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SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Slipstream)


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#1 CorinR

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 07:33 PM

*****LATEST REVISION #22*****

Hi all,

I've been working on this query and would love some feedback. Writing the query letter in some ways is harder than writing the novel!

Thanks, Corin



Dear Agent:

Tune in to the Soundless Laser Light Symphony tonight at 10 p.m. Load up on Gummy Tummies, insert the provided upgrades into the corresponding slot on your acu-tank, lean back, turn up the 5.1, and let all flame colors make love for your listening pleasure.

SUBTERRAN, complete at 45,000 words, follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life--as long as he can go through as many lovers and cheap thrills as he wants. When he's mistakenly summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, he winds up falling in love with his assigned procreation partner, Mari, a mute who communicates through a tablet embedded in her stomach. But when Generik's newest venture, project EternaLife, threatens the well-being of Mari and his son, Jonah must decide what's truly important to him, and come to terms with his own surgically-artificial youth and rapidly declining health. SUBTERRAN takes you through this twisted underground world in an absurdist, hallucinatory, time-shifting, poetic assault that questions how we perceive others, our environment, and ourselves in a modern society not unlike our own.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian, some under the pen name Corin Reyburn. I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success.

The first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio are attached. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a modern-day Brave New World, or the movie Dark City. I believe the style of the language and the timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre chasm. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration, and hope that you find something in the work which resonates with you.

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#2 RPH

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 08:31 PM

Hi all,

I've been working on this query and would love some feedback. Writing the query letter in some ways is harder than writing the novel!

Thanks, Corin



Dear Agent:

Tune in to the Soundless Laser Light Symphony tonight at 10 p.m. Load up on Gummy Tummies, insert the provided upgrades into the corresponding slot on your acu-tank, lean back, turn up the 5.1, and let all flame colors make love for your listening pleasure.[I just don't get this. It doesn't seem related to the rest of your query letter and after reading your query letter I can't tell how it relates to your book.]

SUBTERRAN [like the name, especially considering the geographical location], complete at 45,000 words, follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik [again, like the name], a socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life--as long as he can go through as many lovers and cheap thrills as he wants. When he's mistakenly summoned to take place [When he unwittingly enrolls] in the government's Procreation Project, he winds up falling in love with his assigned procreation [too much procreation - it's such an unwieldy word, I'd only use it once]partner, Mari, a mute who communicates through a tablet embedded in her stomach[wouldn't that get in the way during procreation?]. But when Generik's newest venture, project EternaLife, threatens the well-being of Mari and his son, Jonah must decide what's truly important to him, and come to terms with his own surgically-artificial youth and rapidly declining health[Aside from being an awkward sentence, I don't get it - Why is Jonah's health rapidly declining and why does he have to come to terms with his artificial youth? I'm making a big deal of this sentence because it seems like this is the main conflict in your book. And it seems like this should be the hook of your query letter]. SUBTERRAN takes you through this twisted underground world in an absurdist, hallucinatory, time-shifting, poetic assault that questions how we perceive others, our environment, and ourselves in a modern society not unlike our own["Whoa!" said like Tony Danza or Joey Lawrence, depending on your generation. You just gotta rewrite this sentence].

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian, some under the pen name Corin Reyburn. I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success[Some of this seems good to mention; some of this does not].

The first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio are attached[I would individualize what you send depending on the agent's request. IMO, the first three chapters are too much to send with your query, unless requested by the agent. If you want to send pages, I'd limit it to five]. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a modern-day Brave New World, or the movie Dark City. I believe the style of the language and the timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre chasm. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration, and hope that you find something in the work which resonates with you.



Corin, Take my suggestions with several grains of salt - yours is the first query letter that I have critiqued. I agree with you that writing the query is more difficult than the novel. I got more furrows in my brow from my 250-word query letter than I did from my 80,000-word novel. Good luck with your work!

#3 khaulamazhar

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:43 AM

The hook didn't make any sense at all to me, sorry maybe I've had to much chocolate. But the story seems wow. I like the names too, though. But I don't think a tablet embedded in her stomach will interfere, someone needs a physiology lesson :wink: .But is this point so important that you need to mention it here?

" I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success.It depends on who you are sending this to. Some agents actually ask you to tell them what your plans are to advertise your own book, that scared the heck out of me :blink:
Your last paragraph also depends on who you are sending it to. Agents in the US tell you never to send attachments, only a few sample pages in the body of the email( if they ask). And UK agents almost always ask you to include the attachments that you have mentioned, so don't forget to read the agent's website so many times that you know it by heart and send them exactly what they ask you to. Some agents are so mean :unsure: they say they will not bother to even read your stuff if you send something that doesn't match their instructions :humph: This is a good place to find out who wants what: http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/
Good luck :smile:


#4 Alice in Wonderland

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:48 AM

Hi all,

I've been working on this query and would love some feedback. Writing the query letter in some ways is harder than writing the novel!

Thanks, Corin



Dear Agent:

Tune in to the Soundless Laser Light Symphony tonight at 10 p.m. Load up on Gummy Tummies, insert the provided upgrades into the corresponding slot on your acu-tank, lean back, turn up the 5.1, and let all flame colors make love for your listening pleasure. [I like that you are trying to be creative with your hook, but this comes across as a bit of a gimmick to me. I'd approach it from a different angle.]

SUBTERRAN, complete at 45,000 words [I always like to put that at the end, but it's a personal preference.], follows [If you did put that at the end you would start here -->] Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life--as long as he can go through as many lovers [Knit-picky, but I would pick a different word than 'lovers.' Based on the person he seems to be and the use of "cheap thrills," I feel like "lovers" doesn't fit the voice.] and cheap thrills as he wants. When he's mistakenly summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, he winds up falling in love with his assigned procreation partner, [Make this the start of a new sentence to avoid a run-on.] Mari, a mute who communicates through a tablet embedded in her stomach. [Try to start this sentence with something new; your last sentence was also a "when" statement.] But when Generik's newest venture, project EternaLife, threatens the well-being of Mari and his [His? This sounds like you are referring to Mari, not Jonah. Try to rephrase this. Also, is this son Mari and Jonah's son? Or did Jonah have a son before the procreation project?] son, Jonah must decide what's truly important to him, and come to terms with his own surgically-artificial youth and rapidly declining health. SUBTERRAN takes you through this twisted underground world in an absurdist, hallucinatory, time-shifting, poetic assault that questions how we perceive others, our environment, and ourselves in a modern society not unlike our own. [Avoid telling what the story does like this. Show instead.]

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian, some under the pen name Corin Reyburn. I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success.

The first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio are attached. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go [Italicize these book titles.], a modern-day Brave New World, or the movie Dark City. I believe the style of the language and the timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre chasm. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well. [This is telling again.]

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration, and hope that you find something in the work which resonates with you.


It sounds like you have a winning plot here and a nice first draft! Keep working on it and good luck. ../../../public/style_emoticons/default/biggrin.png
Got a minute? Check out my new blog! http://writerdownthe...e.blogspot.com/

#5 EddieTol

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:45 AM

Hi all,

I've been working on this query and would love some feedback. Writing the query letter in some ways is harder than writing the novel!

Thanks, Corin



Dear Agent:

Tune in to the Soundless Laser Light Symphony tonight at 10 p.m. Load up on Gummy Tummies, insert the provided upgrades into the corresponding slot on your acu-tank, lean back, turn up the 5.1, and let all flame colors make love for your listening pleasure.

SUBTERRAN, complete at 45,000 words, follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life--as long as he can go through as many lovers and cheap thrills as he wants. When he's mistakenly summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, he winds up falling in love with his assigned procreation partner, Mari, a mute who communicates through a tablet embedded in her stomach. But when Generik's newest venture, project EternaLife, threatens the well-being of Mari and his son, Jonah must decide what's truly important to him, and come to terms with his own surgically-artificial youth and rapidly declining health. SUBTERRAN takes you through this twisted underground world in an absurdist, hallucinatory, time-shifting, poetic assault that questions how we perceive others, our environment, and ourselves in a modern society not unlike our own.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian, some under the pen name Corin Reyburn. I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success.

The first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio are attached. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a modern-day Brave New World, or the movie Dark City. I believe the style of the language and the timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre chasm. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration, and hope that you find something in the work which resonates with you.


I agree with the other commenters here that this sounds interesting, but I think you are trying too hard with the tone. Based on your description, your story reads in a chaotic and disjointed fashion (on purpose) but that is hard to pull off in a one paragraph mini-synopsis.

Also, your hook is vague. What is your main conflict here. This sounds like Jonah needs to save his (mate?) and son from an EternaLife project (vague), but it's also about his facing a pivotal moment on what's 'truly important' and then there is the issue of his diminishing health and his surgically-artificial youth. Which is the main conflict here? That needs to be your hook and everything else just contributing factors.

This is tricky. You need to find a way to impart your tone (through showing) without coming across as cluttered or confusing the agent. I suggest you focus on your M/C and your main conflict and leave the rest to your synopsis or story.

Good luck,

ET -
In the real world, as in dreams, nothing is quite as it seems.

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#6 CorinR

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 03:54 PM

So much helpful feedback so far! Yes, it's a first draft, so a lot of work to be done. Really appreciate the critiques.

- Corin

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#7 CJ Brassington

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:15 PM

Hi, Corin! So far I agree with the comments that came before me... but here are my additional two cents.

Hi all,

I've been working on this query and would love some feedback. Writing the query letter in some ways is harder than writing the novel!

Thanks, Corin



Dear Agent:

Tune in to the Soundless Laser Light Symphony tonight at 10 p.m. Load up on Gummy Tummies, insert the provided upgrades into the corresponding slot on your acu-tank, lean back, turn up the 5.1, and let all flame colors make love for your listening pleasure.[this sounds like it might be a radio announcement? If so, and if you decide to leave it as your opening (not sure it works the strongest for you here-- I've been encouraged to start with your character, rather than world-building) you might consider putting it in quotes, so the agent knows you're not addressing them directly.]

SUBTERRAN, complete at 45,000 words, follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik,[I also like the names :smile: ] a socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers-that-be dictate his everyday life--as long as he can go through as many lovers and cheap thrills [sounds repetitive] as he wants. When he's mistakenly[you might not need this word here. It brings up more questions than you can answer in this small space and I don't know that it helps your query. The sentence would stand alone without it.] summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, he winds up falling in love with his assigned procreation partner, Mari, a mute who communicates through a tablet embedded in her stomach. [the details about Mari, while interesting, I think set the reader up to expect follow up, which the query fails to do] But when Generik's newest venture, project EternaLife, [maybe add a snippet describing this, instead] threatens the well-being of Mari and his their? son, Jonah must decide what's truly important to him, and come to terms with his own surgically-artificial youth and rapidly declining health. [a bit confusing because this is the first we're hearing of it. I'm assuming it has to do with project EternaLife, but it's a little vague] SUBTERRAN takes you through this twisted underground world in an absurdist, hallucinatory, time-shifting, poetic assault that questions how we perceive others, our environment, and ourselves in a modern society not unlike our own. [ :happy: That's eight modifiers in one sentence. It starts to feel like this sentence itself is absurdist. :wink: ]

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian, some under the pen name Corin Reyburn. I'm a web designer, and have familiarity with the internet marketing landscape and the role social networking plays in a book's success.

The first 3 chapters, a synopsis, and a bio are attached. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, a modern-day Brave New World, or the movie Dark City. I believe the style of the language and the timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre chasm. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration, and hope that you find something in the work which resonates with you.


Overall, this story sounds like something I would be interested to read. I don't think you are too far off from having a solidly crafted query! I'll look for revisions. (If you have a chance, check out my query UNEARTHED, too please! :happy: New eyes are so valuable on a project we are so familiar with.]
CJ Brassington
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#8 CorinR

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 12:13 AM

The suggestions here have been so helpful that I've been inspired to edit, and here is the second draft. Thanks again!

*****2nd REVISION*****

QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

--------------------------------------------
INDIVID STATS:

NAME: Jonah Von Edinbarrow
EYES: Green
HAIR: Black
HEIGHT: 5′ 6′ / 5′ 10′ with surgical alteration
BUILD: Slender/Athletic
COMPLEXION: Naturally pale w/ artificial "healthy glow"
OTHER: Razor-sharp cheekbones, walks with undue confidence and smiles like a clever fox at strangers while looking them straight in the eye. Hands on the small side. Residual memory of home life before WW fragmented.
CONCLUSION: Good for Procreation Project
--------------------------------------------



SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim. He's summoned to take place in Generik’s Procreation Project, and becomes enamored with his assigned partner, Mari. He's elected Model Citizen, and sent on an eye-opening journey above the surface, and is enlisted in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources.

Complete at 45,000 words, SUBTERRAN is an absurdist diatribe that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go or a 21st century Brave New World. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach science-fiction/literary genres. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,
me

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#9 RPH

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Posted 06 April 2012 - 02:29 PM


The suggestions here have been so helpful that I've been inspired to edit, and here is the second draft. Thanks again!

*****REVISION*****

QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

--------------------------------------------
INDIVID STATS:

NAME: Jonah Von Edinbarrow
EYES: Green
HAIR: Black
HEIGHT: 5′ 6′ / 5′ 10′ with surgical alteration
BUILD: Slender/Athletic
COMPLEXION: Naturally pale w/ artificial "healthy glow"
OTHER: Razor-sharp cheekbones, walks with undue confidence and smiles like a clever fox at strangers while looking them straight in the eye. Hands on the small side. Residual memory of home life before WW fragmented.
CONCLUSION: Good for Procreation Project [I'm pretty sure you don't want to start your query letter with this. Essentially everything I've read about querying advises one to avoid a gimmicky introduction - just go straight to your hook. I think your intro is kind of cool, but it is gimmicky. We'll see what everyone else says...]
--------------------------------------------

SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and his is good--an endless carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners. With gall and surgically-artificial youth on his side, this world is his oyster. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim. He's summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, and winds up falling in love with his assigned partner, Mari. He's elected Model Citizen and sent on an eye-opening journey where he acquires dangerous knowledge, and is enlisted in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources. [I think you have to break this paragraph up and/or tighten up your sentences. But mainly, I think you still have to drill down to the main conflict in your book and open your query letter with it. It seems like the dangerous knowledge that Jonah acquires, how it will affect him and Mari, and what he does about it is the real conflict, and that's what we should hear more about. I'd open the letter with one or two catchy sentences about the conflict and then in the next paragraph or two, get into a pertinent mini-synopsis.]


Complete at 45,000 words, SUBTERRAN is written in an absurdist, time-shifting assault that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. [I think I get what you are saying, but there's a lot going on in this sentence.] In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go or a 21st century Brave New World. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach the science-fiction/literary genre gap.[Strictly my opinion, but I'd be careful with this. I can imagine an agent hesitating about a book that doesn't fit nicely into a particular genre - especially from a debut author.] It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.


I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian. [good]

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration. [good]

Best Regards,
me


[Your book sounds interesting, and I'm excited to hear how you do when you start querying. But I'd still work on your letter, and work on it, and work on it. I really don't think it's possible to write too many drafts. And with the internet, there is an endless supply of advice and examples of other query letters. The sites I've found most helpful are this site, Agent Query, and the Query Shark blog - all definitely worth investing some time if you haven't already. Good luck!]

#10 AaronArturus

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 10:36 PM

The suggestions here have been so helpful that I've been inspired to edit, and here is the second draft. Thanks again!

*****REVISION*****

QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

--------------------------------------------
INDIVID STATS:

NAME: Jonah Von Edinbarrow
EYES: Green
HAIR: Black
HEIGHT: 5′ 6′ / 5′ 10′ with surgical alteration
BUILD: Slender/Athletic
COMPLEXION: Naturally pale w/ artificial "healthy glow"
OTHER: Razor-sharp cheekbones, walks with undue confidence and smiles like a clever fox at strangers while looking them straight in the eye. Hands on the small side. Residual memory of home life before WW fragmented.
CONCLUSION: Good for Procreation Project
--------------------------------------------

[Personally, the opener is a bit of a turn-off. I think your first paragraph works much better without the expositionary character data]

SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim. He's summoned to take place in Generik’s Procreation Project, and becomes enamored with his assigned partner, Mari. He's elected Model Citizen, and sent on an eye-opening journey above the surface, and is enlisted in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources. [I like the hook, and it starts to draw me in, but kind of stutters out in the next paragraph. Rather than comparisons with other books, I think the next paragraph could be used to go into a bit more detail about why EternaLife is so important-- what makes it dangerous/interesting/beautiful, etc. With that done, I think you'll have a much stronger query]

Complete at 45,000 words, SUBTERRAN is an absurdist diatribe that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go or a 21st century Brave New World. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers and breach science-fiction/literary genres. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate to film as well.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,
me


Just my two yen, but be sure to let us know if you post more revisions. Good luck!

#11 CorinR

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:47 PM

Great, thanks Aaron.

Wondering what people think of this hook?


Dear Agent:

Life in a glass cage is affordable and convenient. The only cost is your identity.

SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills...

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#12 RPH

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 03:56 PM

The good news: This is by far your best hook yet.

The bad: I'm not sure I get it. Having read your other query letters, I can't tell what it has to do with the rest of the story. If you can tie it in with the rest of your letter, you might be on to something, though. It did make me raise an eyebrow and wonder what comes next.

#13 CorinR

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Posted 11 April 2012 - 09:10 PM

Ok, latest edit:

*******REVISION*******


QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

Life in a glasshouse is convenient and affordable. The only cost is your identity.

SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim when he becomes involved in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources.

Complete at 45,000 words, SUBTERRAN is a bizarre, absurdist journey that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Brave New World meets Neuromancer. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers, and breach science-fiction/literary genres. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate well as a film. May I send you a partial excerpt or the full manuscript?

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#14 khaulamazhar

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 08:13 AM

I think this is pretty good, but other's might have some suggestions. If I was an agent I would ask for more, unfortunately I'm not :blink:

#15 Peter W

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 11:20 AM

Ok, latest edit:

*******REVISION*******


QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

Life in a glasshouse is convenient and affordable. The only cost is your identity. (I don't get the hook; the only connection I have between the two sentences is the assumption that living in a glasshouse will make your life viewable to people from the outside? Even that is kinda weird - remember I know nothing about your story when I read this.)

SUBTERRAN (you already mention the title in the blurb under the query; I would start differently and just jump right into the action) follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. (This is where the action starts) But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim when he becomes involved in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources. (I do not have enough "meat" to establish a clear pciture of conflict, stakes, antagonist or plot; it is just too vague IMO. Who is the victim? What are the stakes for the protagonist? The humans are lab resources - will Jonah try and save them? At what costs? Does he care? Will he risk becoming one himself?)

Complete at 45,000 words (That's not a whole lot, and the genre?), SUBTERRAN is a bizarre, absurdist journey that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own (You're telling the agent how to perceive your story, which is the agent's job based on your query and hopefully book - cut it). In comparison to known works, it's like Brave New World meets Neuromancer. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers, and breach science-fiction/literary genres It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate well as a film (Again, this could go both ways; the agent might not care that you explain what is ultimately his/her job to realize, or, what is more likely, the agent will raise a red flag for this and say no. In any case, definitely get rid of the film bit - you're selling the book). May I send you a partial excerpt or the full manuscript? (It is a given that you really want them to read your stuff, don't need to push it, cut ;) )

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian. (Good, but unless the poetry isn't in acknowledged publications, I would cut that bit)

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,


I think you have a very interesting premise, but the actual story is just not coming across. I have no clear sense of plot or the protagonist's stakes/conflicts/reaction to the experiment (which I presume is the main plot?)

Furthermore, if it was me, I'd lose the parts about what your book could be etc. unless the agents specifically instructs you to write this. As I stated, it is the agent's job to realize the potential of your book by reading the bulk of the query, which hopefully shows what it is you're unnecessarily telling in the blurb below.

If I sound harsh, it wasn't intended, at all. I like your premise, but need more meat. Just my opinions :)

Looking forward to your next revision!
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."

#16 CorinR

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Posted 12 April 2012 - 07:18 PM

Thanks Crasmer. It was harsh but I needed it, and took a lot of your suggestions. No room for ego in these things, and hearing someone else suggest taking out parts I was already unsure about is very helpful.

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#17 RPH

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 11:50 AM

Ok, Corin. You asked me to take a look at your revision. Here goes...



Ok, latest edit:

*******REVISION*******


QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Hysterical Realism)

Dear Agent:

Life in a glasshouse is convenient and affordable. The only cost is your identity. You've got to come up with a different hook: 1) It doesn't make sense - I get how living in a glass house could cost a person their identity, but why would a glass house be convenient or affordable? 2) It doesn't connect with the rest of your book. 3) Query letters are traditionally written from the third-person point of view.

SUBTERRAN follows Jonah, a self-assured opportunist who lives in Generik, a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim when he becomes involved in project EternaLife--where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal and humans are lab resources. What is project EternalLife specifically? The ultimate genetic experiment is too vague and doesn't tell us anything. What is the project? How is Jonah affected? And what is he going to do about it? That's the meat of your story. I would start your QL here.

Complete at 45,000 words, SUBTERRAN is a bizarre, absurdist journey that questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Brave New World meets Neuromancer. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers, and breach science-fiction/literary genres. It's very visual, with many outlandish characters, and could potentially translate well as a film. May I send you a partial excerpt or the full manuscript? I'd definitely leave this part out. Don't tell your agent or publisher how they're supposed to view your work. And the film part - better not to even mention that in a query for a book. The "May I send you..." part: that goes without saying. Leave this part out and use those precious words to describe your book.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have had poetry published in various magazines, and fiction in Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,



I think you're story sounds interesting, and I'd encourage you to keep working on your QL. I feel like I heard more about the main conflict (the experiment and Mari and her son) in your original QL.
RPH

#18 CorinR

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 08:06 PM

Great feedback, it's really helping me to narrow this thing down. Getting closer I hope!

*******REVISION*******

QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Slipstream)

Dear Agent:

Life in Generik Peace Colony is an exercise in 24-hour hedonism—as long as you remain up to date.

Jonah is a self-assured opportunist in a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica. He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim. He's summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, and becomes enamored with his assigned partner, Mari. When Mari gets involved in Generik’s sinister venture “EternaLife” --where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal--Jonah must leave behind his capricious lifestyle, and find a way to infiltrate a system which knows his every move.

Complete at 45,000 words and written in a surreal, absurdist style, SUBTERRAN questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Brave New World meets Neuromancer. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers, and breach science-fiction/literary genres.

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have been published in various magazines such as Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,

CORIN REYBURN drifts through Southern California teaching a bit of this and coding a bit of that, and enjoys transmuting cosmic energy, cats more than people, and the use of unconventional instruments in rock n’ roll music. Corin holds a degree in Creative Writing and Critique from Oregon State University, and will join their MFA program as a Fiction student in Fall 2018. Reyburn has work featured in places such as Medium, M-BRANE SF, Subtopian Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Jersey Devil Press, The Gateway Review, Free Focus, Silicon Valley Debug, Clutching at Straws, and Quantum Muse, and co-produces the speculative fiction podcast SubverCity Transmit. Learn more about Corin at corinreyburn.com.

 

Corin’s debut novel The Rise of Saint Fox and The Independence, about passive warfare by means of digital commerce infiltration and the sweet sweet sounds of the electric guitar, has been released by Unsolicited Press, and is now available in paperback and Kindle from Amazon and other retailers. Reyburn is currently at work on its sequel which takes place in a high-tech agricultural society in a galaxy far far away, and another unrelated novel about a genderqueer tech geek who experiences an accidental spiritual awakening.


#19 Alice in Wonderland

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 12:00 PM

Oooh, this has come so far from the earlier drafts! I love how much more of the voice comes through in this revision. One quick fix: eliminate a lot of the information you have after giving the title and word count (not counting your author's bio, of course - keep that!). Get ride of the thinks about "questioning our perception in a modern society not unlike our own" and "I believe the dark humor..." These things tell us about the novel without showing it to us, which you have done already earlier in the query. In that sentence starting with "I believe..." just tell the genre instead and don't go into telling us the rest. Also, the "modern society not unlike our own" is fairly typical of the dystopian genre (where there is a society that has taken some of our beliefs to the extreme and it ends for the worst). You would do well to leave it out.

Good work so far! Keep it up!
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#20 Peter W

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 01:29 PM

Great feedback, it's really helping me to narrow this thing down. Getting closer I hope!

*******LATEST REVISION*******

QUERY: SUBTERRAN (Literary Science Fiction, Slipstream)

Dear Agent:

Life in Generik Peace Colony is an exercise in 24-hour hedonism—as long as you remain up to date. (I'm unsure what you mean with the "up to date" part?)

Jonah is a self-assured opportunist in a high-functioning, socialistic colony beneath the surface of Antarctica (Liking this; good info, but short) . He's happy to let the powers that be dictate his everyday life, and why not? With surgically-artificial youth and good looks, he has a carousel of cheap thrills and sexual partners to entertain him. But ignorance and passivity breeds an accidental victim. (How does the ignorance sentence connect with the next one? His passivity breeds an accidental victim, but then he's summoned to partake in a project where he falls in love?) He's summoned to take place in the government's Procreation Project, and becomes enamored with his assigned partner, Mari. When Mari gets involved in Generik’s sinister venture “EternaLife” --where the ultimate genetic experiment is the goal--Jonah must leave behind his capricious lifestyle, and find a way to infiltrate a system which knows his every move. (I think you need to outline the conflict even more - and the stakes involved. What happens to Mari in the project - will they kill her, erase her memory, etc? And the "ultimate genetic experiment" sounds generic to me; in what way is it ultimate? Show me :) And if the System/Government is the thing he ends up fighting (basically the antagonist), consider giving me a bit more about the government, and perhaps earlier in the query as well). I think your closing line will benefit from clarifying/enhancing some of the stuff I mentioned)

Oh, and how does the end of the hook (up to date) connect with the bulk of the query? Perhaps this is just me, though.


Complete at 45,000 words and written in a surreal, absurdist style (you need to choose a specific genre), SUBTERRAN questions our perception in a modern society not unlike our own. In comparison to known works, it's like Brave New World meets Neuromancer. I believe the dark humor and timely commentary on our instant gratification society will allow the book to resonate with both YA and adult readers, and breach science-fiction/literary genres. (I agree with what Alice wrote regarding this para)

I reside in Santa Monica, California, and have been published in various magazines such as Quantum Muse, M-BRANE SF, and Subtopian.

I sincerely appreciate your time and consideration.

Best Regards,



This is much better than your previous one! It still needs work, but as I see it, you're in the tunnel leading out of the query maze :)

Keep at it!
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds."




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