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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Low Fantasy Query - Requesting Suggestions

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message 1: by John (new)

John Doe | 10 comments Due to this novel being written by a friend of mine and I together, I have redacted some stuff because I am unsure if he'd want me to share this publicly yet.

We have developed a query letter (shown below). It is quite dense and a little bit long. However, I am having trouble tightening it up without losing important features to the story. I figured this would be a good place to get some feedback.

Query portion:

It’s been twenty years since the Industrial Insurrection has ended in the nation of [Nation]. A semblance of peace hangs like a shroud over the nation and its people, but just beyond the veil, things are not as they seem.

[Bob], an ex-rebel, has spent these past twenty years researching and teaching himself the lost art of necromancy. His goal: resurrect the woman he loved and lost during the rebellion, engendered by his psychotic ex-best friend, [Steve]. His travels bring him to the Capital City of [Nation], moments before mutiny breaks out in the streets and forces him to flee, causing him to run into an unexpected wanderer.

As the pampered daughter of a politician, [Jane] has never known a life outside of luxury. That is, until meeting up-and-rising politician [Steve], who is secretly hells-bent on overthrowing the current regime by any means possible. After witnessing the massacre of her parents at his hands at a dinner party, [Jane] is thrown into a life on the run, trying to escape the murderous clutches of [Steve] and his patrons.

Upon a chance encounter between the pair, [Bob] and [Jane] are united by the desolation [Steve] has left in both their lives. Worse: as politicians drop like flies, it becomes evidently clear to them that [Steve] is weaving a web of murder, corruption, and deceit. [Bob] knows [Steve] won’t be satisfied until his web covers the nation in shadow… and [Bob]’s love would never be safe in a nation with [Steve] in charge. The shadow hangs ever more tighter and denser over [Jane]: being the sole survivor of the disastrous dinner party, she will always live in fear, constantly looking over her shoulder to stay out of his reach unless he is brought to justice. It is up to them to expose the shadow that haunts them both, to bring peace to their lives and prevent the nation from falling into the clutches of a ruthless sociopath.

[Title] is a low fantasy novel that weaves the tales of a middle-aged man who is unable to let go of his past and a young woman who is forced to leave her past behind to expose a larger political conspiracy. Equal parts A Game of Thrones, The Hunger Games, and True Grit, [Title] sits complete at 196,000 words with series potential.

message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1167 comments The death-knell: "196,000 words"

Recommended word counts for debut novels in the realm of fantasy tops out around 120K.

Blurbs are a true case where less is more. The recommend length is 100-150 words. I don't have to measure to know you're way over that. Just glancing at it I can tell you've used unnecessary words to get your point across (don't worry, just about everyone starts that way), but I'm not sure it's worth delving into as you're most likely going to have to cut 40% of your novel to get any realistic chance of getting an agent to make a MS request, something that will most likely change your story, hence blurb.

And simply breaking what you have out into two pieces isn't likely to help, as agents/publishers generally want your debut to have a clean ending, in case they don't pick up the rest of the series.

I know this isn't what you want to hear, but I think to consider investing the effort to query you're going to have to make some draconian decisions.

message 3: by John (new)

John Doe | 10 comments You are correct, which is why I'm personally pushing more towards wanting to self-publish. If it was my book alone (and not a combined effort with another author), I wouldn't have even bothered developing a query letter in the first place. Maybe if I show him your post, he will be more inclined to go the self-publishing route as well, especially considering we already have a sequel about 3/4 of the way done, a handful of short stories set in the same universe, and a final book in the trilogy started. I realize this seems like a lot before the first novel has even proven successful, but I'm personally not in it for the money. Not exactly the words an agent/publisher wants to hear, but: I am completely willing to take a financial hit on the works just to get the book out there.

Thanks for the recommendation, though. It seems like it might just be best to go the self-publishing route for me as originally anticipated.

message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1167 comments Querying agents is just the first step in getting a book deal, the agent then needs to find an interested publisher. There are smaller publishers that will accept direct submissions, but they can often take 6 months or longer to get back to you. If you want to manage a timetable and have control, self publishing is certainly the way to go. But getting people to learn about your stories and convincing them to buy is very much an uphill battle.

You are, I hope, planning on getting professional input before publishing? Meaning editors, proofers, etc. A publisher will pay for that, but if you self publish you need to cover those costs. And, since the costs are by the word, it will be more expensive with 196K. If you're serious about people reading your stories, then you need to commit to getting good editors to help you get it ready. You _cannot_ rely on your own eyes to find and fix all the errors.

Good luck!

message 5: by John (new)

John Doe | 10 comments Oh, personally, I absolutely want to manage a timetable and have control. The issue is having a partner on this... I cannot make these decisions all my own. We started this writing project long before even thinking of publishing. We wrote together merely for the enjoyment of it (and still do), so until recently (past year or so), there was never any discussion of publication whatsoever.

I'm not too worried about getting people to learn about my stories and convincing them to buy. Personally, I don't care if 10 people are interested or 10,000 people are interested. This is why I feel it is best for us to self-publish, as publishers care about number of sales.

I would say we'd be getting some professional editing services before publishing. However, currently, we are waiting to finish the trilogy. We are constantly finding little tidbits that feel might be better to include in the earlier books for stronger connective tissue between them all, as well as other edits. I am personally not concerned with the cost, as this is a hobby for me, not a business. I do not look at it as an investment (or rather, my investment is more about the joy of writing and letting my creativity loose than it is about a monetary investment). I've spent thousands of dollars on musical equipment for the pure joy of playing, writing, recording, and mixing and haven't made a dime from any of that. Maybe only a dozen or so people have even heard my music, and that's okay with me. I am a rather peculiar fellow, if I'm allowed to say so.

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