Is This A Good Query Letter?

Nathan Bransford posted a new example of what he considers a "stellar" query letter.

I'm still trying to put my finger on why I completely disagree with him.

There are three strikes against me: I'm not an agent; I may be rejecting it off-hand because the plot bores me to tears; and I'm a bit soured by the Lakers reference (what're you supposed to do if you don't even like basketball much? Find something else to hate with Nathan?).

As for a proper critique, I've been staring at the letter for a good few minutes, and still can't put my finger on why it feels wrong. Perhaps it's the idea that a medic would get involved in conspiracies - she's not a cop or an agent, so what's she have to offer? "claiming to be on her side" in what? Perhaps it's because the letter gives a strong sense of the author, but reveals next to nothing about the protagonist.

But maybe it's just me. I don't like the kitchiness of this letter, either.

In the end, I much prefer the straightforward tone of Joanna Bourne's query for The Spymaster's Lady.

Comments

Claire Gregory said…
Sheesh. I'm kind of with you there. It's such a mishmash it makes my head hurt, and for me is just full of non-specific details that don't interest me for a second. Maybe it's just not my kind of book, but I'm with you- it doesn't seem to say anything at all about the protagonist or the plot.

Interesting, though, because as you observe it shows a lot of really interesting things about the author and her experience- and in the end all the letter needed to do was hook attention so that he would read her manuscript. Which he did, and obviously she backed herself with great writing.

In the end I suppose that's the key- your query doesn't necessarily have to reflect everything that happens in your story. It just has to give a flavour that entices the agent/ publisher so that they'll agree to read your wonderful words, and those are what will hook them completely.
Deniz Bevan said…
Too true! It's capturing that flavour, the oh-so-perfect tone, that seems to be a very slippery task...

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