Author Topic: Urban Fantasy Query Letter  (Read 46485 times)

Offline katekquinn

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Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« on: May 25, 2009, 07:53:47 PM »
Okay, so using the patented Elana Johnson query letter writing system as broken down so wonderfully on the QT blog, I finally have a query letter that is ready for critiquing.  Any thoughts, helpful hints, or even a few hard truths would be greatly appreciated.  TIA!

Dear Agent:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs, steals a silver bracelet that not only identifies demons, but also marks her as one, it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon’s apocalyptic plans.

At thirty-two years of age Blue, the daughter of a serial killer, has spent most of her life fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the process.  Worse yet she’s living with a doofus she can’t stand, and the guy Blue can’t admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in only a few days. 

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin shows up at her door, Blue is pretty certain it has something do with the stolen bracelet that won’t come off her wrist.  Leo, the half-demon who created the tag, saves Blue and tells her the meaning of the tag- she’s probably a demon.  His mother, Lilith, also happens to be the former owner of the tag, current ruler of hell, and the likeliest suspect in the attempted murder of Blue.  While trying to figure out what Blue is, how to remove the tag, and why Lilith keeps trying to kill her they start to uncover a vast apocalyptic conspiracy that includes Blue’s live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) and her half-sister’s wedding.  And when Blue finds out that the tag is not responding to her, but rather to a demon inside of her – things only become more complicated. 

Now with a literal hell on earth pending, Blue has to fight not for destruction, but to save everyone who means anything to her.

A 100,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, is a standalone novel with series potential that should appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris’s and Janet Evanovich’s colorful female characters.

I have two lovely college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in Film and Television Production that while they have no bearing on the writing of this novel do demonstrate my ongoing loyalty to the arts.  In May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman’s World magazine.

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


PS.  Elana if you are reading this I sincerely hope that you are not banging your head against a hard surface in disbelief at my ability to screw up your awesome query writing instructions.

Offline bodwen

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2009, 08:00:34 AM »

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin shows up at her door

LOL.  I'd ask for a partial based on this line alone.

Offline claena

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2009, 08:02:15 AM »
Complicated plots are sooooo hard to distill. I honestly feel your pain on this. I actually think an outside view can give you a better perspective on what is and isn't necessary to say. But I think you have a great start!

My comments are below. Good luck with this!! The book sounds really fun.


Okay, so using the patented Elana Johnson query letter writing system as broken down so wonderfully on the QT blog, I finally have a query letter that is ready for critiquing.  Any thoughts, helpful hints, or even a few hard truths would be greatly appreciated.  TIA!

Dear Agent:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs, steals a silver bracelet that not only identifies demons, but also marks her as one, it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon’s apocalyptic plans. * I would simplify this part. Maybe just saying that it marks her as a demon. I don't think you need the identifies part. In fact, I'd say "marks its wearer as a demon" to break up the number of "hers" in the first paragraph.

At thirty-two years of age Blue, the daughter of a serial killer, has spent most of her life fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the process.  Worse yet she’s living with a doofus she can’t stand, and the guy Blue can’t admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in only a few days. 
*I think you could cut this whole paragraph. The first sentence is overly vague, and the three important facts, 1) that her dad was a serial killer, 2) that she doesn't like her current live-in, and 3) that her sister is marrying her true love, can all be incorporated into the paragraph below.

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin (Really, it's an assassin posing as a pizza boy, right?) shows up at her door, Blue is pretty certain it has something do with the stolen bracelet that won’t come off her wrist.  Leo, the half-demon who created the tag, saves Blue and tells her the meaning of the tag- she’s probably a demon.  His mother, Lilith, also happens to be the former owner of the tag, current ruler of hell, (I would switch these two descriptors, and then see what you think) and the likeliest suspect in the attempted murder of Blue.  (New paragraph here)While trying to figure out what Blue is, how to remove the tag, and why Lilith keeps trying to kill her(insert comma) they start to uncover a vast apocalyptic conspiracy that includes Blue’s live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) and her half-sister’s wedding.(Here's where I'd incorporate the stuff from paragraph 2)  And when Blue finds out that the tag is not responding to her, but rather to a demon inside of her – things only become more complicated.  I'm not sure this last sentence is necessary, and it kind of creates plot questions that might turn some people away... like, not the good kind of questions. It also breaks up the flow of the plot description with info we don't need to get to the next part.

Now with a literal hell on earth pending, Blue has to fight not for destruction, but to save everyone who means anything to her.

A 100,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, is a standalone novel with series potential that should appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris’s and Janet Evanovich’s colorful female characters.

I have two lovely college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in Film and Television Production that while they have no bearing on the writing of this novel do demonstrate my ongoing loyalty to the arts. I would cut this out. Your degrees do have a writing tie in, and most agents won't care about your ongoing loyalty to the arts (although, I love it!) In May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman’s World magazine.

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


PS.  Elana if you are reading this I sincerely hope that you are not banging your head against a hard surface in disbelief at my ability to screw up your awesome query writing instructions.
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Offline katekquinn

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2009, 08:47:10 AM »
Bodwen - LOL, thanks.  Hopefully some agents share your excellent good taste.   :wink:

Claena - Thank you so much for the in-depth crit!  Great suggestions - especially with some parts that I was already on the fence about - like that last sentence of the third paragraph.  Anyway, thank you again!

Offline justwrite

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2009, 11:27:11 AM »
I think you have a very good letter here, but I'd drop the lines like TWO LOVELY college degrees...it makes you sound snarky and takes away from your accomplishments.

Offline katekquinn

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2009, 01:07:54 PM »
Quote
I think you have a very good letter here, but I'd drop the lines like TWO LOVELY college degrees...it makes you sound snarky and takes away from your accomplishments.

Thanks JustWrite, that is good advice.  I tend to think of my degrees as the piles of student loans that I will be paying off until I die, which does make me a bit snarky about them, but this is probably not the best attitude to put on display.

Offline ElanaJ

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2009, 02:13:21 PM »
Okay, so using the patented Elana Johnson query letter writing system as broken down so wonderfully on the QT blog, I finally have a query letter that is ready for critiquing.  Any thoughts, helpful hints, or even a few hard truths would be greatly appreciated.  TIA!

First off, I can't stop laughing. "patented Elana Johnson query letter writing system". Dude, I totally need to cash in on that! You are too funny!

Dear Agent:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs, (I love this name) steals a silver bracelet that not only identifies demons, but also marks her as one, it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon’s apocalyptic plans. (I get what you're saying here, but I'm gonna agree with claena that it's a bit much. The voice, however, is spot on, so totally keep that. Consider: "When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs, steals a silver bracelet only a demon can wear (maybe "touch"?), it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon's apocalyptic plans." Maybe?)

At thirty-two years of age Blue, the daughter of a serial killer, has spent most of her life fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the process.  Worse yet she’s living with a doofus she can’t stand, and the guy Blue won’t admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in only a few days. (I have no issues with this setup. Maybe it's because of the "doofus." Cuz that's freaking hilarious.)

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin shows up at her door, Blue is pretty certain it has something do with the stolen bracelet she can't take off. that won’t come off her wrist.  Leo, the half-demon who created the tag, saves Blue and tells her why she can't remove it the meaning of the tag - she’s probably a demon.  His mother, Lilith, also happens to be the former owner of the tag, current ruler of hell, and the likeliest suspect in Blue's the attempted murder of Blue.  While trying to figure out what Blue is, how to remove the tag, and why Lilith keeps trying to kill her(comma) they start to uncover a vast apocalyptic conspiracy that includes Blue’s live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) (lol! This is awesome!) and her half-sister’s wedding.  And when Blue finds out that the tag (You've used "tag" tons of times. Can this one be bracelet?)  is not responding to her, but rather to a demon inside of her (like possessing her? If so, I'd say that.) – things only become more complicated. 

Now with a literal hell on earth pending, Blue has to fight not for destruction, but to save everyone who means anything to her. (This is not my favorite line of the query. I want the consequence to come up above where you say, "things only become more complicated." So maybe something like, "And when Blue finds out that the bracelet is not responding to her, but rather to a demon possessing her - she must fight to protect those she loves and find a way to stop the literal breaking loose of hell on earth." Or maybe that's too long and convoluted. Or something. I'm not feelin' the "fight not for destruction" or the "things become more complicated" bits.)

A 100,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, is a standalone novel with series potential that will (be brave!) should appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris’s and Janet Evanovich’s colorful female characters.

I have two lovely college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in Film and Television Production that while they have no bearing on the writing of this novel do demonstrate my ongoing loyalty to the arts.  In May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman’s World magazine.

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


PS.  Elana if you are reading this I sincerely hope that you are not banging your head against a hard surface in disbelief at my ability to screw up your awesome query writing instructions. *snarf* Hardly. It's brilliant!  :wink: Oh, and I swear I'm gonna start this today! To. Day. This is so enticing!
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My next novel, a YA contemporary novel, ELEVATED, is coming on February 18, 2014.

Visit my blog: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com

Offline katekquinn

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2009, 08:27:29 PM »
Elana thank you so much!  And you totally should think about cashing in on patenting your system for real - it could be the QueryWow or MagicQueryBullet. 

I think you are totally right about everything, but especially removing the "fight not for destruction" and "things become more complicated" - they're just way too generic little bits.

As for the should/will - I just hope that "will" falls more on the confident and not on the delusional side of the line.

Anyway, thank you again - YOU RULE!!!   :clap:

Offline violet

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2009, 08:47:34 PM »
Okay, so using the patented Elana Johnson query letter writing system as broken down so wonderfully on the QT blog, I finally have a query letter that is ready for critiquing.  Any thoughts, helpful hints, or even a few hard truths would be greatly appreciated.  TIA!

Apparently I don't know squat about what makes a good query...but personally, there was a lot here I really loved:

Dear Agent:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs, steals a silver bracelet that not only identifies demons, but also marks her as one, it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon’s apocalyptic plans. I love this and know exactly where it's going...yes, the 'marks her as one' could be better worded but still, I liked this. And I LOVE her name!

At thirty-two years of age Blue, the daughter of a serial killer, has spent most of her life fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the process.  Worse yet she’s living with a doofus she can’t stand, and the guy Blue can’t admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in only a few days. Love this too! I would just be more specific and say three days or four or whatever instead of 'a few.'

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin shows up at her door, Blue is pretty certain it has something do with the stolen bracelet that won’t come off her wrist.  Leo, the half-demon who created the tag, saves Blue and tells her the meaning of the tag- she’s probably a demon.  His mother, Lilith, also happens to be the former owner of the tag, current ruler of hell, and the likeliest suspect in the attempted murder of Blue.  While trying to figure out what Blue is, how to remove the tag, and why Lilith keeps trying to kill her they start to uncover a vast apocalyptic conspiracy that includes Blue’s live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) and her half-sister’s wedding.  And when Blue finds out that the tag is not responding to her, but rather to a demon inside of her – things only become more complicated.  I pretty much agree w/ everyone about this graph.

Now with a literal hell on earth pending, Blue has to fight not for destruction, not crazy about this sentence but to save everyone who means anything to her. I really like where you're going but I would gear this toward the end of your last graph because it's getting a little long.

A 100,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA, is a standalone novel with series potential that should appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris’s and Janet Evanovich’s colorful female characters.

I have two lovely college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in Film and Television Production that while they have no bearing on the writing of this novel do demonstrate my ongoing loyalty to the arts.   In May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman’s World magazine.

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

I think you're really close...I'm looking forward to the new version!

~V



PS.  Elana if you are reading this I sincerely hope that you are not banging your head against a hard surface in disbelief at my ability to screw up your awesome query writing instructions.

Offline katekquinn

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2009, 11:46:30 AM »
Thanks for the crit Violet.  :up:  I also appreciate the thumbs up on the name - I have a HORRIBLE time coming up with last names for characters that don't sound totally generic or absolutely ridiculous.   

Offline twoheadknight

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2009, 11:59:02 AM »

Dear Agent:

When cleaning lady and not-quite-reformed con artist, Blue Downs (I have to admit, and I don't think this is a bad thing, but this name made me snicker with happiness) , steals a silver bracelet that not only identifies demons, but also marks her as one, it puts her right at the center of a hell-demon’s apocalyptic plans (nice hook!).

At thirty-two years of age Blue, the daughter of a serial killer (maybe save this detail for the synopsis--I'm not sure how it applies in this letter), has spent most of her life fighting anyone willing to take her on, and destroying herself in the process (Literally?  Like, with fists?  I'm confused by this).  Worse yet she’s living with a doofus she can’t stand, and the guy Blue can’t admit she loves is marrying her half-sister in only a few days (oh SNAP!  This is intriguing!)

When a pizza boy posing as an assassin shows up at her door (I had to read this twice it is so awesome) , Blue is pretty certain it has something do with the stolen bracelet that won’t come off her wrist.  Leo, the half-demon who created the tag (is the tag the bracelet?) , saves Blue and tells her the meaning of the tag- she’s probably a demon.  His mother, Lilith, also happens to be the former owner of the tag, current ruler of hell (Hell), and the likeliest suspect in the attempted murder of Blue.  While trying to figure out what Blue is, how to remove the tag, and why Lilith keeps trying to kill her (whoa.  This is a confusing sentence.  May want to break this up, or omit some details) they start to uncover a vast apocalyptic (seems redundant--if it's apocalyptic, it's probably vast) conspiracy that includes Blue’s live-in boyfriend (ie: the doofus) (doofus boyfriend, maybe?)and her half-sister’s wedding.  And when Blue finds out that the tag is not responding to her, but rather to a demon inside of her – things only become more complicated ("More compliacated" doesn't have the oomph of the rest of the letter.  Maybe "things only get crazier"?)

Now with a literal hell on earth (If Hell is a place, capitalize that sucker) pending, Blue has to fight not for destruction, but to save everyone who means anything to her the people she loves (maybe).

A 100,000 word urban fantasy, BETWEEN THE DEVIL AND THE DEEP BLUE SEA (LOVE THE TITLE!) , is a standalone novel with series potential that should appeal to fans of Charlaine Harris’s and Janet Evanovich’s colorful female characters.

I have two lovely college degrees, one a BFA in theatre and the other an MFA in Film and Television Production that while they have no bearing on the writing of this novel do demonstrate my ongoing loyalty to the arts (might seem too chatty/cute for agents) .  In May of 2009 my short romantic fiction piece was published in Woman’s World magazine.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you consideration. I used to end my queries this way, too, until a bunch of agents blogged about how they hate that  :emb2:.



I hope this helps!  Your books seems AWESOME!!!  I'm excited to read it when it's published  ;D.

Offline TereLiz

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2009, 03:34:37 PM »
Can't add much about the query, but I wanted to add that the title and genre alone would make me pick up the book!

Just to get this straight:
 A pizza boy moonlighting as an assassin comes to kill her?
Or is it an assassin disguised as the pizza guy?

Cuz the second idea is cool, but the first idea is full of awesome!  ;D  And if you didn't write it that way, I think everyone on this site is going to try to call dibs on the idea.

1...2...3...

Dibs!   >:D

Offline twoheadknight

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2009, 04:01:52 PM »


1...2...3...

Dibs!   >:D

Damn you Tereliiiiz! *shakes fist*  :wink:

Offline katekquinn

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2009, 06:36:46 PM »
twoheadedknight - thank you!  Who knew that Hell should be capitalized?  Nice catch.   :up:  Thanks for all your kind words too!

TereLiz - Thanks so much! 

And um, well actually it's a pizza boy who is possessed by a demon assassin, but the pizza boy kind of had a device voluntarily implanted in him to let demons possess him... yeah, it's kind of complicated and so I just sort of went with the short version in the query.  It's also a very small part of the book at the beginning so if you want to run with the idea of a pizza boy assassin as the MC of a novel go ahead and run with it - I give you my blessing.    :wink:

Offline TereLiz

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Re: Urban Fantasy Query Letter
« Reply #14 on: May 29, 2009, 07:24:30 AM »
kate, thanks, lol! 

You were right to go with what you did, it sums the situation up nicely and catches the attention. 

Loving the whole premise of your book right now.  ;D