Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXXIII

November 10th, 2011 • Kate

flying_shoes_punambean1How does short and sweet work for you?

Dear About My Query:

My name is Calista, and I have a Clear designation.

I was seventeen when the Consilium marked me, and I let them.

They told me I was unique, and I believed them.

They burned my home with my family inside, and I survived.

Their control is slipping, and I am the key.

They want me dead, and I will fight back.

MARKED, a Young Adult Dystopian, is complete at 80,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration,

Sincerely,
C.V.

For me, although there a quite a few teasers of what this book is about, it’s more like flap copy, and not enough for a query letter. What does a “Clear designation” mean? What about “marked”? Who are the Consilium?

This also breaks one of my top “don’t”s for query letters — don’t have your characters query me. C.V. is not Calista, and I not only want to know more about the character, but also the author.

If this was written in third person, would it be enough? Not really. A query isn’t just flap copy, a few lines to entice someone who’s already picked up the book (maybe because of the shiny cover) to read more. You’re one of hundreds of emails an agent may get in his or her inbox in any given day — is this going to get them to read more?

Not for me. I’m intrigued, but if you don’t make the effort to tell me more, why should I?

Do you agree? Disagree?

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8 Responses to “Ask Daphne! About My Query LXXXIII”

  1. Melodie Says:

    I just finished reading Veronica Roth's Divergent and the plot in this query sounds similar. From what I'm hearing, the challenge for dystopians these days is to pitch with a unique, strong hook- and this query doesn't do that yet.

  2. @TheresaMarieP Says:

    I think it is interesting and a nice change from what I have seen with the typical query, but I'm left wanting to know more. I think adding a few more lines of detail would definitely help grab an agents attention. Also I kind of like how it's told from the MC, but I think with going this route it is important to add a line or two about yourself.

  3. Krista V. Says:

    Kudos to C.V. for trying something out of the box, but I think this format is too vague for a query. Specifics are what make a query stand out, and right now, this one sounds too generic, especially for such a hot genre. I'm sure the manuscript has some unique elements, so if it were me, I'd try to highlight those.

    Also, C.V., was it your intention to make all the proper nouns start with C? If not, you might consider changing a few of them.

    Good luck!

  4. Emy Shin Says:

    I agree that this is too short and too vague to entice me; from what there is of it, it sounds like other YA dystopians I've read. It's the same problem I have with many flap copies — they're too vague to be distinctive from others in their genre, and as my number one reason for picking up a book is its summary, I end up not reading a lot of what could have been great books.

  5. Adam Heine Says:

    Everything Daphne said. Though I did get a cool V for Vendetta vibe from this that made me want to know more. But you have to be careful. You want it to be a "Oh my gosh I have to request this!" kind of more, not an "I wish they had told me more about it. Oh well" kind.

  6. robinlemke Says:

    It would make me want to pick up the book as a reader, but maybe that's the "flap copy" element. 😉

  7. Jill Elizabeth Says:

    This may break a lot of rules, but it grabbed me right away. Every word is purposeful, so she/he didn't need a lot of them–and it gives me the sense (without seeing sample pages) that this author knows how to write. However, I have not read a ton of dystopians; perhaps it would not stand out to me if I was more familiar with existing books in the genre.

  8. @CharleeVale Says:

    Thank you for all the great feedback! I will return to the drawing board with your notes in hand.

    CV