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Twin Shivers Query Letter

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#1 sheri

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 08:01 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I excited and nervous to share my query letter for critique.  I will appreciate all of the constructive criticism and I thank you in advance.

 

May 26, 2019

 

Literary Agency

Attn:  

 

Dear Ms. ,

 

Have you ever gotten the shivers and then looked around you wondering where they came from?

 

I am currently seeking representation for my complete 86,500-word novel, “Twin Shivers,” and after reading through your agency website, I think we can be a great fit. My novel is a suspense/thriller/fantasy with a sci-fi kick that will appeal to young adults as well as adults who want the suspense and intensity of a great book!  I feel it has a Dean Koontz semblance with my own writing flair. 

 

Twin Shivers is a gut-wrenching story about a woman traveling through worlds desperately trying to get back to her family and her life that was stolen!

 

Piper Lee Willow loves her life.  She is a confident career woman with a loving and devoted family. Enter - another Piper Lee Willow – from another world.  Same husband, same kids, same grand kids…except this Piper also has a set of twins! Not being able to resist meeting her twins, Piper heads to the other world through a magical pond with a portal only to find tragedy.  Her life plummeted into a nightmare on top of learning that there were never any twins!  

 

Her endeavor to get back to her world was not as easy as she had hoped.  She couldn’t seem to find the right one.  During her travels, she was beaten, stabbed and thrown into a Mental Institution, all in different worlds.    Piper did make it back to her world and there was a struggle between the two Pipers.  The “evil” Piper got stuck in the portal as it shrunk around her.  Did she make it out alive?  Will she come back?

 

I love writing.  It is a wonderful and satisfying passion for me as well.  This story started out as the most vivid and lengthy dream I have ever had.  The inspiration to write was not an option, but an obsession.  The story just flowed right through me.  I am so excited to share it!

 

I have been thoughtful in trying to compare with other similar books about portal travel.  One is “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman where she travels to a worse world.  Another book is a murderous portal traveler called, “The Shining Girls” by Lauren Buekes.

 

I am currently outlining the sequel to “Twin Shivers”.

 

Thank you in advance for reading my work and considering representation.  I have included the first 10 pages and synopsis per your submission guidelines. I did not include the prologue but will be happy to forward upon request.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Sheri L. Strobaugh

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Sheri Strobaugh


#2 lnloft

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Posted 26 May 2019 - 09:17 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I excited and nervous to share my query letter for critique.  I will appreciate all of the constructive criticism and I thank you in advance.

 

May 26, 2019

 

Literary Agency

Attn:  

 

Dear Ms. ,

 

Have you ever gotten the shivers and then looked around you wondering where they came from? Rhetorical questions are a big no-no in queries. Starting with one is tantamount to query suicide.

 

I am currently seeking representation for my complete 86,500-word novel, “Twin Shivers,” TWIN SHIVERS [just put your title in all-caps] and after reading through your agency website, I think we can be a great fit. My novel is a suspense/thriller/fantasy with a sci-fi kick that will appeal to young adults as well as adults Ah, genre overload. :blink: This doesn't make it seem like your book has a wide-ranging appeal; it makes it seem like you don't know where it belongs on a bookshelf. Pick one or maybe two if you really have to, and then commit to either YA or adult. What you've just described may be true of your book, but think about it this way: an agent is going to want to market your book, and that means they want to know where to put it in the bookstore. There's not a suspense/thriller/fantasy with a bit of sci-fi for young adults and adults shelf. So, first, is it going to go in the YA section, or the adult section? And then what subset shelf is it going to fit in there? That's what you need. Short and sweet on the genre. who want the suspense and intensity of a great bookOkay, personal pet peeve, but I hate exclamation points with a burning passion.  I feel it has a Dean Koontz He's a bit too big of a name to use as a comp. semblance with my own writing flair. 

 

Twin Shivers is a gut-wrenching story about a woman traveling through worlds desperately trying to get back to her family and her life that was stolen! This line is unnecessary. Don't tell us what the story is about, just jump into the query and show us.

 

Piper Lee Willow loves her life.  She is a confident career woman with a loving and devoted family. Need a snappier hook. Something that grabs the attention right off the bat. Why should I care about a happy protagonist with no problems? Doesn't seem to be much of a story in that. And I know you do that to set up how it falls apart later, but by that point it's too late. Agents might only read as far into your query until they lose interest. So you need to grab them straight away. Enter - another Piper Lee Willow – from another world. Why are there dashes (okay, a hyphen and a dash) around the name? That's not how dashes work.  Same husband, same kids, same grandkids [no space in grandkids]…except this Piper also has a set of twins!  Not being able to resist meeting her twins, Piper heads to the other world through a magical pond with a portal only to find tragedy.  Her life plummeted into a nightmare on top of learning that there were never any twins! What? I have no idea what is happening right now. There were twins (but that meant nothing to me because I didn't know Piper didn't have twins, if that makes sense), but there were actually no twins. And what nightmare is her life now in? Specifics are so key in queries. Also, even if I didn't have exclamation points, you've definitely overused them by this point.

 

Her endeavor to get back to her world was not as easy as she had hoped.  She couldn’t seem to find the right one.  During her travels, she was beaten, stabbed and thrown into a Mmental Iinstitution, all in different worlds.    Piper did make it back to her world and there was a struggle between the two Pipers.  The “evil” Piper got stuck in the portal as it shrunk around her.  Did she make it out alive?  Will she come back? I am so confused. What is happening in the story? Since when has the other Piper been "evil" (and why is "evil" in quotations)? Not to mention that you've shifted tense: this should still be present tense. And you end with another pair of rhetorical questions.

 

I love writing.  It is a wonderful and satisfying passion for me as well.  This story started out as the most vivid and lengthy dream I have ever had.  The inspiration to write was not an option, but an obsession.  The story just flowed right through me.  I am so excited to share it! Sorry, agents don't care.

 

I have been thoughtful in trying to compare with other similar books about portal travel.  One is “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman where she travels to a worse world.  Another book is a murderous portal traveler called, “The Shining Girls” by Lauren Buekes. This information should go in the same paragraph where you introduce title, genre, and word count. Just phrase it as something like: TWIN SHIVERS will appeal to fans of... But also, I'm afraid Coraline is not a good comp, simply because it has been made into a movie. You want to keep comps recent (I've heard varying accounts from within the last three to five years), things that are not ridiculously popular, and things that have not been adapted into movies or TV. The reason to keep things recent is to show you understand the current market, and the popularity and adaptation thing is to show that you actually read the genre you're talking about. Like if someone uses Harry Potter as their comp, it makes you wonder if they've read any YA fantasy other than HP.

 

I am currently outlining the sequel to “Twin Shivers”. Can TWIN SHIVERS be a stand-alone novel? If yes, great, then just say, in the same paragraph as you have title and word count, that it has "series potential". If it can't stand alone, if it requires the sequel to have resolution, then go back to your manuscript, revise it so that it stands alone, and then say it has "series potential". Agents don't know how well your book is going to sell. If it makes money, then they'll be happy to build off that success and get the sequel off and running. If it does poorly, then they won't want to waste the money publishing the sequel, and then the people who actually read your book are going to be upset because they will have a story with no resolution.

 

Thank you in advance for reading my work and considering representation.  I have included the first 10 pages and synopsis per your submission guidelines. I did not include the prologue but will be happy to forward upon request.

 

 

Sincerely,

 

 

Sheri L. Strobaugh

Address

Phone Number

Email 

Oof, alright. If it makes you feel any better, my first draft of a query got torn to pieces. But I kept revising, spent a lot of time critiquing other queries, and have gotten a couple requests off of older drafts that I sent out. So it's totally doable.

 

So, first off, the easy stuff, cut out the chaff. The agents don't care about your passion for writing or your inspiration. They read 100 queries a day, so don't bog them down with extra details. The sweet spot for query word count is 250; yours clocks in at a whopping 418. Slice out the extraneous and be more efficient with other points. Compare: TWIN SHIVERS (86,500 words) is a fantasy that will appeal to fans of Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" and Lauren Buekes's "The Shining Girls". In 22 words, I got across the title, genre, word count, and comps. That's all you need to spend on those things. Save your words for selling the story itself.

 

And for the story, find a clear way to lay it out. You're not trying to tell the whole story, mind; a query is usually covering about the first quarter to third of your book. It's kind of like the back blurb in that sense, although they still have different purposes and different styles. Usually a good place to start your hook is with the inciting incident. As an exercise, try writing some lines describing the inciting incident as a "When" statement. "When Piper meets her twin from another world, she...?" You are by no means obligated to stick with a "when" statement for the actual hook in your query, but "when" statements are good starting points to get you thinking about what should be the focus of the query.

 

Once you've got that inciting incident as a hook, delve into the meat of the story. Piper follows her twin into this other world, and then? Be specific. Details are not just your friends, they are your salvation. Details are what make your book pop out from all the other stories out there. Show us what happens on the other side of the portal. And you might be asking, "But how do I fit in all the details if I only have 250 words to work with?" And that's a great question, and the answer is with difficulty. Query writing isn't easy. You've got to pick and choose exactly what you need and what can be tossed to the wind for purposes of the query. If you go through old drafts of my query, you'll see details will come and go as I decide whether they're important for any given iteration.

 

Anyway, once you've got the meat of the query down, end on the stakes. What does Piper want? To get home? To live peacefully with this other Piper? I'm not clear on that right now. So make it clear what your character wants, what is in the way, and what happens if she doesn't get it. And again, at this point, you should be about a quarter to a third of the way through your story. Now you've shown us how it begins and what's at stake, and we'll want to ask for the book so we can find out how it ends.

 

Query writing sucks. It's way worse than writing your novel, most of us seem to agree. And the fact that I tore this apart has absolutely no bearing on your story or you as an author. Again, my query's first draft got thrashed. I've seen it happen to so many others on this board. But then those people take the advice, turn it around, and pop out a very workable second draft. So you've got some work ahead of you, but you've also got this. Good luck.


Please note I'm also posting on behalf of people who can't sign up, so if I provide a link in the main body of the post, make sure to reciprocate on that thread.


#3 sheri

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 12:09 PM

Thank you so much.  I appreciate every critique. I can see all the fluff that needs removing and length. I will re-work and bring it down to around 250 words.

Thanks again

Sheri Strobaugh


#4 sheri

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Posted 27 May 2019 - 02:03 PM

I took everything you said to heart, did the suggested changes and now my query is just under 250 words. Thanks again, I agreed with everything you said.

NEW QUERY:

May 26, 2019

Literary Agency
Attn:

Dear Ms. ,

I am seeking representation for my complete 86,500-word novel, TWIN SHIVERS, and after reading through your agency website, I think we can be a great fit with this sci-fi/fantasy for adult readers.

With the shock of her life, Piper Lee Willow comes face to face with herself. Same husband, same kids, except this Piper also had a set of twins. How was that possible? Not being able to resist meeting the twins she never had, Piper headed to the other world through a portal. Besides finding out that portals existed, she was trying to wrap her head around a parallel universe. Meanwhile, the other Piper was enjoying her new family.

All Piper had to do is get back to her world but she couldn’t seem to find it. She discovered there were multiple worlds. During her travels, she was beaten, stabbed and thrown into a mental institution, all because of what the other Piper had done in the past. She lost her family in a tragic accident. It drove her so crazy that she began finding her family in other worlds. She would do anything to get them back.

My writing credits include short stories published with online sites.

Thank you in advance for considering representation. I have included the first 10 pages and synopsis per your submission guidelines.


Best Regards,

Sheri L. Strobaugh

Sheri Strobaugh


#5 Lucian

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 12:02 AM

Hi Sheri,

 

 

 

I am seeking representation for my complete 86,500-word novel, TWIN SHIVERS, and after reading through your agency website, I think we can be a great fit with this sci-fi/fantasy for adult readers.

With the shock of her life, Piper Lee Willow comes face to face with herself. I think you need to rework this somehow. It might be just me, but I first imagined Piper was on some sort of metaphysical journey, until I read further. Same husband, same kids, except this Piper also had a set of twins. How was that possible? Not being able to resist meeting the twins she never had I mean, meeting the twins is nice, but if she's face2face with her doppleganger, then some twins wouldn't really be her main concern right? I'd have a ton of questions for her. Maybe she was supposed to have twins in her world too, but miscarried or something. Then I'd get how that would be the main attraction to a parallel world., Piper headed to the other world through a portal. Besides finding out that portals existed, she was trying to wrap her head around a parallel universe. Meanwhile, the other Piper was enjoying her new family. It doesn't seem the twins play a very important role in the story. From what you wrote here it seems more like a convenient plot device to me.

All Piper had to do is get back to her world Why was this all she had to do? Isn't anything else happening in a parallel universe? but she couldn’t seem to find it. She discovered there were multiple worlds. During her travels, she was beaten, stabbed and thrown into a mental institution, all because of what the other Piper had done in the past. She lost her family in a tragic accident. It drove her so crazy that she began finding her family in other worlds. She would do anything to get them back. This last part seems to be describing the other Piper, but I had to read it twice to realize that. Also, this being the last paragraph, it's supposed to raise the stakes and leave us wanting more. If all that happens is Piper wanders around running without a goal, then I don't think it works. She wants to get back, but the actual story is what she does in order to get back to her world before the other Piper ruins her life right? Let everyone know the consequences of what will happen if she doesn't get back. Not only for Piper but for her family. I assume the other Piper is a danger, right? Show us.

My writing credits include short stories published with online sites.

Thank you in advance for considering representation. I have included the first 10 pages and synopsis per your submission guidelines.

 

 

 

Take what I said with a grain of salt as always. I think you can do this. The query just needs to be more lean and focused.

 

Best of luck going forward,

Lucian


Please check out my query if you have the time. I greatly appreciate honest feedback.

http://agentquerycon...ntasy/?p=360969


#6 sheri

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Posted 30 May 2019 - 10:46 AM

Thank you Lucian. The toughest part has been trying to get this query to sound intriguing and fascinating. I appreciate all of your suggestions and will re-work this query until it makes more clear sense.

Thanks again,

Sheri

Sheri Strobaugh






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