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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query letter feedback, Fantasy novel

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message 1: by Luke (last edited Oct 25, 2016 03:35PM) (new)

Luke | 23 comments EDIT: SCROLL DOWN TO FIND THE REVISED QUERY

Hey everyone,

I've been tweaking my query letter around a bit and finally think I got to something I'm happy with. Of course, I'd really appreciate other opinions on whether or not it works as a query letter. Any opinions/ideas are appreciated!

Dear Agent,

Thank you for reviewing my fantasy novel, The Cloven King, for possible publication with XXXX Books. I have enclosed the completed manuscript for your consideration.

The Cloven King’s dark hand stretches across the country, threatening cities, and corrupting the minds of power-starved warlords. Verth, a seventeen-year-old boy found naked and alone in the woods as a child, lives an untroubled life in a quaint elven fishing village, ignorant that his life is directly linked to the King’s. When raiders storm his home and abduct his adoptive mother, Verth embarks on a journey to confront his distant past and defy a fabled king that legend says cannot die.

Readers of YA fantasy will especially enjoy my novel, as it combines coming of age elements with fantastical themes found in novels like The Name of the Wind and The Last Unicorn. I think readers will root for the antagonists in my novel as often as they root for the protagonists. The characters, while flawed, contain shards of decency that ultimately break through with some coaxing.

The Cloven King is a stand-alone novel with series potential. I have already begun tinkering on another novel (Three Long Suns) set in the same world, and I am confident there are several other stories to be told about the land of Rashka.

I earned a B.A. in English from Baylor University and won the Phoenix Literary Magazine short story competition. I am excited at the prospect of being published by XXXX Books, and I look forward to hearing back from you regarding my submission.


message 2: by J.A. (last edited Oct 19, 2016 07:28PM) (new)

J.A. Ebonlight I don't know much but what I've read from Query shark and personal rejections. While I'm waiting for feedback on my query letter I'll offer my two sense if you don't mind.

Luke wrote: "Thank you for reviewing my fantasy novel, The Cloven King, for possible publication with XXXX Books. I have enclosed the completed manuscript for your consideration. "

I would save the thank you for the bottom and not even mention the manuscript until they ask. A lot of agents from my experiences considered that bit presumptuous.

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Luke wrote: " as it combines coming of age elements with fantastical themes found in novels like The Name of the Wind and The Last Unicorn. I think readers will root for the antagonists in my novel as often as they root for the protagonists."

Comparing your book to the Name of the Wind on any level might get you a lot of eye rolls from agents and may be biting off more than you can chew. I suggest a less popular but strong novel to compare your novel too.

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Luke wrote: "with series potential. I have already begun tinkering on another novel (Three Long Suns) set in the same world, and I am confident there are several other stories to be told about the land of Rashka. "

Just like the above comment this is a bit presumptuous. Don't even mention other novels or any detail until they show interest in the one you're querying.

Again this is all my opinion from other feedback. I refrain from opinions on the story because I don't feel I'm qualify for those just yet.


Roughseasinthemed | 263 comments Jay's comments are valid.
Also, the second par about the story needs more work. We need to know about the challenges Verth faces and the threat posed by the Cloven King. At the moment it sounds like Verth is hopping on a train.
Third par. We don't need to know who you think the readers will root for. So far they won't be rooting for anyone because it doesn't sound exciting enough. Nor do we need a generalised character analysis.
Either The Cloven King is the first in a series or it isn't. Don't use words like tinkering. Ever.


Roughseasinthemed | 263 comments You are still retelling the story, ie it's more of a synopsis than a query letter. Do you want to repost on your own thread and I'll comment there?


message 5: by Luke (new)

Luke | 23 comments Thank you so much for the suggestions! I'm going back to the drawing board with the query and will post an update when I think it's ready for another look.


message 6: by J.A. (new)

J.A. Ebonlight Roughseasinthemed wrote: "You are still retelling the story, ie it's more of a synopsis than a query letter. Do you want to repost on your own thread and I'll comment there?"

Embarrassing. I was wondering where that bit went.


message 7: by Luke (new)

Luke | 23 comments Here's the reworked query. I completely threw out the old one and started fresh. Just a note, this query is tailored to a certain publisher that requests full manuscripts, so that's why I mention sending the full MS in the first line. Thank you so much for any feedback you all can provide.

Dear Agent,

Thank you for reviewing my fantasy novel, The Cloven King, for possible publication with XXXX Books. I have enclosed the completed manuscript for your consideration.

Verth was only a child when his adoptive parents found him, along with his murdered mother, in the woods outside their small fishing village and took him in. Seventeen years later, he still leaves flowers at his mother’s grave, wondering who murdered her and why his father never came searching for him.

Refusing to stay confined in a quaint fishing village, Verth embarks on a cross-country trip with dreams of visiting legendary ruins, an inn inhabited by fabled heroes, and perhaps even the ocean. When he encounters a crazed witch in the dead of night, Verth returns home with two unexpected things: an emerald dagger imbued with a strange magic and the promise that he is destined to destroy somebody called the Heart of the Spire.

To the north, the Cloven King stirs, awakened by an age old prophecy. In desperation, the King captures Verth’s adoptive mother, his last remaining relative, to act as bait for the child that escaped his clutches so many years ago. Burdened by a one-eyed warrior, an ageless witch, and a possessed boy, Verth cuts a path through the countryside, unsure of who he can trust. In venturing north, he learns that the stakes are much higher than his mother’s life. An army marches from the northeast toward the King’s gate, and Verth’s actions may be all that can hold back the floodgates of war.

Readers of YA fantasy will especially enjoy my novel, as it combines coming of age elements with fantastical themes found in classic fantasy novels like The Last Unicorn.

I earned a B.A. in English from Baylor University and won the Phoenix Literary Magazine short story competition. I am excited at the prospect of being published by XXXX Books, and I look forward to hearing back from you regarding my submission.


message 8: by Rachel (new)

Rachel Thyssen (rachelthijssen) | 121 comments Thank you for reviewing my fantasy novel, The Cloven King, for possible publication with XXXX Books. I have enclosed the completed manuscript for your consideration.

Verth was only a child when his adoptive parents found him, along with his murdered mother, in the woods outside their small fishing village (I would add a comma here) and took him in.
(A space, because we take a jump in time)
Seventeen years later, he still leaves flowers at his mother’s grave, wondering who murdered her and why his father never came searching for him. this is a nice way to show how the MC feels

Refusing to stay confined in a quaint fishing village, Verth embarks on a cross-country trip with dreams of visiting legendary ruins, an inn inhabited by fabled heroes, and perhaps even the ocean. what's so strange about seeing the ocean, I wonder? When he encounters a crazed witch in the dead of night, Verth returns home with two unexpected things: an emerald dagger imbued with a strange magic and the promise that he is destined to destroy somebody called the Heart of the Spire. you can shorten this by just saying he's destined to kill the Heart of the Spire.

To the north, the Cloven King stirs, awakened by an age old prophecy. In desperation, the King captures Verth’s adoptive mother, his last remaining relative, to act as bait for the child that escaped his clutches so many years ago. we did not know this before? Is this supposed to be like a plottwist? In that case, it's good. Burdened by a one-eyed warrior, an ageless witch, and a possessed boy, Verth cuts a path through the countryside, Where did all of those people come from, though? Maybe quickly mention he encountered them during his journey. unsure of who he can trust. In venturing north, he learns that the stakes are much higher than his mother’s life.
you're discussing a different topic here, so I would add a space.
An army marches from the northeast toward the King’s gate, and Verth’s actions may be all that can hold back the floodgates of war.

Readers of YA fantasy will especially enjoy my novel, as it combines coming of age elements with fantastical themes found in classic fantasy novels like The Last Unicorn.

I earned a B.A. in English from Baylor University and won the Phoenix Literary Magazine short story competition. I am excited at the prospect of being published by XXXX Books, and I look forward to hearing back from you regarding my submission.

This is a pretty good query, in my opinion. But it might be a bit long. Also, you should add the wordcount, since that's something most publishers and agents would like to know.
Good luck querying!

(And if you have the time, could you please look at one of my queries? 'When set Ablaze', a YA scifi and 'The Girl in Man's Armor, a YA fantasy.)



message 9: by Luke (last edited Oct 21, 2016 10:29AM) (new)

Luke | 23 comments Thanks for the suggestions, Rachel! I'll definitely take a look at your queries


message 10: by Luke (new)

Luke | 23 comments Hey everyone,

Here's the revised query. Any suggestions are appreciated!

Dear Agent,

Verth was only a child when his adoptive parents found him in the woods next to the body of his murdered mother. Seventeen years later, Verth still leaves flowers at his mother’s grave, and the Cloven King still searches for the boy that escaped his grasp all those years ago.

Travelling to the royal city on an errand, Verth encounters a crazed witch in the dead of night. Verth escapes from the witch with his life and the promise that he is fated to destroy the Heart of the Spire, a person whose soul is directly linked to the demon Kings.

When Verth begins toying with dark magic, the Cloven King senses him for the first time in years. Desperate, the King captures Verth’s adoptive mother, his last remaining relative, as bait. Burdened by a one-eyed warrior, an ageless witch, and a possessed boy he meets on his travels, Verth cuts a path toward the King’s stronghold, unsure of which companion he can trust.

In venturing north, Verth learns that an army marches toward the King’s gate, prepared to raze the city and slaughter every inhabitant, including his imprisoned mother. To hold back the floodgates of war and save his mother’s life, Verth must topple the King’s spire, said to be the source of all his power.

Readers of YA fantasy will especially enjoy my novel, as it combines coming of age elements with fantastical themes found in classic fantasy novels like The Last Unicorn. (I will find a more contemporary title similar to my novel)

I won the Phoenix Literary Magazine short story competition with my short story “Highlands.”


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