Query Advice. Any Help is Appreciated!
I've recently had some misgivings about the strength of my query letter. I first sent it out to twenty agents about nine weeks ago and I've received three "thanks, but no thanks" within 48 hours and then silence with the other seventeen. I'm not sure if I should just chill out and wait or if there's a problem with my query. All of the agents I sent it to do say that they give a response either way. I've included the basic format below. Any kind words of wisdom would be much appreciated!
A secret, brewing deep beneath Iran’s mountainous terrain, is uncovered by the CIA’s most valuable agent; a cabal of Russian industrialists and military officers launch a plot to seize control of global energy markets; a terrorist captures a moment to play powers against each other; a fire is set that will consume thousands, and blind a superpower.
In 1990, as the Soviet empire crumbled, a Russian special forces team entered Germany and left behind a single device for a rainy day.
Brigadier General Saeed Mofidi, war hero, trusted confidant to Iran’s Supreme Leader, and traitor, makes a shocking revelation to his CIA handler: in just two months, Iran will possess a nuclear weapon. As the full might of the US intelligence community is mobilized to stop it, a veteran diplomat seeks to finally bring peace between Israel and its neighbors. In Moscow, an uneasy alliance of military brass and oil oligarchs conspire to wrestle control of the globe’s energy reserves from Arab sheikhdoms.
Their plan? Enlist the world’s greatest terrorist to put America and Iran on a collision course, warping the lines between illusion and reality, and setting the stage for a single, massive conflagration.
ACTIVE MEASURES - PART I, complete at approximately 118,000 words, is the first volume of an epic espionage trilogy. May I send you a larger excerpt or the full manuscript?
I am a student of international politics with a life-long yearning to build and share my stories. I have worked in Congress, the British Parliament, and served on a roundtable at the US Naval Academy.
Thank you for your time and consideration."
I can give you a few pointers.
First off, your entire first paragraph is one long run-on sentence. Makes an agent worry that you will have plenty of these in your story.
Second, you need to name one or two main characters and concentrate on their actions, reactions, and fate. Your third paragraph is mainly telling the agent about world events. Need to stick with your characters - not events.
Third, 'their plan?' Who is 'their?' Don't make an agent guess who you're talking about.
Fourth, to put 'Part 1' in the title is a no-no. The agent only cares about this manuscript. It needs to be a stand-alone story. If and when, and only then, you sell ten thousand copies or more, can you then talk about a sequel.
Fifth, give an exact word count rounded up to the nearest thousand - not approximate. Do you know how long your story is or not? Again, don't allude to coming volumes or sequels. Never ask if you can send an exerpt or the full manuscript. That's why you're sending a query in the first place - the agent knows you're hoping they'll want to read the entire thing.
Sixth, leave off the first sentence of your last paragraph - an agent won't care. The second sentence, if you can, should be a little more specific about what you did in Congress and the British Parliment. It will give you credibility. As for the roundtable thing - sounds like a series of committee meetings and may not pique their interest.