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Need querying help

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Phoenix (Books with Wings) Hey guys,
Does anyone here know how to write a query? I'm currently trying to write one and struggling. I've looked at numerous blog posts but I'm still slightly confused. It would be great if you could help!
Thanks!
-Phoenix


message 2: by L.C. (new)

L.C. Perry | 14 comments Do you have a query letter to post? I can help give you feedback


Phoenix (Books with Wings) Oh yeah...I should probably write it first...

I'll give it a try today or tomorrow and we'll see where it goes.


message 4: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Cowley (colleencowley) | 6 comments You may have already found this helpful resource: https://queryshark.blogspot.com


Phoenix (Books with Wings) Okay. So...I wrote the query. Sort of. It's not very good, however. AT ALL so when you read it you don't have to tell me it's bad, I already know. I don't have a bio and I didn't know what to describe my book like in the end. If you have any suggestions at all, they would be greatly appreciated.
As always, this is my work so don't steal it.
Here's the query:
(view spoiler)


message 6: by Colleen (last edited Sep 12, 2020 07:26AM) (new)

Colleen Cowley (colleencowley) | 6 comments Hi, Phoenix, I think that sounds interesting. A few thoughts:

Simplifying the query will probably help you. For instance, here's how you can eliminate words and secondary characters to focus on the key details:

As the daughter of an infamous arsonist, it’s vital that Marina Tammien keep a low profile--especially because she's on the wrong side of the law herself as an unregistered fire mage. Unfortunately, Crown Prince Thabani Garlen is on the hunt for Artok’s most well-known criminal, and he finds Marina instead. Disaster ensues--for Thabani.

Marina rushes the injured prince to a healer. There, they learn that the winds have been speaking about them. A dark magic is rising in Artok. The kingdom is in danger if the can't stop it.

With no choice but to work together, Marina and Thabani set off to [here's where a bit more detail might be good -- lots of high fantasy stories involve quests, so what sets this one apart?].


Other people might have very different ideas! Just my two cents.

One other thought: Fantasy runs longer than some other genres, but for YA fantasy, 120,000 words is long. You might want to see if you can get it below 100,000. (Best thing I did for my first novel was to cut it from 120,000 words to 80,000.)

Good luck!


Phoenix (Books with Wings) yeah, I know that it's pretty long. I'm trying to enter it in a contest in two weeks so I'm a little rushed but I'm trying to do some editing. Might not be the best idea to enter it in the contest but it's worth a try. I probably won't get in.

Also, Lilia is actually a main character, that's why I felt I needed to mention her. Any suggestions about that?

And lastly, thank you so much for this. It's extremely useful!


message 8: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Cowley (colleencowley) | 6 comments Happy it's helpful!

If it's really important to include Lilia, you could work her into the third (quest) paragraph. But it might not be necessary. I'd definitely recommend reading through a bunch of the Query Shark entries to get a feeling for what works, what doesn't and what you can get away with leaving out.


Phoenix (Books with Wings) Okay, I have revised my query a lot. It now includes a bio and a comp. But the comp, I'm not sure if it's great. Tell me what you think if you have time/want to!

As the daughter of an infamous arsonist, it’s vital that Marina keep a low profile –
Especially since, as an unregistered fire mage, she’s on the wrong side of the law herself. Unfortunately, Crown Prince Thabani is on the hunt for Artok’s most well-known criminal –and runs into Marina instead. After a disastrous encounter with the fire mage, Marina and her new mage friend Lilia are forced to rush the prince to a healer in a nearby town. There, all three learn that the winds have been speaking about them. A dark magic is rising in Artok and the kingdom is in danger if they can’t stop it.

With no choice but to work together, the two mages and the prince embark on a quest to locate the magic and stop it at all costs. They must travel through their country’s most dangerous forest and over the deadliest mountains in Artok. Along the way they face lost souls, Artok’s general and their own pasts.

I am a teenager [I put my actual age in the query but didn't want to say it on goodreads] and I have gotten two pieces of writing published in my school’s literary magazine in the past.

With the adventure of The Dragon Prince and the world of Graceling, POWER OF DEATH (series) is a 120,000 word young adult fantasy.

Thank you for your time and consideration,


message 10: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Cowley (colleencowley) | 6 comments Wow, this is far more impressive than anything I wrote as a teenager, so major congratulations on that. A few thoughts:

After a disastrous encounter with the fire mage, Marina and her new mage friend Lilia are forced to rush the prince to a healer in a nearby town.

Marina is the fire mage, right? I think this construction will confuse people. How about: "After a disastrous encounter, Marina" etc.

and stop it at all costs.

You have "stop it" in the previous sentence, so you might want something a little different here.

and their own pasts.

You could be a little more specific here, if it's interesting. But that really depends on what they're facing. Sometimes less is more.

and the world of Graceling

Maybe "the world building of Graceling"? Or "a world reminiscent of Graceling"?

As the daughter of an infamous arsonist, it’s vital that Marina keep a low profile –Especially since,

You've probably caught this already. Just flagging that you'll want a period instead of a dash (or a lowercase "e").

Agents/contests will vary on this, but you might want to leave out the part about being published in your school's literary magazine. "I'm 17 and have been a storyteller since I could walk" or something like that might work better.

Good luck!


Phoenix (Books with Wings) Thank you!

About the first thing - okay. I just put that to have a little variation in the words I use but what you say makes sense as well.

Ah, okay. I changed it to, "and come to terms with their troubled pasts."

Thank you, you're right, it is the world building of Graceling.

Yep, I caught that but thanks for pointing it out!

Ah, yes, you make a good point. I was actually wondering that as well, but my 'editor' (aka, my grandmother who was a textbook editor who is sort of helping me with this) said I should add it...however I am thinking of taking it out since it's not a big accomplishment in the grand scheme of things.


message 12: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Cowley (colleencowley) | 6 comments That all makes sense to me! (I'd just recommend "Along the way they face lost souls, Artok’s general and their troubled pasts" so you don't end up with "Along the way they face lost souls and Artok’s general and come to terms with their troubled pasts.")

Best of luck with the contest and the book.


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