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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query Letter- What do you think?

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message 1: by Juan (new)

Juan Zapata | 66 comments Dear Agent (Name),

Decapitated heads, blood pooling on concrete, broken limbs—these are what makes up Malik’s father’s legacy. In Certamen, a planet similar to Earth, a new religion has plagued the grand cities of the East, bringing about death and destruction. Malik grows up in the midst of this hellish era, his father a crazed tyrant who rules by decree. But Malik, unlike his father, becomes disenchanted with the new religion and cuts ties with it. He dreams of escaping to the West, to a land of peace and prosperity.

Yet before that happens, Malik’s defiance brings about ruin when he proclaims in front of thousands that there is no God. Being witness to his father’s numerous crimes against hundreds of others, including the murder of his own grandfather, causes Malik to tip over the edge and lash out. This carries a death sentence, especially for apostates. But instead of an execution, Malik is consigned to a worse fate—to excruciating torture. Imprisoned and subject to atonement, he finds surprising allies and even greater threats. One inevitable course lies ahead: succumb to religious extremism in order to survive, or fight back against the injustice with fire and sword.

EVER SKYWARD is a 66,000-word Adult Dystopian novel with Sci-fi elements. This novel was inspired by the barbaric rise of ISIS in the Middle East. While this story takes place on another planet, it parallels our modern-day history. Seeing ISIS’s atrocities has evoked strong personal emotions with me, as it has with many worldwide. Countries clamor to end these terrorists, but their methods seem to be ineffective. I believe that only a native reformist, someone from the inside, can fix this problem—someone willing to stand up and say enough, just like my protagonist, Malik. 

I am a university student at Alabama A&M. Previous publications of mine include two nonfiction pieces and a short story published and/or reprinted in the following minor, literary magazines:

Easy Street Magazine, Scarlet Leaf Review, 13th Floor Magazine, GFT Press (upcoming publication July 7th), and The Missing Slate Magazine (upcoming reprint July 4th).

I have pasted sample pages if you are interested in checking out my writing voice. Thank you for your time.


Juan Zapata

message 2: by Haley (new)

Haley Sulich (haleysulich) | 7 comments When writing a query letter, try to trim it down to the basics (protagonist, what he/she want, what's standing in his/her way, what choice s/he must make (but don't reveal their decision), and the possible consequences of the two choices). In your query, I felt as if there were too many extra details that could be stripped from the letter to focus on the main points. These details made it hard to distinguish what the main conflict is because at first you mentioned it was the differences between father and son, and then there was a mention of speaking out against the father's religion, followed by a mention of a being tortured. Focus on the main conflict.

Also, try to eliminate as many "be" verbs as possible.

message 3: by Juan (new)

Juan Zapata | 66 comments Haley wrote: "When"

Thanks or the feedback. You're right, I didn't include the consequences of his possible failure.

As for the details, I'll see what I can do on cutting them down. Perhaps I'll leave the part out about the torture. I was just trying to make things sound juicy to develop interest.

message 4: by Haley (new)

Haley Sulich (haleysulich) | 7 comments When I wrote a query for my last projects (well, I wrote more like 3 of them to send out and test), the first two had too many extra details and didn't clearly identify the main conflict. Those queries didn't get too far. My third one was a stripped down version and was only 2 short paragraphs, and that one got an agent's attention because I finally ripped out the unnecessary details (unwillingly, of course) and stuck with the basics.

message 5: by Juan (last edited Jul 02, 2016 04:52PM) (new)

Juan Zapata | 66 comments Gibber wrote: "Have you tried posting in the agentqueryconnect(dot)com forum? Query critique is their main subject (I'm on there a lot)."

I haven't, but I paid on Fiverr for two people specializing in query letters to help me go through it. One used to be a literary associate. I think I got mine down packed now. I cut down on my summary like Haley suggested and removed the political aspect of the query letter.

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