Friday, March 26, 2010

Demanding Clients

Here I found another version of the query. Based on the date this is earlier than the first one I sent out which is odd because it is slightly better.

May 6th, 2009

Dear Mr. REDACTED,

I am seeking representation for my fantasy-adventure novel which has the working title, Warrior-Monks, which is complete at approximately 475,000 words. The sequel, which is untitled, currently exists only in outline form. I am enclosing a synopsis but will not include any sample chapters because your website clearly states that you will request a manuscript if you have an interest. I will say though, that this story really has to be read to be appreciated as the synopsis included here simply does not do it justice.

I'm not sure why I left the YA part out in this one. Perhaps he didn't/doesn't represent it or perhaps I just didn't know any better yet. At least I didn't use that genre bending belch of a description you might remember from other queries. Also good to see I didn't say fiction novel.

I will admit to being completely ashamed about that synopsis not doing it justice drivel though. I sound like an idiot.


I love Eastern Cultures and art forms – Martial Arts, Calligraphy, Japanese Swords, Tea Ceremony etcetera and all the tradition and high level of art that go into them. I also love magic and fantasy and eastern religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism. Warrior-Monks incorporates all of these themes in a fantastic way which has never been done in young adult fantasy to my knowledge.

I don't know why I stuck with this oh so personal hook for so long. It's not all that terrible but it just doesn't work. As much as each of these things: Martial Arts, Calligraphy, Japanese Swords, Tea Ceremony; is cool, they way they are referred to here takes all the excitement out of them like a balloon without enough air left inside to make a decent farting noise.


Lee is a troubled young man from a broken family. After being expelled from boarding school and having experienced several brushes with the law, his adopted parents, who also happen to be his cruel aunt and uncle, decide to ship him off to a strange and distant reform school which is in the remote wilderness in the panhandle of Northern Idaho. He becomes a member of a group of 12 other students who arrived at the school at the same time as him. They are all very afraid and apprehensive about what will be going on at the school but they are soon pleased to discover that it is not nearly as bad as they had feared. After working in the Wood-Corral for several months they begin taking classes like Aikido, Kenjutsu, Calligraphy and Meditation. It is some time before they discover that through meditation they can imbue their calligraphic scrolls with ancient magic. The book consists of many themes such as the beauty of nature, the life-energy that exists in everything and the awkward struggles that teenagers go through as they grow into themselves and become adults. Lee’s coming of age and struggling with the loss of his mother and the breaking of his family form the core of this introspective but also character driven tale.

I can't decide about this paragraph. It is where the query should have started. It is not bad. It's sort of the first version of a mini synopsis that still exists in my most updated query. However, it's still not great. It's too long and needs a lot of work. See future versions.

I have never been published but I am confident that one does not have to be a highly experienced or best-selling author to write an incredibly entertaining book. Thank you for your consideration of this proposal. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Better than other conclusions I've written.


Sincerely,

Matthew M. Rush

What happened to the contact info?

His reply:

Thanks for your interest in our agency. Unfortunately you've caught me at a time when the demands of my current clients leave me with very little time to devote to developing new talent and unfortunately in this case I have to pass on the opportunity to pursue this. I'm being extremely, and likely unreasonably, picky so please seek many opinions since my decision may have little to do with the salability of your work.

Sincerely,

REDACTED REDACTED

This one feels personalized but probably isn't. I haven't checked query tracker but I suspect this is a kind but craftily forged form rejection. I will always give credit for trying to be nice though. Interestingly enough this blogger posting WYSIWYG software says that salability is either not a word or is spelled wrong. I'm not a stickler for that kind of thing and it makes sense to me but I always think it's funny when software calls a professional out for being supposedly wrong.

Somehow this feels like one of the best queries I've put on the blog so far. I'm not exactly sure why. It's strange though that this one was sent out before so many of the others. I had thought I was going through a learning process. Seems like I may have had to get dumber before getting smarter.

Oh well, live and learn.

10 comments:

JustineDell said...

We've all had a case of the "dummies" - it comes and goes. So, one day we are smarter and the next day we are dumber...LoL.

Tracy said...

Having read several of your early queries I'm curious about something. Did all of that fit on one page? Or were you sending two page queries for a while in the beginning?

Matthew Rush said...

Tracy, I didn't print it out but I do recall it fitting on one page in word. That being said it is probably still too long. Long windedness is my nemesis.

Still, I wouldn't be surprised if some of my early queries did stretch onto two pages. I used the arial font back then and it fits more text on a page. Convert it to TNR or Courier and suddenly it's much longer (looking).

The one big long paragraph, although the best part of the query, is a huge block of text and should have been broken up at least twice. Now I've learned enough that it is simply completely re-written, as you probably know from the forums at NB's blog.

Angie said...

I highly recommend Elana Johnson's book From the Query to the Call for query writing advice. It helped me tremendously! Good luck to you with your querying. Sounds like a very interesting book.

Matthew Rush said...

Hi Angie, thanks for stopping by and especially for commenting and following. I just found Elana's blog today and can I just say...

AWESOME.

I'm not ready to start querying again yet because I've learned throughout this whole process that my MS is way too long. But I will surely consider her e-book when I am ready. The only problem as I see it is that she already gives away a LOT of great advice on her blog for FREE. Still at $9.99 with a free critique I'll probably buy it when I'm ready.

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Are we supposed to put our personal interests into a query? I did a mini-query workshop and they said not to bother putting in my BA degree. The agents and publishers just want writing credits.

But when I did a live online pitch session the publisher wanted to know about me as a person, my interests etc. So, I am confused!!!

Good blog. So brave to put out your query for all to see. :)

Matthew Rush said...

Thanks Amanda. By the way your photo has updated now. I would not suggest putting personal interests in your query in the manner that I did. If your novel involves something incredibly specific, like military experience, for example, then that might be more pertinent.

A pitch session is very different to my understanding so I think it's okay there. As far as your BA did you major in English? If so it might help if not I would leave it out. NB has a great post about publishing credits that is somewhat relevant here:

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/how-and-whether-to-list-your-publishing.html

Wendy aka Quillfeather. said...

Good post. Much food for thought. All the best.

Enjoyed my visit to your blog. Will be a frequent visitor :)

ModernDayDrifter said...

There is such a fine line between what is too much and what isn't enough in a query. I am having a hard time at the moment with how much I should put into my synopsis.

I think the query letter is probably the hardest process in the whole writing process. It took me over an hour last night to get around 250 words out. And I'm still not happy with it.

I wish you the best of luck!

Matthew Rush said...

ModernDayDrifter, agreed!