Query Letter: Draft

I’m not done yet – I’m on the Epilogue (which is, however, bigger than most, due to the nature of the story). But I woke up this morning and said, “You know, I think I miiiiight be able to write a query letter today.” A normally intimidating thought.

Let’s not talk about synopses, shall we?

People who want to save the world are dangerous. They hide Jews in their mother-in-laws’ basements because “it’s the right thing to do.” They perform scientific experiments on themselves–and others–and their subjects drop like flies until someone discovers radiation is bad for the complexion. They lead platoons into the jungle because it’s what Napoleon should have done at Waterloo.

Alien Blue is an 85,000-word contemporary science fiction novel set in small-town New Mexico just over an hour away from Roswell. Bill Trout, the owner of the Caveman Brewery, lets himself get hornswaggled into helping his best friend, Mayor Jack Stout, hide an interstellar fugitive out in the desert. Bill knows it’s dangerous, but arguing with Jack is like putting your head in a jet engine: loud and disorientating, to say the least. Will Bill get rid of their pathetic alien before his pursuers find them and kill them all? Or before their flawed savior can save humanity from invasion? It all depends on Bill’s latest brew, a suspiciously blue beer he calls “Alien Blue.”

I’m a technical writer and editor for the Air Force; unfortunately, my clearance isn’t high enough to know any secrets about what really happened in the desert in 1947. Or so I tell people. I’ve written murder mystery podcasts (project never produced), magazine articles (went out of business before the first issue), catalogue descriptions, newsletters, short-short stories (at Toasted Cheese, Verbiage, and Clever Magazine, all online), poetry (in Darkwaves and Larkwings, Vol. 1; and iMPS iN THe iNKWeLL, from a gleeful press!), and murder mystery party games (the best of which are at Freeform Games, online). I also ghost-wrote a young adult novel, a sequel to a book that was never published and was my favorite project to date. You win some, you lose some. I’m a member of and volunteer for the Pikes Peak Writers, and I’m part of an offshoot, smaller critique group in which we discover how not to do all kinds of things.

Thank you for your time. I am sending this query to multiple agents, but only the wonderful, insightful ones who might keep Spider Robinson or Kurt Vonnegut on a back shelf. Of course, the manuscript is complete and ready to send at a moment’s notice.

Questions – do I go off too much about my credentials? And was the way I handled the multiple submissions okay? Was it funny?!?

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4 Comments

  1. ktbuffy

    Assuming you would personalize the beginning some, depending on which agent you’re sending this to, I think it’s really strong. I would cut a bit about your credentials — whatever an agent can’t check or verify (i.e. those places that went out of business) I would drop.

    The way you handled multiple submissions was funny, although I’m of the mind that all submissions are multiple unless you specifically mention that they’re not. It’s a little suck-uppy, the way you say it, but in a charming, not oily, way.

  2. Ian

    My thoughts:

    I kind of think you ought to strike the entire first paragraph. It tells me nothing about the story you’re querying, and wastes space that could be used better to sell the story.

    Second paragraph – It’s almost too brief. The two sentences phrased as questions don’t work for me. I’d rather read them as if-then statements. What is Bill’s goal and what is the obstacle he must overcome? Same for the alien – you describe it as humanity’s flawed savior, but that seemed to come out of the blue.

    In the third paragraph, I’d strike mention of anything you wrote that WASN’T published – agents don’t want to see what you haven’t done. Does that make sense? The first two sentences are gold; definitely keep them. Keep the actual publishing credits in there, as well as the membership in PPW (it’s a prestigious organization, after all!).

    Don’t mention multiple submissions; agents will assume you’re doing that anyway. Pointing it out might offend them. I like the reference to Spider Robinson and Kurt Vonnegut.

    Just my $.02

  3. ***Dave

    I also ghost-wrote a young adult novel, a sequel to a book that was never published and was my favorite project to date.

    After the previous lists, I started to read this as another list, and so the the last part (“and was my favorite …”) suddenly jarred. I might start start with “My favorite project to date was ghost-writing …” etc.

  4. Artillery MKV

    While I agree that first paragraph might not be right for this submission, I LOVE that paragraph. It’s incredibly well done and needs to be part of something.

    Seems great, though. Good luck!

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