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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Trinity: Victory, Friendship or Loyalty

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message 1: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments First and foremost, you must ensure you query looks good in plain text and use plain text only when sending it. It's hard to read your query as displayed by the browser because there are no blank lines separating the paragraphs.

It's not clear to me where your blurb starts. After splitting the text so there's white space between the paragraphs, "In this world filled with..." seems to start the blurb, but is not on it's own line.

Generally speaking, your debut novel has to be a stand-alone story, meaning it has a clean and satisfying ending. While agents and publishers like the idea of a series, they often don't want to have to commit to one until the sales of the first have been profitable. Typically I see "this story is standalone, but has series potential" where you might want to add that you have already written subsequent books.

You have lots of fluff. Queries ARE about representation, so no need to waste words restating the obvious. You aren't enclosing the query, it IS the query. The query IS the request for an MS request. Queries are fine to be simultaneous; generally MS requests are exclusive. I don't see any value in noting you've "enriched knowledge" of the divine.

Have you published five novellas totally 40K, or were they each 40K? I suggest you drop the word count, it does you no favors and the agent knows the length of novellas.

Now to your blurb... You don't introduce your MC, which I assume is Nike, nor do you introduce Baal or Nemean, so we have no idea who they are. For me, the notion that someone offers themselves as a guardian who needs to be trained is somewhat illogical. It's not clear to me what's happening plot wise as you leap from training to suddenly not sure she wants to honor her commitment. And what is threatening about "offering of thousands of shieldmaidens"? We start to learn _something_ about Baal as it seems he somehow has a claim to some sort of throne, yet Nike is considered an advisor now, instead of someone whose life was saved and then attached herself to these people.

If you'd like to PM me, I have a blog post that might help you create a compelling blurb.

Good luck!

message 2: by Lizet (new)

Lizet Engelbrecht | 15 comments Hi Keith,
Thank you so much for your input, I thought I nailed my query. Ha-ha, instead your advice indicates that I am not even close. Will try again and return once I have followed your suggestions and blog.
Thanks for your time, don't know if you would ever know how much it means to me. Take care.

message 3: by John (new)

John Doe | 10 comments Hello Lizet. I apologize; I meant to post this yesterday, but apparently my account was unconfirmed. It appears Keith has said most of what I was going to say. I am no industry insider but have been researching query letters for the better part of a year for helping me write my own. So, with that said, here are some useful suggestions from what I have learned:

-Don't mention the sequel or standalone book. Publishers aren't usually willing to pull the trigger on a series of books until the first book has proven itself. It's better to replace your statement with something like, "...Trinity: Victory, Friendship, or Loyalty is complete at 75,000 words with series potential."
-Unless the agent requests it via their website, forgo including any pages with your query letter. If they want your pages, they will ask.
-What's unconventional about their shapeshifting?
-"In this world filled with unconventional shapeshifting powers and mythological figures, the heroine and hero will not only face the consequences of their decisions but must also conquer their mistrust, self-doubt, and fears." Don't tell me this. Show me this through the way you frame the characters and plot in the following paragraphs.
-Avoid cliches and common catchphrases. For instance, "doing what is right."
-I'm not seeing what's at stake for Nike nor why Baal ascending to the throne is a bad thing. So what if shieldmaidens are being sacrificed? How does that personally affect Nike? Her goal and motivations need to be clear in the query. Something has to be at stake for her specifically, even if it's just the fact she can't live with herself by protecting Baal and Nemean as they sacrifice others. There also has to be clear indication of what the major conflict is. So, what bad thing happens if Baal obtains the throne? It isn't clear in your query.
-While I think it is important you know your material, most agents are looking to have something that they can use to leverage your image for sales. Because of this, I personally would recommend removing the sentence about your research into the divine and YA novels (or at the very least, considerably reducing it).
-You do not need to state that this is a formal request to send a complete manuscript. The fact you are querying in general means you are looking to send something complete (and you shouldn't be querying fiction unless it is already completed).

I suggest taking a shot at revising it based upon the comments and re-posting. I think it has the potential to be a good query but currently falls into some of the common pitfalls that many query letters do.

message 4: by Lizet (new)

Lizet Engelbrecht | 15 comments Hi John,
Thank you for your input. Realy the amount of time both you and Keith spend, trying to help fellow writers is just mind-blogging. I will take every point into consideration and will definitely revise and return.
I just want to say thank you. Your unselfish attention to my query and sharing of your knowledge is deeply appreciated.

message 5: by Lizet (last edited Aug 14, 2018 09:21AM) (new)

Lizet Engelbrecht | 15 comments My Second attempt. If it still doesn't work, I rather hear it from you all. Thank you.


I am seeking representation for my YA fantasy novel. Trinity: Victory, Friendship, or Loyalty is complete at 75 000 words with series potential. I have decided to approach you because ……

Princess Nike, the sixth child of King El, uses her power to shapeshift into a bird with a tiger-beard and scorpion tail, to secretly gathers forces to empower her exiled brother Baal. Lined with her battle-ax and sword, yet with only Nemean her supernatural lion to trust, training shieldmaidens to combat Yamm’s brutal men look helpless. And when Nike found that her father’s legacy lived on despite the despair, she can’t live with the idea that she would be responsible for a bloodbath.

Cursed to support Baal, because if he dies, so does she, Nike must balance his desire to be king and her ability to defeat the enemy while saving lives.

While Nike prepares for war, Baal and a few friends start their journey determined to escape before Blood-Moon ends and Baal forfeit his kingdom. Facing dangers like a prodigy hyena, volcanic fields, or Hydra the water monster was testing, and when Baal lost his friend, feelings of self-doubt overwhelmed him. Joining Nike and her warriors at the Golden-Gate, Baal tastes victory.

As the battle rages, Yamm shapeshifts into a seven-headed snake, and to defeat him, Baal, Nike, and Nemean found strength in unity, even though they choose differently between friendship, loyalty, and victory.

I have published five romance novellas in Afrikaans through NB-Publishers.

Thank you for considering Trinity.

message 6: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Sounds like you're spoiling the ending. You do so in a synopsis, but not a blurb.

Particularly since your name is so long, I suggest you either capitalize it or put it in quotes.

I don't understand "Lined with her battle-ax and sword." Did you mean 'equipped'?

The paragraph that starts with "While Nike prepares..." needs to be reworked. Unless you're changing the POV in the novel to Baal's, something that typically only happens in a romance novel (research 'hopping heads' if you don't know what I mean) the bits about Baal's self doubt have to be expressed from Nike's POV.

Here is my stab at it (134 words):

Princess Nike uses her shapeshifting powers to escape her prison. Free, she secretly gathers forces to empower her exiled brother Baal. Equipped with her battle-ax and sword, and trusting only Nemean, her supernatural lion, Nike must train shield maidens. Nike’s army has the seemingly hopeless task to combat the brutal men of Yamm, the usurper who banished Nike and Baal.

To support Baal, Nike must balance Baal’s desire to be king and her ability to defeat the enemy, while sparing as many lives as possible.

While Nike prepares, Baal and his friends start their journey to escape before Blood-Moon ends and Baal forfeit his kingdom. Baal is challenged physically and emotionally during his narrow window to escape.

Finally, he joins Nike and her warriors. There they each must choose between friendship, loyalty, and victory.

message 7: by Lizet (new)

Lizet Engelbrecht | 15 comments I make use of Multiple POV,

message 8: by Lizet (new)

Lizet Engelbrecht | 15 comments Thanks Keith, you make it seems so easy. I do like your version better.

message 9: by John (new)

John Doe | 10 comments Follow-up comments:

-Unless a character is detrimental to the query, they do not need to be named in the query. For instance, you do not need to mention King El (nor that she is the sixth child).
-Nike's shapeshifting is a cool feature but doesn't seem to have any relevance to the query. It should be removed.
-Who/what is Yamm?
-This is a query, not a blurb. You need to hook the agent/publisher, not detail the full plot. That means minor connecting tissue like the creatures met are unneeded at this time, unless you meet them early and they are instrumental in the conclusion of the story. This also means don't give the ending away... if an agent/publisher wants a synopsis, that's when you'd spoil the ending.

I have taken a stab at re-writing your query (but it may be off, as I don't know the contents of the story):

Banished by an invading army, Princess Nike is forced to flee her homeland and join her exiled brother, Baal. To recover the throne from the invaders, Baal will need an army of his own. Bound to Baal for life, Nike takes up arms and trains an elite squadron of shieldmaidens, ready for war.

However, Nike learns that her band of warriors aren't being trained for war, but prepared for sacrifice under the Blood-Moon by Baal. Caught between Baal's thirst for the throne, her own yearning for her homeland, and her love of her fellow soldiers, Nike must choose where her loyalties lie and what will be the cost of victory.

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