April 5, 2012

Latest attempt at a query...any help is appreciated :)

This is query number 6 or maybe 7. I'm kind of losing track at this point. I have taken advice from everyone and tried to incorporate it. One thing I have heard from a few people is.... 'How is this story the 40 days of temptation?' And although it is very clear in the story... I have had a hard time figuring out how to get 2 povs into the query. I would love to query just 1 pov, and that's what my previous attempts were, but when I leave off the other character- who is going through the 40 days of temptation- then the symbolism is lost. So here is my current try...any thoughts:)

UNYIELDING, is a YA high fantasy. Complete at 62,000 words, this novel puts a unique spin on the classic story of the 40 days of temptation Christ suffered. It is written from two povs- a hot headed disciple trying to rescue his friend, and the friend, who is imprisoned and being offered anything to switch sides.

Gabe is a clumsy, hot-tempered, seventeen-year-old boy whose problems are far from typical. While most teens are bothered by sweaty palms and cracking voices, Gabe has to deal with lightning that shoots from his hands every time he gets upset- which for him is more often than not. And he’d love to have grade troubles and prom date worries, instead he has to avenge his parent’s murder and save his best friend’s life.

A man named Samael and his legion of followers are on a rampage for power over the planet. Samael comes for Gabe’s family, but Gabe's best friend Rhet, saves him. Gabe’s parents aren’t so fortunate, and neither is Rhet, who became collateral damage and is captured. It turns out Rhet is the one Samael has been hunting all this time.

While in prison Rhet is given a choice- join Samael on his conquest- or everyone he ever loved will die. With Rhet in his grasp, Samael will do anything to turn him, offer anything. What Samael doesn't know is that Rhet has his own ulterior motives, something much greater than Samael could ever offer.

The first chapter of UNYIELDING will be featured as a flash fiction piece on an agent’s blog, Sarah LaPolla’s- Glass Cases. I feel this would be a good fit with you because of........ Thank you for your time.


Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I was never lucky in getting an agent, and yes...I do think that there is some luck involved with this kind of thing. Honestly, I would encourage you to attend a writer's conference, forego the query, and pitch directly to the agent using a three line pitch. But that being said, I'm looking at your query and will offer this (assuming you still want to go this route-many agents will only take one out of a pile of 30,000):

1)Your first two sentences should come at the end.

2) Rather than say "unique spin" this is what the agent will look at as "telling". They want to be shown. "Show don't tell" basically...so cut that and then reveal that it is unique by showing it in the query and let them arrive at that conclusion on their own.

3) Gabe who? We want a last name here. Also his age is perfectly placed so that's good. The second paragraph packs a lot of good action and tension so this part is excellent. I would actually move the introduction of Gabe to the first paragraph.

4) Third paragraph is great. Good exposition of plot and story.

5) I love the second to last paragraph. Now also, there should be a sentence or two that expounds your writing laurels if any. Also a comparison to other works that have been published is useful. Example: "UNYIELDING" will appeal to fans of "this and this" novel that you already represent. This will give you a personal connection to that agent and set you aside from the crowd.

I like the exposure you are getting from Sarah LaPolla's blog...this is excellent writing cred and should maybe be bumped up one paragraph. You've got industry recognition here and that's just awesome.

Anyway, that's all the advice I have to give. I wish you great success and I hope that this gets the attention and respect it deserves. Your story sounds impressive, and I would want to read more.

Anonymous said...

I've had a number of rejections and I've also had some success with getting full requests for my work. Never had an offer for representation come out of what I sent out, so I may not be the best authority for getting your query in shape.

However, I do wish you luck. It does sound amazing and Michael's suggestions are great! Good luck :)

Amber said...

Thanks guys for your help. I know getting an agent seems impossible. I have thought about self-publishing, or trying to get a publisher, but those are last resorts, simply because an agent will get my story out there better than I ever could. But thanks so much for your tips :)

elizabeth seckman said...

poor Amber. Your head is probably spinning. Everyone has their spin on the perfect query. Never lose heart, doors open. Don't lose hope. You're getting there.

Brenda Drake said...

I agree with Michael's suggestions about arranging the query. I think you need to tighten it up a bit.

I think you need to breathe some immediacy into your query. Make it read like the back of a book jacket. Sort of like this...

--> Seventeen-year-old Gabe's problems are far from typical. While most teens are bothered by sweaty palms and cracking voices, Gabe must watch his temper or risk destroying things with the lightning that shoots from his hands every time he gets upset...

Keep the query to no more than 250 words (manuscript details and personal info. included). Remember you don't have to tell the entire book in the query, you just want to entice an agent to ask for more pages. Short, sharp, and voice is what your aim is. What is the main plot of the story? Stick to that and give it some flare.

I hope this helps!

Amber said...

Thanks so much Elizabeth for all of your help!!!

And Brenda- thanks for the tips...I'm looking forward to your next workshop for queries/ or pitches! You and your blog help newbies like me so much!! :)