Query Letters & All That Jazz

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I just took the plunge and pressed the ‘Submit’ button on the Harper Voyager form. Weird feeling. Have I done everything I can to make it worthy? Is it polished enough? Is it good enough? Deep breaths, now, deep breaths.

In the end, though, it wasn’t the manuscript that really caused the last minute attack of nerves. It was all the bits and pieces that you have to write for a submission – the hook, the log-line, the synopsis and the query letter. Never done any of those before and yikes, it’s tough. Not least because t’internet has a thousand and one different pieces of conflicting advice on how to do each. And I’ll be honest – self promotion and marketing copy are not my strongest points. Condensing the story down into two paragraphs, or even one sentence, I can do. That’s just a question of concise language, which I enjoy. But to do that AND phrase it in such a way that it demands to be read? That’s where I get nervous.

Anyway, with a bit of help from Miss Ju and some pushing from Tigermoth, it all got done and sent. Now we wait for three months and see if anything happens. In the meantime, some useful links. I trawled through many pages and articles, but there were three that actually helped: one for the log-line, one for the synopsis and one for the query letter. I hope you find them useful too. Here’s what I ended up with – I hope it makes you want to read the book, but any improvement suggestions are welcome for the next time I try to submit!

— SPIRITUS —

Thea Cirrus could have had a dazzling career as a wealthy and influential courtier. Instead, she threw it all aside to follow the only man that ever loved her – her brother.

The daughter of a Senator, Thea is expected to marry for political advantage but she defies the restrictions of society and joins her adored brother Astraeus in the army. She is caught up in an on-going war against invaders from the north and, when the enemy sparks a slave revolt that sweeps across the continent, everything Thea knows is destroyed. Only a handful of the immortal fae elite survive, protected by mist, a magical sleep and the Cirrus siblings.

Centuries later the mist is penetrated by a descendent of those slaves, in desperate need of help – the northern invaders are back. Resolved to finally defeat them, Astraeus volunteers to fight for the mortals and is cast out as a traitor. Thea once again ignores the rules and follows him but, as the enemy draws close to victory, she faces a difficult choice: to stay with him as she has always done, or obey his orders and finally learn to do her duty.

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3 responses »

  1. I read that log-line blog last night, very interesting. I think your log-line is good; the use of the past tense means that it reads like setting the scene rather than telling me what is going to happen (which is presumably intentional) but grabs my attention so it must be working!

    I also approve of the synopsis – it’s short and punchy. Weirdly it’s slightly different reading it on your actual blog to how it appeared in my inbox – did you edit the post? I was going to say that the line “Only a handful of fae survive” makes the fact that the protagonists are fae come out of nowhere and kicked my brain off the track slightly whilst reading it. The version that’s above however – “Only a handful of the immortal fae elite survive” reads much better, and eases that detail in much more naturally.

    One other comment from the synopsis is that the last line leaves me with the feeling that Thea is a passive, maybe even submissive character. Her options are following “him”, or doing what he tells her and doing her duty. It put vague thoughts in my head about feminism/gender relationships and whether that’s a part of the story or not. Again that might be intentional, but if not then you may want to consider tweaking the last line slightly – reducing the number of male pronouns perhaps, giving it more of a leaning towards the miltary aspect or putting more of a positive spin on the concept of doing one’s duty to make Thea seem stronger for it.

    Overall though I think it’s very good! Good luck!

    • ‘feminism/gender relationships and whether that’s a part of the story or not.’

      It is. 😉 But I had limited space with the synopsis so couldn’t work in more than one theme. I will look at tweaking it though, thanks!

      • Well if it is part of the story then it’s probably fine that the line hints towards that. 🙂

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