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Author Topic: The Shipping Magnate - historical romance (paranormal?)  (Read 104 times)
Catharina S
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« on: October 11, 2018, 09:30:49 PM »

This may be the tenth draft of my query letter (I sent out a few queries with the previous version, but started to rethink it). I read somewhere that your query should reflect the style of the actual MS, so it looks a little different than the snappy queries for works with contemporary/non-romance settings. But my main concern is whether it will grab the attention of an agent interested in historical romance with a fantasy/paranormal flair (I'm having a time trying to work out the genre so any suggestions to that effect will be helpful as well!)
***

Lady Felina Abbandonato has resigned herself to spinsterhood, and her resolution is an unburdening. Instantly deemed a prize to be won by every man who sees her, she fears being rejected for the strange physical trait which she carefully hides. The possible revelation of these features proves to be of no consequence, for she can summon nothing beyond altruism for any of them. Her decision will at least eliminate the likelihood of a future husband taking from her things she values most: the inheritance of her father’s business, her thirst for knowledge, and her Catholic faith. The pressure of being incessantly pursued finally sets her to flee to university in Italy.
 
Upon her return to London three years later, she discovers Gareth Kingsley in the salon of her parents’ town home, just returned from his own years-long sojourn to the continent. Once her tutoring companion and her father’s ward, he has amassed a fortune in the shipping industry. This first meeting develops into a courtship. She finds herself deeply drawn to him, despite his agnosticism, strange quirks and stranger anecdotes. Gareth is fascinated with her to the exclusion of all other women, and far from wanting to change her, encourages her interests and delights in her talent.

 The pair reveal to one another not only shared personality traits, but also deeply-held secrets, which hint at a common origin. An impulsive, illicit kiss leads to engagement and marriage. It is not until their honeymoon that Gareth, on a moonlit night in the waters of the Mediterranean, reveals their shared identities: both are mythological creatures, once believed to be gods, and the last known of their kind.

As Gareth explains their existence and purpose, the truth of the corruption and treachery of his kind is made manifest. Felina’s inability to completely trust anyone, and Gareth’s suppressed, feral nature disrupt their happiness. But when a colony of his long-lost kinsmen appears, their brutish inclinations lead Gareth to risk his own freedom and life in order to save his wife.
 
THE SHIPPING MAGNATE is a 115,000-word paranormal romance set in late 19th century London. It will appeal to readers who have enjoyed None but You, The Lost Letter, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.
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TigerAsh
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« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2018, 02:07:38 AM »

This may be the tenth draft of my query letter (I sent out a few queries with the previous version, but started to rethink it). I read somewhere that your query should reflect the style of the actual MS, so it looks a little different than the snappy queries for works with contemporary/non-romance settings. But my main concern is whether it will grab the attention of an agent interested in historical romance with a fantasy/paranormal flair (I'm having a time trying to work out the genre so any suggestions to that effect will be helpful as well!)
***

Lady Felina Abbandonato has resigned herself to spinsterhood, and her resolution is an unburdening. Instantly deemed a prize to be won by every man who sees her, she fears being rejected for the strange physical trait which she carefully hides. The possible revelation of these features proves to be of no consequence, for she can summon nothing beyond altruism for any of them. Her decision will at least eliminate the likelihood of a future husband taking from her things she values most: the inheritance of her father’s business, her thirst for knowledge, and her Catholic faith. The pressure of being incessantly pursued finally sets her to flee to university in Italy.
 
Upon her return to London three years later, she discovers Gareth Kingsley in the salon of her parents’ town home, just returned from his own years-long sojourn to the continent. Once her tutoring companion and her father’s ward, he has amassed a fortune in the shipping industry. This first meeting develops into a courtship. She finds herself deeply drawn to him, despite his agnosticism, strange quirks and stranger anecdotes. Gareth is fascinated with her to the exclusion of all other women, and far from wanting to change her, encourages her interests and delights in her talent.

 The pair reveal to one another not only shared personality traits, but also deeply-held secrets, which hint at a common origin. An impulsive, illicit kiss leads to engagement and marriage. It is not until their honeymoon that Gareth, on a moonlit night in the waters of the Mediterranean, reveals their shared identities: both are mythological creatures, once believed to be gods, and the last known of their kind.

As Gareth explains their existence and purpose, the truth of the corruption and treachery of his kind is made manifest. Felina’s inability to completely trust anyone, and Gareth’s suppressed, feral nature disrupt their happiness. But when a colony of his long-lost kinsmen appears, their brutish inclinations lead Gareth to risk his own freedom and life in order to save his wife.
 
THE SHIPPING MAGNATE is a 115,000-word paranormal romance set in late 19th century London. It will appeal to readers who have enjoyed None but You, The Lost Letter, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.




I think as it stands, the query letter reads a bit too ... complex. What I mean by that is, you want the query letter to reflect the style of your manuscript--to an extent. The most important thing is that you write a clear and concise letter that tells the reader what the story is about. It should do that in a simple way, while still getting the tone of the story across to the reader. Then if the reader is interested, they will look at the sample pages or request the manuscript; that's when they can access what your writing style actually is. Right now, this seems less like a query letter and more like a flowery summary.

It's hard for me personally to do a line-by-line edit at this stage, only because it feels like the entire query letter just needs to be simplified. So I suggest you try rewriting this and focus on telling us who your main character is; what goal they are trying to achieve; what obstacles they will have to overcome to achieve that goal; and what happens if they fail (or succeed). Ultimately, you want to build up the stakes, and leave the reader dying to know what happens!



And as a side note: I recommend you try to get your story as close to 100,000 words as possible. Agents/editors typically want a debut novel that are under 100,000 words (although fantasy can sometimes get away with a little more than that).



Hope my comments help. Good luck. Smiley
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Pineapplejuice
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2018, 10:13:43 AM »



Lady Felina Abbandonato has resigned herself to spinsterhood, and her resolution is an unburdening ( Is unburdening a word? ) Instantly deemed a prize to be won by every man who sees her, she fears being rejected for the strange physical trait which she carefully hides. ( Now I'm confused. I thought she was resigned to spinsterhood? And felt unburdened in that decision? But now you say she's afraid of rejection? ) The possible revelation of these features ( this is the second time you've mentioned her strange physical trait but it's uninteresting because you haven't shared what it is. ) proves to be of no consequence, for she can summon nothing beyond altruism for any of them ( 'them'? I thought it was one strange physical trait? ) . Her decision ( What decision? ) will at least eliminate the likelihood of a future husband taking from her things she values most: the inheritance of her father’s business, her thirst for knowledge, and her Catholic faith. The pressure of being incessantly pursued finally sets her to flee to university in Italy. ( All you've said so far is that she's a spinster who will inherit her fathers business one day, and since she's got strange physical traits she decides to pursue an education in Italy instead of marry. I think being clearer will hold the agents attention better. This was confusing to read, not only the contradiction in the characters motivation but how wordy it is. It looks like in trying to manufacture and olde world voice you're losing the ability to be direct. It's makes me think the pages will be like this: faux historical. I assume they aren't, because I know queries are hard to write and bring out the worst in our writing because you have to convey plot and that's hard, but I'd stick to clear. It seems like your main focus has been keeping to the style of your novel, but I don't think it's working here at this point )
 
Upon her return to London three years later, ( This makes me worry about the book. That it's not starting where the story starts, since she goes to Italy and nothing happens there. I wonder why you're mentioning it?  How many pages does the suitor situation and trip to Italy take up? ) she discovers Gareth Kingsley in the salon of her parents’ town home, just returned from his own years-long sojourn to the continent. Once her tutoring companion and her father’s ward, he has amassed a fortune in the shipping industry. This first meeting develops into a courtship. ( if he was her fathers ward, isn't he like her brother? )  She finds herself deeply drawn to him, despite his agnosticism, strange quirks and stranger anecdotes ( and despite the fact she's always viewed him as a brother ) . Gareth is fascinated with her to the exclusion of all other women, and far from wanting to change her, encourages her interests and delights in her talent.( This is nice for them but there's no plot unfolding, or stakes happening )

 The pair reveal to one another not only shared personality traits, but also deeply-held secrets, which hint at a common origin. An impulsive, illicit kiss leads to engagement and marriage. It is not until their honeymoon that Gareth, on a moonlit night in the waters of the Mediterranean, reveals their shared identities: both are mythological creatures, once believed to be gods, and the last known of their kind. ( WHAT?!?! Lol sorry but I didn't remember what genre this was and assumed it was historical romance. Checking now. Oh I see. You need to get to this bit a lot faster because it doesn't read as paranormal to me at all until this bit. Having said that. The fact they are mythological creatures is interesting but it's not a plot. I'm wondering if everything til this point is just set up? Because this feels like the point where the story starts, but here the query ends and we don't get to find out about what challenges they face together, what's at risk or at stake, etc. )

As Gareth explains their existence and purpose, ( Just tell us what that is briefly as what you've said hasn't told us anything ) the truth of the corruption and treachery of his kind is made manifest ( what is it? That's where the stakes are I imagine but you're not letting me know about it ) . Felina’s inability to completely trust anyone, and Gareth’s suppressed, feral nature disrupt their happiness. But when a colony of his long-lost kinsmen appears, their brutish inclinations lead Gareth to risk his own freedom and life in order to save his wife. ( This is where the plot is but it's just tacked on. And we don't feel the stakes because the situation is not explained enough )  Grin
 
THE SHIPPING MAGNATE is a 115,000-word paranormal romance set in late 19th century London. It will appeal to readers who have enjoyed None but You, The Lost Letter, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.



This query has waaaay to much set up where nothing plotty happens. I know you're trying to help us connect with the character but it made me feel like the book had no plot. Only near the end of the query do I realise your book does have a plot, but we don't get to read about it.


Also, you left out the most interesting bit. What sort of mythological creature are they, and how does it affect their lives?   It seems like they are pretty happy until the ship of kinsmen comes. Why does the husband get so easily led away...and what is it the kinsmen are doing? Is he immortal? Is there no reason to worry about him getting hurt etc?


I think the mythological creatures in victorian london is really interesting and I think you should get to that point faster.  Grin
« Last Edit: October 13, 2018, 10:19:17 AM by Pineapplejuice » Logged
Catharina S
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« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 11:36:43 AM »



Lady Felina Abbandonato has resigned herself to spinsterhood, and her resolution is an unburdening ( Is unburdening a word? ) Instantly deemed a prize to be won by every man who sees her, she fears being rejected for the strange physical trait which she carefully hides. ( Now I'm confused. I thought she was resigned to spinsterhood? And felt unburdened in that decision? But now you say she's afraid of rejection? ) The possible revelation of these features ( this is the second time you've mentioned her strange physical trait but it's uninteresting because you haven't shared what it is. ) proves to be of no consequence, for she can summon nothing beyond altruism for any of them ( 'them'? I thought it was one strange physical trait? ) . Her decision ( What decision? ) will at least eliminate the likelihood of a future husband taking from her things she values most: the inheritance of her father’s business, her thirst for knowledge, and her Catholic faith. The pressure of being incessantly pursued finally sets her to flee to university in Italy. ( All you've said so far is that she's a spinster who will inherit her fathers business one day, and since she's got strange physical traits she decides to pursue an education in Italy instead of marry. I think being clearer will hold the agents attention better. This was confusing to read, not only the contradiction in the characters motivation but how wordy it is. It looks like in trying to manufacture and olde world voice you're losing the ability to be direct. It's makes me think the pages will be like this: faux historical. I assume they aren't, because I know queries are hard to write and bring out the worst in our writing because you have to convey plot and that's hard, but I'd stick to clear. It seems like your main focus has been keeping to the style of your novel, but I don't think it's working here at this point )
 
Upon her return to London three years later, ( This makes me worry about the book. That it's not starting where the story starts, since she goes to Italy and nothing happens there. I wonder why you're mentioning it?  How many pages does the suitor situation and trip to Italy take up? ) she discovers Gareth Kingsley in the salon of her parents’ town home, just returned from his own years-long sojourn to the continent. Once her tutoring companion and her father’s ward, he has amassed a fortune in the shipping industry. This first meeting develops into a courtship. ( if he was her fathers ward, isn't he like her brother? )  She finds herself deeply drawn to him, despite his agnosticism, strange quirks and stranger anecdotes ( and despite the fact she's always viewed him as a brother ) . Gareth is fascinated with her to the exclusion of all other women, and far from wanting to change her, encourages her interests and delights in her talent.( This is nice for them but there's no plot unfolding, or stakes happening )

 The pair reveal to one another not only shared personality traits, but also deeply-held secrets, which hint at a common origin. An impulsive, illicit kiss leads to engagement and marriage. It is not until their honeymoon that Gareth, on a moonlit night in the waters of the Mediterranean, reveals their shared identities: both are mythological creatures, once believed to be gods, and the last known of their kind. ( WHAT?!?! Lol sorry but I didn't remember what genre this was and assumed it was historical romance. Checking now. Oh I see. You need to get to this bit a lot faster because it doesn't read as paranormal to me at all until this bit. Having said that. The fact they are mythological creatures is interesting but it's not a plot. I'm wondering if everything til this point is just set up? Because this feels like the point where the story starts, but here the query ends and we don't get to find out about what challenges they face together, what's at risk or at stake, etc. )

As Gareth explains their existence and purpose, ( Just tell us what that is briefly as what you've said hasn't told us anything ) the truth of the corruption and treachery of his kind is made manifest ( what is it? That's where the stakes are I imagine but you're not letting me know about it ) . Felina’s inability to completely trust anyone, and Gareth’s suppressed, feral nature disrupt their happiness. But when a colony of his long-lost kinsmen appears, their brutish inclinations lead Gareth to risk his own freedom and life in order to save his wife. ( This is where the plot is but it's just tacked on. And we don't feel the stakes because the situation is not explained enough )  Grin
 
THE SHIPPING MAGNATE is a 115,000-word paranormal romance set in late 19th century London. It will appeal to readers who have enjoyed None but You, The Lost Letter, and The Scarlet Pimpernel.



This query has waaaay to much set up where nothing plotty happens. I know you're trying to help us connect with the character but it made me feel like the book had no plot. Only near the end of the query do I realise your book does have a plot, but we don't get to read about it.


Also, you left out the most interesting bit. What sort of mythological creature are they, and how does it affect their lives?   It seems like they are pretty happy until the ship of kinsmen comes. Why does the husband get so easily led away...and what is it the kinsmen are doing? Is he immortal? Is there no reason to worry about him getting hurt etc?


I think the mythological creatures in victorian london is really interesting and I think you should get to that point faster.  Grin

Good points. Thanks for the feedback. The story actually starts at her return from Italy,  so I guess I felt obligated to provide the background,  but if it makes it seem like this is a large part of the story (it's only referenced in conversations with her husband/mom/best friend, I guess I'd better cut to the chase!

The "them" in the first paragraph refers to her potential beaus, not to her oddities. The oddities and the identity of them as mythological creatures are both big reveals in the plot, so I was hesitant to say exactly what they are. Is it imperative? I feel as though saying it will ruin the surprise.
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