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  1. #1
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    Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    So I have queried various agents and even rewritten my query letter and I'm still not even getting asked for more of my novel than their submission guidelines ask for. Think any of you kind souls out there can help me out by letting me know if there's anything wrong in my letter? Oh and where I typed [Title] [Agent Name] is obviously where I put the agent's name in my query (title being like, Mr. Ms. Mrs.). Thanks for ANY help ya'll can give!



    Dear [Title] [Agent Name],

    The urban fantasy genre is vibrant and thriving, especially with the biggest readers and buyers of the genre; the YA audience, who read more urban fantasy than they do realistic fiction. Yet there is something that is missing within the YA urban fantasy genre; the presence of protagonists who are openly gay. With the recent events here in the US of the suicides of the teens who took their lives within the past month due to gay bullying, one can’t help but wonder what an urban fantasy novel or series that portrayed openly gay characters might have done in giving these teens and all the countless others we don’t know about hope that, “Yes. Things do get better.” This is where my two part, 97, 500 word, urban fantasy novel, AniMagi, Legend Untold, The Black Night Rave (or The Black Night Rave) comes in, featuring three LGBT protagonists, and fills a need within the literary field that has long been ignored and open due to its need with a generation and culture that has changed drastically from the audience it was just ten years ago.

    One night, one amazing party; the biggest event of the year is the Black Night Rave where only the most exclusive people are allowed to attend, and only the best costumed really get into the magic of the party. Gay and straight, hedge-witches and mages, the magical teens thrown together on the night of the Black Night Rave are about to find much more than the party they expected. One night can go fast; and when that night’s a rave, one that is set in remembrance of a war, and is spent fighting for your life, it promises to be one Hell of a night!

    The Black Night Rave is similar to the October Daye series in the sense that no one is quite what or who they seem, and their agendas are likewise masked, as well as the edgy urban fantasy feel that is present throughout. The Black Night Rave will also appeal to fans of the Harry Potter series (as it holds some of the same mysticism and magic seen within the Harry Potter series, as well as draws on some of the same mythos as the series- that wasn't planned though, that much I can tell you), The Scroll Thief, The Conqueror’s Shadow, the XYZ Trilogy, Witch Eyes, the Skullduggery Pleasant urban fantasy series, and the urban fantasy works of Holly Black (Tithe, Valiant, Ironside and White Cat)- as they're all somewhat dark and edgy, having a "nitty-gritty" feel to them which only adds to the angst that is present in them, to which fans can relate- and The Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare (in the fact that it has vampires and werewolves, faeries and witches, as they’re part of a larger, well-developed fantastical universe), though it is a unique novel and would stand out as such. In addition, I’ve finished the sequel, The Amethyst Star, and am currently working on a third book in the series entitled, Darkarian Bliss and could end the series as a four book series. I feel I must also add that I have artwork that could be used for The Black Night Rave.

    Though currently unpublished outside of my work as an editor and writer for a biweekly magazine that was published at a previous grade school, I am active in my community college’s writing community. In addition, I have been accepted to Columbia College Chicago’s BFA program for a major in Fiction Writing, and am currently attaining my Basics at Tarrant County College's Southeast Campus in Arlington, Texas. I have traveled to the locations featured in my novel.

    I have included the first ten pages of my novel, The Black Night Rave, as requested on your website. From what I’ve read, I think we would work well together, which is why I am offering you an exclusive query. My hope, [Title] [Agent Name], is that we can prove mutually beneficial to each other and to the publishing world. May I send you the manuscript or more sample chapters and the synopsis of my novel, The Black Night Rave?

    Sincerely,


    Dakota Shain Byrd



  2. #2
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    "I think we would work well together, which is why I am offering you an exclusive query"

    Doesn't this seem a bit pushy to you? If it doesn't, it should.

    Your query is holding you back. You need to do some basic homework. This query shows that you haven't done it.

    http://www.agentquery.com/writer_hq.aspx

  3. #3
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    Agents ask for exclusives. Unpublished authors don't offer them.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Frank Baron's Avatar
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    Dakota, there's lots wrong with your query. As well as studying info at Agentquery, you'd do well to read several threads in this forum to get a sense of what works and what doesn't. A week's worth of homework could move you a lot further down the publishing path.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Keith .'s Avatar
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    My opinion. Dump the first graph. You're presuming to give advice and explain the market to a publishing professional who knows much more about said subject than you or me. The second graph was fun but after that I lost interest. Agents and editors rarely fall in love with a story first. They fall for interesting, richly drawn characters and wonderful writing. Your query gives me neither to fall for. I'm not saying your manuscript doesn't have it. I'm saying if it does you need to show it.

    The person who opens your email or envelope will probably open fifty to a hundred more in the same day. I think my agent gets 4-500 per week. With this volume, an agent reads looking for reasons to reject. Don't give him or her one. Hook them with writing and draw them in with characters.

    As for the "we will work well together ...mutually beneficial in the publishing world" stuff, keep this a professional pitch. Dump it. Likewise with any offer of exclusivity. I've never seen anything to suggest an exclusive benefits anyone other than the agent. I once had an agent ask for a 2 week exclusive, only to drag it on for months. She was behind but wanted to lock me up because she liked my partial. She never offered.

    Check out Query Shark, Agent Query and Miss Snark (a closed blog but still chock full of great advice). What you've posted here is not a query. Luck.
    ________________________________________________

    People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.
    - Bob Dylan

  6. #6
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    Dakota,

    As others have already commented, there's lots wrong with this query. Here are the leading issues I see:

    1. It really doesn't tell about THE BOOK. You tell us a lot about why you think the U.S. market is ripe for the book, what other books out there are (in your view) similar to the book, and your education, but there's precious little to tell us what the book is actually about. Since an agent can only sell THE BOOK, and can't sell your views on the U.S. marketplace or similarities to other books or your education, the agent is going to want to hear, first and foremost, about THE BOOK.

    2. Grammatical mistakes. Among other things, you need to figure out the difference in usage between a semicolon and a colon.

    3. It sounds like you're pitching a series. Big no-no for a first-time author.

    4. Run-on sentences and lots of word surplusage and general rambling. An agent will assume the writing in your query is indicative of the quality of the manuscript. (If it is, I'd suggest you need to work more on your writing and revise your manuscript heavily before returning to the query stage, but it's your call.)

    Believe me, we all start doing this stuff, until we run down what's available out there about putting together a good query letter. Or more succinctly: query letters are a bitch. Good luck.

    JH

  7. #7
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    So I have queried various agents and even rewritten my query letter and I'm still not even getting asked for more of my novel than their submission guidelines ask for. Think any of you kind souls out there can help me out by letting me know if there's anything wrong in my letter? Oh and where I typed [Title] [Agent Name] is obviously where I put the agent's name in my query (title being like, Mr. Ms. Mrs.). Thanks for ANY help ya'll can give!
    Read the other threads in this forum to get some ideas how to structure a query. That's not dissing, that's advice that can save you a lot of hair-pulling..

    Stan

  8. #8
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    I didn't get past the first paragraph, and neither will an agent. Most likely, said agent won't get past the first sentence. Among other errors, you give the word count as 97,500 words. Wrong. Round it to the nearest thousand, not the nearest hundred.

  9. #9
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    Dakota,

    No suprise you haven't had any bites. A few things from me that stand out:
    1. An agent knows what's 'in' and what the gaps in the market are. You don't need to tell them. If for some reason you do, I'd stay clear of that agent;
    2. We don't know who your Pro is;
    3. We don't know who your antogonist is (what/who your Pro is up against);
    4. We don't know what's at stake for your Pro, what happens to them if they don't stop your antagonist?
    5. As an unpublished writer you don't tell the agent you've already written the series. You can mention something along the lines 'it has the potential to be a series', but the agent wants all your focus on making that first book the best it can be.
    6. You mention your book will appeal to Harry Potter fans. Do you really think a book about a party which is known for drugs and sex is appropriate for middle grade readers?
    7. It's too long. It should total about 300-words and fit on 1-page including address details and signature. Your QL is 697-words without any of the extra bits.
    8. You use an acronym that your agent may not know what it means ( I know I don't but it may be gay terminology which I'm not familiar with).
    9. Of the 3-paras that are meant to be the meat of your QL, you spend almost 400-words talking about the target market and less than 150-words actually talking about your MS.
    10. You have done absolutely no homework on writing query letters. Your QL stinks of it. There are resources like agentquery.com, this site and others with helpful advice. Try looking at some of them.

    DK

  10. #10
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    Re: Query Letter Critique- YA Urban Fantasy Novel

    First off, I wanna say thanks for all the comments and advice. Second off, a rave is a loud boistrous party, and not all raves are about sex and drugs. Thirdly, here is the rewrite I came up with.


    Skyeler is the one with the most knowledge about magic, born on Darkaria, an island in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle on which magic is both every day and boundary pushing. Keil is the one who was a freak experiment of his scientist father who just escaped the Hellhole called RavenTech Labs. Nicky is the three-fourths Cherokee girl who just buried her family, and is now a social outcast struggling to find a way to fit into what she calls “Normalville”, ‘where everybody has perfect homes with perfect lives, and nobody talks about anything that “Focus on the Family” wouldn’t support’. Rachel is the one who refuses to believe that the universe doesn’t revolve around her; the one whose life is so silver-screen-scripted perfect that she’s oblivious to the things going on around her.

    One night; one amazing party, the biggest event of the year, the Black Night Rave where only the most exclusive people are allowed to attend, and only the best costumed really get into the magic of the party. It’s here that four young mages- magic masters, or rather, magic masters in training- learn of their powers, and the destiny that awaits them. One night can go fast; and when that night’s a rave, one that is set in remembrance of a war, and is spent fighting for your life, it promises to be one Hell of a night!

    The Black Night Rave is a young adult urban fantasy novel complete at 98,000 words.

    Though currently unpublished, I am active in my community college’s writing community. In addition, I have been accepted to Columbia College Chicago’s BFA program in Fiction Writing. I am currently attaining my Basics at Tarrant County College in Arlington, Texas.

    Sincerely,

    Dakota Shain Byrd

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