Jump to content

Disclaimer



Photo
- - - - -

The Artisan's Seal


  • Please log in to reply
11 replies to this topic

#1 Ice

Ice

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 17 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:...none...

Posted 05 December 2010 - 03:41 PM

Hey everyone, I posted the revised version on comment #9. Thanks again!


Hello! I just found this website yesterday, and after reading many of the queries and critiques you lovely people do here, I thought I should get some opinion on my query letter. I've spent two years editing my manuscript, so it's about time I do something about it.
You can go ahead and rip my query letter apart, I want to learn how to make it better and I thank everyone in advance!

Dear _________ :
Please consider The Descendant, the first book of The Artisan’s Seal series, a mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.

Dragged into a world of elites in power, Maissa, in her weakest state, has everyone around her, but no one to help her.

Maissa Jordan, 17 years old, doesn’t know very much about her family. She has no idea what her parents do or where they work, and she’s not very fond of her mother. When Maissa’s father adopts her best friend Amber and the little boy Sami, he moves them to Maissa’s deceased grandparents’ home. There, with her parents absent as usual, Maissa has one thing on her mind: keeping the new members of her family safe and content. But just when they’re getting comfortable, the ones who caused the death of Amber’s parents turn up again, and this time, they’re demanding a certain ‘Key.’ Trying to keep everyone else out of this mess, (the neighbour and his crazy basketball friends) Maissa pays little attention to the illness spreading through her body. There is something that her parents are hiding, not just about themselves, but about the attackers, Amber’s parents, and the suffocating darkness taking over Maissa’s mind. When things become too much, Maissa decides to delve in and find out. She and her friends not only discover concealed stories, people, places, and powers, but also the secret to what Maissa actually is.

When I first got the idea of The Artisan’s Seal into my head, I couldn’t get away from it, and it felt like a duty to write it. This is the beginning of the long tale that I’ve been working on for more than five years. I’m currently slowly making my way through the second book.

Thank you so much for your time, and please let me know if you would like to see a few more pages of my manuscript.





I'm really having trouble with the genre too...

#2 Carson Spencer

Carson Spencer

    Carson, son of Scott and heir to the Kingdom of Spencer

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 59 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South
  • Publishing Experience:None

Posted 05 December 2010 - 06:06 PM

Sounds like my kind of story. Everybody has different opinions as far as query letters go and a lot seem to break the rules but a few things that seem to be uniform to everyone. Move your title and word count to the end. You want to start out with something that peaks the agents interest. Title and word count don't reallly do it for them.

Also you can leave out your bio if you have no publishing experiance. Although your bio shows a passion for writing that can be assumed by the fact that you were willing to write a 97,000 word novel. Either that or your insane, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for an author.

Good luck and have fun with your query.

#3 Mark Friedlander

Mark Friedlander

    AQ.Leverage Refugee

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 633 posts
  • Literary Status:self-published, unagented
  • LocationUS Southeast
  • Publishing Experience:Indie publications of The Kewpie Killer, Life's a Beach Then You Die, Payback's a Beach

Posted 05 December 2010 - 07:33 PM

Disclaimer goes here: My queries haven't exactly created a path to my door, but I have managed to get a couple of full and partial requests.

I don't think I'd lead off with. "Please consider The Descendant, the first book of The Artisan’s Seal series, a mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words." I think you may be more successful if you start with THE HOOK.

Gee. I used BOLD, underline and italics. I would made it flash if I could have figured out how.

I'd start with, "Dragged into a world of elites in power, Maissa, in her weakest state, has everyone around her, but no one to help her." and tweak that sentence for maximum benefit. I would also leave out the business about the series. I understand that agents want your manuscript to be able to stand alone. You can talk about future plans after you start talking with the agent about representation.

Falafel Jones.net
Kewpie Killer
Paper or plastic digital 51nLuiQDVjL._SL110_.jpg51ZiyrardhL._SL110_.jpg51IDRMxZ2EL._SL110_.jpg51Bjjx6HDYL._SL110_.jpg


#4 Guinevere

Guinevere

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 65 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:I have published poems in Cicada and Windhover.

Posted 05 December 2010 - 09:02 PM

Please consider The Descendant, the first book of The Artisan’s Seal series, a mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.There's nothing wrong with this opening, but it's generally considered preferable to open with the hook and put word count at the end.

Dragged into a world of elites in power, Maissa, in her weakest state, has everyone around her, but no one to help her. Honestly, this doesn't make a lot of sense to me. "Elites in power" seems rather vague, and "everyone around her" is confusing to me - who is everyone? Family? Friends? Were they dragged into the world of elites too?

Maissa Jordan, 17 years old, doesn’t know very much about her family. She has no idea what her parents do or where they work, and she’s not very fond of her mother. When Maissa’s father adopts her best friend Amber and the little boy Sami, he moves them to Maissa’s deceased grandparents’ home. There, with her parents absent as usual, Maissa has one thing on her mind: keeping the new members of her family safe and content.I think perhaps this could be summarized more succintly - "When Maissa Jordan's father adopts her best friend Amber and the little boy Sami (why?), Maisa just wants to keep her new little family safe. Of course, her parents are mysterious and neglectful as ever." I just think the backstory that leads up to the confrontation with the murderers of Amber's parents can be summarized and you can get into that conflict more quickly. But just when they’re getting comfortable, the ones who caused the death of Amber’s parents turn up again, and this time, they’re demanding a certain ‘Key.’ Trying to keep everyone else out of this mess, (the neighbour and his crazy basketball friends)I'd cut the italicized, these characters don't fit in your query, important though they may be to teh story Maissa pays little attention to the illness spreading through her body. There is something that her parents are hiding, not just about themselves, but about the attackers, Amber’s parents, and the suffocating darkness taking over Maissa’s mind. When things become too much, Maissa decides to delve in and find out. She and her friends not only discover concealed stories, people, places, and powers, but also the secret to what Maissa actually is.These last two sentences form the core of your story, I think, and they seem a little vague to me. I recommend leaving out anything inessential and summarize the essence of Maissa's struggle in more specific terms.

When I first got the idea of The Artisan’s Seal into my head, I couldn’t get away from it, and it felt like a duty to write it. This is the beginning of the long tale that I’ve been working on for more than five years. I’m currently slowly making my way through the second book. I'd cut this whole paragraph. Agents don't need to know any of this.

Thank you so much for your time, and please let me know if you would like to see a few more pages of my manuscript. The offer of your full manuscript on request is implied b your querying, so I'd cut the italicized. Make sure you include whatever they ask for - if it's the first five pages or just the first page or pages and a synopsis... you probably already know that, but just wanted to mention.

Your story sounds interesting, you just need to tighten up the query a bit! Good luck!



I'm really having trouble with the genre too...With the age of your narrator (not knowing the tone of your story) could it be YA? Is this set in the contemporary world?

#5 RileyRedgate

RileyRedgate

    Ant, the Quixotic Query Quibbler

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,994 posts
  • Literary Status:published, agented
  • LocationUS Southeast
  • Publishing Experience:My debut novel, SEVEN WAYS WE LIE, was released in March 2016 by Abrams and optioned for film by Jane Startz Productions. My sophomore novel, NOTEWORTHY, hits shelves May 2017.

Posted 05 December 2010 - 10:41 PM

Hey there!
---
Dear _________ :
Please consider The Descendant, the first book of The Artisan’s Seal series, a mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.
I second/third/whatever what everyone's been saying - this comes second to a killer hook. Sneak it in later; it's not as consequential.

Dragged into a world of elites in power, Maissa, in her weakest state, has everyone around her, but no one to help her.
Okay. This hook raises a heck of a lot of questions in my mind:
1) Which elites?
2) What power (social, economic, political)?
3) What's Maissa's last name?
4) What is her weakest state (physical, mental, emotional)?
5) Who is everyone (family, friends, strangers)?
6) Who drags her there?
I'd pare it down to the top few questions that need answering. Something like "When Maissa _____ finds herself in an unfamiliar world of elite underwater basket-weavers, she must claw her way through the basket-weavers' ranks to prove herself worthy to the Grand Basket-Weaver Mugwump." Or, "Maissa _____ wakes up in an unfamiliar world, completely unable to speak or walk, and in this weakened state she must learn to survive." Or, well, that one sort of sucks, but, you get the picture. Pick a conflict, isolate it. Here you've got 1) personal weakness, 2) being surrounded by a world she's unused to, and 3) an inability of others to save her. I would choose the central one to focus on, whichever that may be.


Maissa Jordan a-ha!, 17 years old, doesn’t know very much about her family. She has no idea what her parents do or where they work, and she’s not very fond of her mother.
Whoa whoa hold up. This is a LOT to deal with. In fact, it's quite close to feeling surreal (I'm thinking Spy Kids) so I might even make this anecdotal to help with the reader's suspension of disbelief, something like this:
"Maissa hates talking about her family. When her classmates ask what her parents do, she has to tell them the embarrassing truth: "I don't know.""


When Maissa’s father adopts her (after reading the rest of this paragraph, I think it's best to insert "recently-orphaned" here.) best friend Amber and the little boy Which little boy? If you're going to return to him, I'd label him otherwise so we remember him. "a young orphaned boy named", or "an elementary schooler named", or something. Sami, he moves them to Maissa’s deceased grandparents’ home [before vanishing off to another one of his innumerable business trips? Something like that to set up for the next sentence.] There, with her parents absent as usual, Maissa has one thing on her mind: keeping the new members of her family safe and content. But just when they’re getting comfortable, the ones who caused the death of Amber’s parents turn up again, and this time, they’re demanding a certain ‘Key.’ Trying to keep everyone else out of this mess, (the neighbour and his crazy basketball friends) haha. a little less specificity here, and no parentheses, please. "Trying to keep neighbors, classmates, and the rest of the world from getting involved in this mess," Maissa pays little attention to maybe 'doesn't have the time to worry about'? just plain ignoring it sounds a bit foolhardy. the illness spreading through her body The illness? Like cancer? if it's caused by the murderers of Amber's parents, explicitly state that here.. There is something that her parents are hiding How does Maissa realize this? Does she find something in the house to clue her in? Mention it, please. Feels like there's a sentence missing here., not just about themselves, but about the attackers, Amber’s parents, and the suffocating darkness taking over Maissa’s mind. When things become too much, Maissa decides to delve in and find out. She and her friends not only discover concealed stories, people, places, and powers, but also the secret to what Maissa actually is.

When I first got the idea of The Artisan’s Seal into my head, I couldn’t get away from it, and it felt like a duty to write it. This is the beginning of the long tale that I’ve been working on for more than five years. I’m currently slowly making my way through the second book.
Sigh. I wish agents liked to read this stuff as much as we like to tell them about it, but sadly, this entire paragraph can be sliced down to "The Artisan's Seal can be a standalone novel, but is also the first in a series. I'm in the process of writing the second."

Thank you so much for your time, and please let me know if you would like to see a few more pages of my manuscript.
Oh, they will, haha. Or, at least, we hope they will! That's assumed, so just cut it and leave in 'Thank you so much for your time.'





I'm really having trouble with the genre too... Oh boy, do I know how you feel!


I'm reaaally interested by your concept. The query could use tightening, but I can tell it's something I'd enjoy reading.

Overall, you've got quite a bit of background but very little of the actual conflict. Where do the elites come back in? Could you introduce more of the conflict's stakes, or specific antagonists? I'd like to meet 'em.

Best of luck with the query! If you rewrite I'll be sure to check it out.

author of SEVEN WAYS WE LIE and NOTEWORTHY

rep: Caryn Wiseman, Andrea Brown Literary Agency

 

i tweet!


#6 sgf

sgf

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 47 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS Northwest
  • Publishing Experience:short story published

Posted 05 December 2010 - 11:19 PM

Hey Ice,

Here's another review of your query. Before I delve into the nitpicks, I think you have a lot of interesting ideas. My biggest suggestion is to let them shine in the query by providing details. I felt there were too many mysteries for me to get a good grasp of the elements of the story.



Please consider The Descendant, the first book of The Artisan’s Seal series, a mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.Yeah, like everyone else says, I think you put this at the end. :biggrin:

Dragged into a world of elites in power, Maissa, in her weakest state, has everyone around her, but no one to help her. I'd probably nix this line too. It's so vague as to not really mean anything yet. I have no idea what "elites in power" means (OK, well aren't elites always in power, or people in power always elites? Anyway, it's not specific enough. Also, "weakest state" could mean lots of things: mentally? physically? both? Again, it needs to be more specific-- why is she weak? And finally, I wondered why no one around her could help her. "Everyone" is not specific enough, and I wondered help her with what?

Maissa Jordan, 17 years old, doesn’t know very much about her family. She has no idea what her parents do or where they work, and she’s not very fond of her mother.
Consider explaining why she doesn't know anything about her family. She has to know something about her mother, or else why isn't she fond of her? When Maissa’s father adopts her best friend Amber and the little boy Sami, he moves them to Maissa’s deceased grandparents’ home. There, with her parents absent as usual, Maissa has one thing on her mind: keeping the new members of her family safe and content.Here I wondered: why does she worry about keeping them safe? A normal 17 year old would be thinking about lots of other stuff other than her adopted siblings. But just when they’re getting comfortable, the ones who caused the death of Amber’s parents turn up again, and this time, they’re demanding a certain ‘Key.’So do they have the key? I think you need to say where it is, and maybe even why it's being sought. Trying to keep everyone else out of this mess, (the neighbour and his crazy basketball friends)There's already enough going on in this query, that this part could probably be removed. Maissa pays little attention to the illness spreading through her bodyWhat illness does she have? Consider being detailed here.. There is something that her parents are hiding, not just about themselves, but about the attackers, Amber’s parents, and the suffocating darkness taking over Maissa’s mind.What are they hiding? I think you're maybe putting too much mystery in the query. When things become too much, Maissa decides to delve in and find out. She and her friends not only discover concealed stories, people, places, and powers, but also the secret to what Maissa actually is. OK, but it's not clear how things become too much yet.

I think the 2 things that can improve this query are:

1. More details (sorry I know I'm repeating myself)
2. A stronger sense of conflict. You introduce the protagonist, but I think you should focus on what she wants and how she's going to get it, as well as what happens if she doesn't get it.


When I first got the idea of The Artisan’s Seal into my head, I couldn’t get away from it, and it felt like a duty to write it. This is the beginning of the long tale that I’ve been working on for more than five years. I’m currently slowly making my way through the second book. I'd cut this part, because agents probably don't want to know why you wrote something; they're likely only interested if they can sell it; that's their job.

Thank you so much for your time, and please let me know if you would like to see a few more pages of my manuscript.





I'm really having trouble with the genre too...Sounds like YA, borderline fantasy or urban fantasy to me, but maybe I'm wrong.

Hope this helps!

[/quote]

#7 Ice

Ice

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 17 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:...none...

Posted 05 December 2010 - 11:19 PM

You people are amazing! I'm working on revising it right this instant - and I'll post it when I'm done.

Thanks so much!

#8 Pat Megahey

Pat Megahey

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 34 posts
  • Literary Status:emerging
  • LocationUS Northeast

Posted 06 December 2010 - 12:24 AM

Looking forward to seeing the revised version. I'm in agreement with the others. There were a lot of questions, and you need a good hook. Best of luck, Pat

#9 Ice

Ice

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 17 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:...none...

Posted 06 December 2010 - 04:43 AM

Finally! I've NEVER worked this hard on anything!
Here's the revised version:

Dear _________ :

It was just a call to the police about someone beating up a man in an alley, but it turned 17 year old Maissa Jordan’s life into a frenzy of attacks by a group of strangers wanting revenge for a ‘Steven,’ and demanding an unknown ‘Key.’

Maissa’s parents have always been away for work, and when her father adopts her recently orphaned friend, Amber, and her little brother Sami, she makes it her duty to keep a normal life running for them. But even after moving, they’re randomly attacked by people working for a man named Michael. The attackers claim that they’re asking for something of their own, and that Maissa has no right to it being a Jordan. Since her childhood, Maissa has learned to ignore the mysteries surrounding her parents, but with her new friends’ and siblings’ life at stake, she wants answers. Did the murder of Amber’s parents have a connection to her mother? Was it a coincidence that Steven was in an alley so close to her old house? As Maissa comes closer to the truth, a growing pain in her body increases, and something in her mind warns her of a looming peril. With every move causing her to crumple, Amber in the hospital, and Sami kidnapped, Maissa’s parents’ finally come to her aid with an enthralling man in authority, exposing her to a world of elites with a supernatural power.

Please consider The Artisan’s Seal, a YA mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.




A few things: The story actually sort of goes in that order. The exposing of the 'world of elites' doesn't actually come till the last few chapters because it was written as a series, with this as only the beginning. The book is much more mystery than anything else, and even in the end, it opens up to new mysteries, so I had no idea what to say about the elites with supernatural power without going into the second book. That would make it super long...
Maissa doesn't know very much about the 'enthralling man' yet, so I didn't know what to say about WHY he's enthralling either...

Oh, and one more thing - The Artisan Seal is the name of the series, and The Descendant is the first book - should I be saying 'Please consider the Descendant' or 'The Artisan's Seal'? I like the sound of 'Artisan's Seal' personally... :P

#10 C. Taylor

C. Taylor

    Subsisting on Pots of Tea

  • Group Moderator
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 8,300 posts
  • Literary Status:published, self-published, agented
  • LocationUS Northeast
  • Publishing Experience:I'm a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author writing under the pen name, Cali MacKay and write fun and steamy contemporary romances, in addition to erotica, paranormal romances and mysteries. I also write steampunk romances under the pen name Calista Taylor.

Posted 06 December 2010 - 07:22 AM

It was just a call to the police about someone beating up a man in an alley, but it turned When 17 year old Maissa Jordan’s finds a beat up man in the alley near her home, her life turns into a frenzy of attacks by a group of strangers wanting revenge for a man she does not know ‘Steven,’ and demanding an the return of an unknown ‘Key.’ This is ok as a hook, but I think you could come up with something stronger.

Maissa’s parents have always been away for work, and when her father adopts her recently orphaned friend, Amber, and her little brother Sami, she makes it her duty to keep a normal life running for them. But even after moving, they’re randomly attacked by people working for a man named Michael. The attackers claim that they’re asking for something of their own, and that Maissa has no right to it being a Jordan. Since her childhood, Maissa has learned to ignore the mysteries surrounding her parents(what mysteries), but with her new friends’ and siblings’ life at stake, she wants answers. Did the murder of Amber’s parents have a connection to her mother (why does she think this? You need to let us know)? Was it a coincidence that Steven was in an alley so close to her old house? As Maissa comes closer to the truth, a growing pain in her body increases, and something in her mind warns her of a looming peril. With every move causing her to crumple, Amber in the hospital, and Sami kidnapped, Maissa’s parents’ finally come to her aid with an enthralling man in authority, exposing her to a world of elites with a supernatural power. This section here feels like you're telling me ABOUT the story instead of showing it to me. As a result, it feels vague and distant.

Please consider The Artisan’s Seal, a YA mystery/magical realism story, complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you.




A few things: The story actually sort of goes in that order. The exposing of the 'world of elites' doesn't actually come till the last few chapters because it was written as a series, with this as only the beginning. The book is much more mystery than anything else, and even in the end, it opens up to new mysteries, so I had no idea what to say about the elites with supernatural power without going into the second book. That would make it super long... Just deal with THIS book, but if you need to reference what they truly are because it's important to the story, do so without really explaining. That's the beauty of a query-- you don't need to give them everything. If they want to find out what the elites are, they can ask for the manuscript.
Maissa doesn't know very much about the 'enthralling man' yet, so I didn't know what to say about WHY he's enthralling either...

Oh, and one more thing - The Artisan Seal is the name of the series, and The Descendant is the first book - should I be saying 'Please consider the Descendant' or 'The Artisan's Seal'? I like the sound of 'Artisan's Seal' personally... :P Don't mention this is a series. You're querying The Descendant, plain and simple. Every book is a series, in my opinion, and I think agents likely assume the the same. Hope this helps.

Cali MacKay

        FREE

51HdjDwZKxL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-51Ekbyv33TL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-51HnUjguTHL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-511uTCIPFnL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-51-y12BGRPL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-51LB9MAkXgL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-612uyFf1xML._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-61y0ZMZ-%2BaL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arro51J-PsyEZoL._SL500_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-

 


#11 Carson Spencer

Carson Spencer

    Carson, son of Scott and heir to the Kingdom of Spencer

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 59 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationUS South
  • Publishing Experience:None

Posted 06 December 2010 - 08:50 AM

Here is another way to do the hook by just cutting it down. It is a little to much info for one sentance.

It was just a call to the police about someone beating up a man in an alley, but it turned 17 year old Maissa Jordan’s life into a frenzy of attacks by a group of strangers wanting revenge for a ‘Steven,’ and demanding an unknown ‘Key.’

In my opinion details should be left for the summery. A lot of improvement since your first letter. Keep it up.

#12 Ice

Ice

    New Member

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 17 posts
  • Literary Status:just starting
  • LocationCanada
  • Publishing Experience:...none...

Posted 08 December 2010 - 11:10 PM

Thanks guys, I got a little busy with some work, but I'm gonna go back to my query and try to improve it as much as I can! I'll post it once I get a decent one ready.

:-)




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users