to submit to you because of your stated interest in YA novels and quite simply I was drawn to your straight-forward, respectful approach that you publicly portray towards writers.

I have been the Publisher and part owner of the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years, though this experience would primarily be relevant to the ‘business’ side of being an author. I have also written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received. This is my first novel.

As per your guidelines, my first chapter is included below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau
<contact info>
Last edited by tanyathib on August 6th, 2011, 6:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: REVISED: Query: Awakening

Post by ajcattapan » December 31st, 2010, 5:59 pm

Tanya,

This just keeps getting better and better! Would you mind sharing what other forums you received feedback in? I might just try out mine over there, too. :)
tanyathib wrote:Thanks again for all of the wonderful suggestions, I've received many from a couple of other forums to. The result of much reading, pondering, brainstorming and re-writing is the following revised QL. Please let me know what you think.

Dear {Agent Name}

Suddenly exposed to a world of magic she had no idea existed, Amanda must now try to accept her Elven origins and forgive the mistake of her parents’ good intentions to protect her, following a life-altering ("life-altering" needs to be a hyphenated adjective here.) tragedy ten years ago. An average fifteen year old unaware of her past, Amanda lives a content life and is completely devoted to her boyfriend Jordan. But everything changes when her parents unexpectedly announce that they are moving her back to the forests of British Columbia where she was born. This is good, but I think it would be easier to follow in chronological order.

As years of dormant magic manifest within a few months, it’s no wonder that Amanda is confused between her dreams and her reality, since she’s passed out as often as she’s awake. It quickly becomes clear that she may not be physically capable of withstanding her own powers. To further complicate matters, Amanda finds her heart and loyalties torn between her human boyfriend Jordan and her Elven soul mate Caelsah. If she returns to the human world, she’ll lose her powers, become mortal and leave her Elven race in grave danger, but staying in the Elven world means risking her own life, confronting her childhood tragedy and giving up the only world she really remembers. (Yes, I like this much better! Easier to understand what's at stake and why it's difficult for her to make the transition from human life to Elven powers.)

AWAKENING,(No comma here) is a YA novel complete at 88,000 words with series potential. I chose to submit to you because of your stated interest in YA novels and quite simply I was drawn to your straight-forward, respectful approach that you publicly portray towards writers.

I have been the Publisher and part owner of the Gateway Gazette in Southern Alberta, Canada for the last 6 years, though this experience would primarily be relevant to the ‘business’ side of being an author. I have also written several pieces for inclusion in it that have been well received. This is my first novel.

As per your guidelines, my first chapter is included below.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Tanya Thibodeau
<contact info>

tanyathib
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Re: REVISED: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » December 31st, 2010, 8:41 pm

Thanks ... AJ (is that what I should call you? lol)

No problem on the other forums, there's three others I've been following:

www.authonomy.com - this has been a slower moving and quieter forum site, however, it has also been a bit better quality in the couple of responses I've received (one in particular from a published author,which surprised me, guess I just assumed that most people in the forums were unpublished); it's also received some good reviews throughout other areas of the web.

www.writers.net - this has been an interesting forum, lots of activity, some very decent feedback for sure, but I was starting to question some of the advice, so I started posting different variations, different styles and asking leading questions. To be honest, I was starting to feel as though some of the posters were doing little more than trying to pump me for a whole lot more "details and specifics" about my particular book and story and a more recent response kind of confirmed that. But that's fine for me as I'm not particularly naive, actually their style of questioning and advice is quite informative in itself.

I guess you could say I have some trust issues - lol - everybody is out to steal my precious! lol

http://forum.writersdigest.com - is the third site; this one is in between the last two for activity and probably for quality as well (more active than authonomy but definitely better quality than writers.net), and thus far I haven't had any feelings of being pumped for info.

To draw a comparison with this site... I'd probably say that this one has been the best. It's more active than authonomy and the quality of feedback is better than writers.net for sure and a bit better than writersdigest although they're close to par.

I'll also have a wander over to your query as well and have a peek. I haven't been venturing much into other people's posts, mainly based on my own insecurity I guess - didn't really feel that qualified to offer advice. But I've recently started doing a 'silent' review - lol - basically, when a new post comes up with no comments, I type out my opinions on what I read but don't post it, then wait to see what the more seasoned members have to say. So far, most of the thoughts I had typed out were pretty much bang on with what others ended up saying, so I thought that was pretty cool.

I have done another version of my summary too - I'm thinking I'll probably end up using different ones based on the different agents I submit to as there are definitely differences in what each agent is looking for or prefers etc.

Anyway, what's your thoughts on this one?

Ten years ago Amanda’s parents made an unwitting mistake out of love. They hid her Elven origins from her, following a life-altering tragedy. Throughout a decade of amnesia, triggered by magic, Amanda was a normal girl in a normal world. With her memory restored, and the illusion of being an average fifteen year old gone, she must now adjust to a world where everything she thought was fantasy is real. Now, she must make a monumental decision. On one hand, the only world she really remembers promises security, normality and the love of her human boyfriend. On the other, the world of the elves promises magic, excitement and danger. Even more unsettling, it contains an Elven boy named Caelsah, whose continual appearance in her dreams begins to suggest a deeper connection.

Her choice must be made and made quickly, because danger is escalating. The wrong decision could bring disaster, for Amanda and for everyone in the Elven world.

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Re: REVISED: Query: Awakening

Post by allegedauthor » January 5th, 2011, 9:15 pm

I just have one question: what will happen if Amanda stays? What is she fighting against? You give a great background of her but what will be the ultimate trial? Is it just the love triangle or something darker? Also, you might want to insert Amanda's last name into the query. :)

I think this could be a really great idea! You put a new spin on an old topic and that's what agents love to sell! Good luck!

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REVISION 4: Query: Awakening

Post by tanyathib » August 3rd, 2011, 2:46 am

...

VERSION 4
Hi all, my apologies for having gone dark for awhile, my day job really got out of control lol.

Anyway, I've been back at it and it was rather fun to read through all your comments again and all the mistakes I've been making lol.

I've got a brand spanking new version of my query and I can't wait to hear your feedback!

Dear Ms./Mr. Agent,

Fifteen-year-old Amanda is inconsolable when she accidently overhears the fact she has an abducted twin sister. She is flabbergasted when her parents confess she’s actually an eighty-four-year-old elf with the ability to possess immense magical powers.

Faced with a desire to finally develop some talent and master some skills, Amanda takes on an uncharacteristic recklessness that kicks up the intensity meter several notches. Making an already dangerous, magical development more life threatening than she realizes.

Her new found competitive urge is further jeopardized by some serious focus issues as Amanda also battles some inner turmoil in the love arena. Prior to her reality shifting dreams and her undesired relocation to an Elven village, Amanda’s heart was set on a life with Jordan.

But her rediscovered identity brings to life the intense and arrogant “Beauty Boy” that has been permeating her dreams.

Amanda grits her teeth every time Caelsah swoops in for the rescue with an air of triumph in his smirk. Yet that doesn’t stop her whole insides from taking roller-coaster dives every time his smoldering, electric-blue eyes penetrate hers. Which causes an immediate reaction of guilt as Amanda berates her body for betraying her love of Jordan.

She’s quick to realize that the path of her destiny is at odds with the desires of her heart. Torn between the loyalties of family and a deep seated love of Jordan, Amanda’s divided focus puts everything at risk. Not just her own life or her sister’s life, but it also enables a higher possibility of both the human world and the Elven world facing inescapable tyranny at the hands of her sister’s abductors.

AWAKENING is an 88,000 word YA novel. It's the first installment of a planned trilogy, yet is quite capable of standing on its own. AWAKENING is my first novel. My day job is contributing writer / owner / publisher of (redacted) which was started from scratch in 2004 and enjoys a loyal readership.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Name
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Last edited by tanyathib on August 6th, 2011, 6:14 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: NEWLY REVISED: Query: Awakening

Post by JMB » August 3rd, 2011, 10:49 am

Dear Tanya, I think you need to reconsider your opening. You call this a YA book but I don't think teens want to read about an eight-year-old trapped in a 15 y-old's body. Maybe it works in the book--gives her extreme wisdom or something in addition to stronger magical powers--or maybe that isn't old for an elf. In the query it sounds off. Something to think about ... JMB

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