The Dreaded Query Letter

Whenever I think about publishing, I suffer a mild panic attack. Before receiving my BA from USF, I promised myself that I would stop chickening out and pursue my dream as soon as a diploma was in my hand. Just the thought of that self-promise kept me up the night before graduation. Years later, I took a book with me to Morocco called The First Five Pages, which is supposed to help writers get their foot in the door. The author wrote, and I paraphrase here, that if Dostoevsky could endure a prison in Siberia and still write, so can you (no doubt, Dostoevsky suffered from a serious case of writer’s disease). Really? That’s supposed to encourage me? I was sick (literally) the next day.

When it comes to me panicking, yesterday was not much different, except that in the 2011 Writer’s Market (a resource for writers to sell their work) I could find no more than three publishers willing to take on new authors of the fantasy genre. I sometimes wonder whether Dostoevsky felt this discouraged; I mean, the guy didn’t have to compete with video games and movies! All Russians had to do is play chess and read. At times, I feel I was born a decade or two too late.

The bottom line is, it’s never a good thing to want something too badly. It can compromise your judgment. So this is where I need your help. I have written two query letters, having done my best to follow the guidelines set forth by the Writer’s Market, and books like the dreaded The First Five Pages, but it’s tough walking that fine line between too personal and too professional. So check out the text below and let me know: does it hook you? Would you read a book like this? Would you invest in this?


Dear Agent,

From the time I was six years old, my dream was to become a writer. My first attempt at publication was at DC Comics headquarters in New York City at the age of nine (you can imagine how that turned out). After a number of shelved novels, I received my BA in English from the University of South Florida, where I studied fiction, literature, and ancient history at the graduate level.

My third novel, Ages of Ænya, blurs the line between dark fantasy and science fiction. It is an adventure story set in a world of harsh extremes, where the western hemisphere perpetually faces the sun as the eastern half of the planet remains a frozen wasteland. The main protagonists, Xandr and Thelana, encounter many marvelous and treacherous things as they battle to survive in a world prejudiced against them.

Book Length: 157,677 words.

When Xandr first meets Thelana, she is dangling naked from the hook tied to her waist, her one arm reaching for the giant pearl eye in the idol of a stone god. At once he can tell­­, by the henna patterned across her body, that she is like him, an Ilmarin, perhaps the last to be tamed by civilization. But Xandr can do little to rescue her from the angry zealots aiming for the blasphemer with their bows, lest he reveal his own ethnicity.

In Ages of Ænya, Thelana leaves her naturist family to join the military but returns to an abandoned home. Xandr is raised to become a leader, a Batal like his ancestor, but when his mentor is killed he wanders the wilds as a recluse. Emma, a teenager with an absent father, is banished from her city for witchcraft after talking to ravens.

As Fate brings these characters together, they must follow the clues contained in the Ages of Ænya—a history written by a time traveling mathematician—in order to prevent a second world-shaping cataclysm.

Please contact me if you would like to receive a synopsis and sample chapters.

Thank you for your consideration,

Nick Alimonos


[OR]

Dear Publisher,

Please consider my manuscript, Ages of Ænya, for publication. It is 157,677 words of dark fantasy/adventure for mature readers.

Synopsis: Thelana leaves her naturist family to join the military but returns to an empty home. Xandr is raised to become a leader like his great ancestor, but when his mentor is killed he wanders the wilds as a recluse. Emma, a lonely teenage girl, is banished from her city for witchcraft after talking to ravens. As fate brings these characters together, they must follow the clues contained in the Ages of Ænya—a history written by a time traveling prophet—in order to prevent a second world-shaping cataclysm.

About Me: I received my BA in English from the University of South Florida, where I studied English Literature, English Fiction and Ancient History. I have been writing fiction since the age of six. Ages of Ænya is my third novel.

Thank you for your consideration,
Nick Alimonos

2 thoughts on “The Dreaded Query Letter

  1. How about a mixture of both worlds there, Nick? The first paragraph of the second letter fits much better than the first of the first. Then I would have used a more friendly tone in my writing, had I been in your shoes. A good example is the rest of the first letter. Your letter then will be presented in a formal and informal manner, all in one. That is my opinion, which sometimes may not fit for others.

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  2. Hey, Aris, I really appreciate your comments BUT it's about 5 months too late! I have written and sent many others! Thanks anyway! I am sending a new query in December so you can comment on that.

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