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  1. #1
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    A non-fiction query, second take

    I've removed the sentence about the book being edited by a native speaker and I've made other changes. I worry, though, that an agent will judge the way the book is written by this letter. Yet the letter is written by me alone and the book sounds better. Should I return the sentence? I'll appreciate your comments. I know that my English is not good enough for such an ambitious task. On the other hand I have a potentionally hot topic at hand and not much time to give it a try.


    Dear ………. (specific name),

    I write you because you represented (Title, author)…… and my book is about this subject too.

    BULGARIA IN EU: A MATCH MADE IN HELL is a 105 000 word insider’s view of the Bulgarian judiciary against the background of the local society. My book can be classified as eurosceptic as it shows how unsuited Bulgaria is to be in one club with the Western countries and how misguided EU attempts are to address this reality. Bulgaria gains significance because, come 2014, its citizens may no longer be restricted to work wherever they like within EU. It is as though every Mexican may freely settle in USA. The British minister Theresa May’s proposal to curb migration from Bulgaria and Romania is just one of the latest episodes illustrating the problem. There are publications on how many Bulgarians are expected to come, but there is none about the culture of those coming and how the Thames may be affected if the waters of Danube empty into it. The book sheds light on little known facts, for example that Bulgarians are just a few generations removed from tribal existence. It covers counter-intuitive mechanisms in their social life such as: legality causing disorder, morality working against legality, and the rich being interested in left policies. The book will appeal to those worried about the influx of new emigrants and, judging by the UKIP support, by the web forums, the newspaper articles, and so on, this is a big chunk of the British society. In some respects it is the topic of the day because, with UK hesitating whether to stay in EU, the new immigration wave may become the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I am available to do whatever is necessary to promote my book.

    I’m a Bulgarian and I have always lived in Bulgaria. I’ve been a lawyer for 12 years now. I’ve published hundreds of articles in some of the biggest national newspapers like Trud Daily, Novinar Daily and Pari Weekly. Some of these are available in the web also and may be found by googling my name in Cyrillic alphabet.

    Sincerely yours:



  2. #2
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Well, for consistency, I still vote you get the person who edited your book to edit your query. I suppose I could give it a crack if you like though.

  3. #3
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    John,

    I'd like to, please do.

    I'm sure your consistent advice is an apt one. Still, I can not expect this person to do this for me. Apart from the linguistical problems, what other problems are there?

  4. #4
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Well, in my opinion, your problem is not so much stringing words together. I think you have a decent grasp of English and a good vocabulary. I think your problem resides a little deeper...when you try to employ things like analogy, metaphor, and idiom. And how you organize your thoughts is a little murky. I'll work on it a little at lunch.

  5. #5
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Ok...I'm still not entirely sure what exactly your book is about, but here's my crack at it:

    Dear ………. (specific name),

    I write to you because you represented (Title, author)…… and my book is about this subject too. BULGARIA IN EU: A MATCH MADE IN HELL is a 105,000 word insider view of the Bulgarian judiciary from the perspective of Bulgarian society.

    The year 2014 will see Bulgarian work restrictions lifted in an effort to assimilate Bulgaria into the EU. However, as a country just a few generations removed from tribal existence, Bulgaria is ill-suited to unite with Western countries, despite the good intentions of the misguided EU. The UK harbors grave reservations about the situation and for good reason. Bulgaria is home to laws that cause disorder, cultural and religious conscience that fights against those laws, and the political agenda of the wealthy. This book sheds light on Bulgarian society, its possible impact on the EU, and the objections and worries many in the UK harbor about a large influx of Bulgarian emigrants.

    I am a Bulgarian lawyer and live in Bulgaria. I published hundreds of articles in some of the biggest national newspapers like Trud Daily, Novinar Daily and Pari Weekly. Some of these are available on the web and may be found by googling my name in Cyrillic.

    Sincerely yours:

  6. #6
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    Reading your version of my query letter made me realize how bad I’ve written it. Apparently I have not explained comprehensively what my book is about. May be this is because for me it is obvious what it is about and I can’t see the letter with the eyes of an impartial observer who has not read the book. Or perhaps I tried to squeeze in it as much information as possible. You are very right that my problem goes deeper than my English. I probably will not do much better in Bulgarian.

    Let’s take the following sentence in my letter:

    “It covers counter-intuitive mechanisms in their social life such as: legality causing disorder, morality working against legality, and the rich being interested in left policies.”

    Here’s how you construed it:

    “Bulgaria is home to laws that cause disorder, cultural and religious conscience that fights against those laws, and the political agenda of the wealthy.”


    And here’s what I actually meant:

    “In the West law and order go together. More legality is associated with more order. In Bulgaria often the enforcement of the law causes more disorder. In the West morality and legality go together. What’s considered immoral is also illegal. In Bulgaria often what’s moral is illegal and vice versa. In the West the left policies (like high taxation) go against the interest of the rich. In Bulgaria one becomes super rich because of left policies.”

    The meaning is conveyed better in this way (with many sentences and clarifications) than in my query. However, it is also longer and I want to observe the one page rule on query letters.

    Thank you John. Your redaction showed me how my letter really looks like.

  7. #7
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    I think that there's definitely a way to be clear and yet maintain the length of your letter. For example, if you left out the first two sentences and began with, "In Bulgaria, often the enforcement of law..." and edited it together with the rest of your statements about law in Bulgaria, adding a single statement at the beginning or end about the fact that all these things are diametrically opposed to how 'law' works in Western countries, it would be shorter but still clear.

  8. #8
    Senior Member John Oberon's Avatar
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    Well, I don't know that I agree with you. In just about any country I know, more legality means less freedom and more fear, not more order. Also, all law is based on some kind of morality, either evil or good. The Nazis had a very firm and clear morality and made laws based on it. Most dictators have a very selfish and ruthless morality and make laws based on it. America was founded on a Christian morality and we made laws based on it, but they've eroded considerably under our current "Christian" President. If Bulgaria has laws you consider immoral, it's because people with that kind of morality rose to power and passed those laws.

    I also disagree with you that one becomes super rich because of left policies. The only people who are rich in a left political system are the few leaders, while the vast unwashed masses sink into poverty. By definition, left policies impoverish people, right policies enrich people. It's not like that's really difficult to see. Obama's in the process of bankrupting America and throwing all America (except of course himself and his cronies) into poverty. That's what leftists do and have done throughout history. That's their morality, and that's what they base their laws on.

  9. #9
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    In the words of John Lock, “the end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of laws, where there is no law, there is no freedom: for liberty is, to be free from restraint and violence from others; which cannot be, where there is no law…” I agree with this and disagree that more legality means less freedom. This is precisely what one may observe in Bulgaria: less legality and less freedom.

    But I believe that we’ve switched our wires here. I think that by ‘more legality means less freedom’ you mean that more regulations mean less freedom. I’m a Ron Paul fan, I agree with this. The misunderstanding here comes from the fact that Bulgaria is such an alien world compared to America. By ‘legality’ I don’t mean regulations but conformity between regulations and what goes on on the ground. Thus, in Bulgaria, piling up of new regulations does not mean more legality but less legality. This is another paradoxical mechanism I’ve substantiated in the book.

    Here’s one example of this. The more types of crime are included in the Penal code, the more clogged the penal system becomes. The more clogged, the more it takes for each case to be processed. Eventually some cases are dismissed because the charge has become void by prescription. Thus, if we have only, say, murder, robbery and rape as crimes, the cases involving these crimes will be processed through the courts in, say, 3 years. The prescription will not elapse. If hooliganism, deception, slander, cruelty to animals and the like are crimes as well along with another 100 types of crime, each will be processed in, say, 15 years. Thus some cases will be discontinued regardless of whether there’s proof who the perpetrators were.

    I also fully agree with you that left policies impowerish people and that the only people who are rich in a left political system are the few leaders and their cronies. But that’s my whole point. The rich in Bulgaria are not those who have applied a new technology (like Carnegie for example), nor those who have developed a new market, but those associated with the political summit. As paradoxical as it may sound, the superrich oligarchs in Bulgaria are interested in high taxation, high regulation, privileges for the workers and other policies that are detrimental to the rich in US. There are examples of this in my book as well. For example, a whole chapter is dedicated to the so called Workers-managerial companies that were designed to enrich the poor but eventually became useful tool in the hands of the oligarchs to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m a follower of the Laissez-faire capitalism. If my query leaves another impression that’s only because it is so badly composed.

    As for the legality – morality dichotomy in the context of Bulgarian society, if I could explain it in a few sentences, I would not need a whole book. Here, as elsewhere, analogies with the West are misleading.

    You see, one of the problems with writing a query letter in my case is that what my book asserts is so unexpected to a westerner. You, for example, have construed my theses regarding the left policies in a totally opposite way. I have a book that makes sense (because it contains detailed explanations and examples) and a query letter that doesn’t. My problem is that no one will consider the book with such a confusing query letter.

  10. #10
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    Come to think of it, in some respects Bulgaria is where US is heading. Obama says that going to college is a right and everybody should be able to do it whether he has money or not. Well, in Bulgaria everybody can do this. Come and see what the consequences are. Michael Moore says that everybody should have health-care coverage whether he contributes to the system or not. Well, in Bulgaria it is just like this. Come and see what this means in practice! The same goes for banning hand-guns, having a social state, regulating employment and other things that gradually come into being in US. Some think that US has too many lawyers? Well, have a look at Bulgaria, a country with not so many lawyers. Some think that courts in US award excessive compensations? Have a look at Bulgaria where the courts of law award modest compensations. Some in US complain that legality has taken over at the expense of morality. (For example the book THE CASE AGAINST LAWYERS does this.) Well, come to Bulgaria and see what it means legality to be anaemic and morality to be the dominant social regulator. Come and see whether it is a utopia, as socialist will claim, or anti-utopia. That’s what my book is about. It studies the hidden mechanisms and the unintended consequences of good intentions.
    Last edited by cabbage; 02-04-2013 at 02:04 PM.

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