Beta Reader Group discussion

Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query Feedback; 90K Gunpowder Fantasy

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Joshua (new)

Joshua Johnson | 4 comments Dear [Insert Agent Name],

Sammarah Steyr has just days to prepare a defense against an overwhelming invasion, while one of her lieutenants tries to sabotage her for personal gain.

Despite Sammarah Steyr's lack of status or wealth, she has risen to be Andivar's most celebrated field commander. Now, with her homeland on the brink of war and revolution, she must lead an outnumbered defense against an invasion that threatens the very existence of her nation.

If the Chesian Empire is victorious, Sammarah's life and the lives of those she cares most about will be forfeit. Battle-hardened Imperial armies will march against inexperienced and unprepared militias. Millions will fall under the boot of a bloodthirsty emperor. If she can hold until the winter rains flood the battlefield, the armies of Andivar will have time to muster and march in force.

Samm must learn that not all enemies face her across a battlefield. There are spies in her camp looking to sabotage her, and the actions of her most trusted officers undermine her efforts. Sammarah must decide how years of loyal service weigh against betrayal.

I am seeking representation for LOYALTY BETRAYED, is an OTHELLO-inspired 90,000-word Gunpowder Fantasy featuring a racially and orientation diverse cast with rifles and railroads, light magic and twists on "traditional" fantasy races. It is similar in setting and tone to Brian McClellan's POWDER MAGE TRILOGY and Django Wexler's SHADOW CAMPAIGN series. [Insert why I queried this agent].

I hold a bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University majoring in English with a focus on Creative Writing and a minor in history. I own two domains ( and which are germane to this growing subgenre. I have previously self-published two novels (THE CERBERUS REBELLION and THE HYDRA OFFENSIVE) and several short stories in a different series from Loyalty Betrayed.

Thank you for your consideration

message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I'm not grabbed by your blurb, it feels very repetitive/redundant to me. It's also a bit on the long side at 183 words, when the supposed sweet spot is 100-150.

You don't need "I am seeking representation for," that's exactly what a query is. Not sure about the quotes around traditional. Presumably, 'gunpower fantasy' is a well established genre, and any agent you target would be familiar with the tropes, so there doesn't seem like there's value in repeating them.

I don't think there's much value in the bio, unless you're approaching an agent who has attended the same uni. Unless a self published novel has sold 10K+ units, it's not something that helps. More important than your domain names is how many hits you get. And if it's less than thousands of unique visitors a day, there's probably no value in adding that. So I've heard, if an agent is interested in making a MS request, the next thing they'll do is Google your author name. If you already have a well established social media presence, that's a bonus.

Good luck!

message 3: by Erika (last edited Sep 11, 2019 05:32AM) (new)

Erika Winterlia (marleene) | 25 comments Your query feels a little word-heavy and it's hard to keep focus and actually read and understand what you want to say here. I would suggest simplifying here. Even though the query has a lot of words, there isn't really much information there. You're saying the same thing in several different ways. Focus on the character's goal, what stops her from reaching it and what will happen if she doesn't.

Also, I'm not sure about the bio. It feels a little problematic when the bio is almost as long as the information about the novel. I do think you should mention the bachelor's degree, and your previous publications, but I can't see the need to add the information about the domains.

Here's an quick version of the query that I wrote to perhaps spark some ideas:

Two days is all Sammarah Steyr's has to stop the Chesian Empire’s bloodthirsty emperor from destroying her nation and the people that live there. Two days to lead an outnumbered army of Andivar’s inexperienced and unprepared militia into war against the battle-hardened imperial army.

It's an impossible task at best, but if they can hold out until the winter rains flood the battlefield, the armies of Andivar might stand a chance. But when Sammarah realizes that not all enemies reside on the opposite side of the battlefield, it doesn’t matter that she is Andivar’s most celebrated field commander. Someone within the Andivar army is working with the imperials, undermining not only her orders but her position too. Now, Sammarah must find the traitor and reestablish her rank before the emperor learns of their plans. If she fails, millions will die.

message 4: by Matt (new)

Matt (mattcsully) | 2 comments Wow, Erika. Great job transforming that query. It reads really well now.

back to top