In order to assist prospective minions, I, Dark Brain, will begin by telling you the most important part of any query letter– voice. The pedestrians of the literary world can all give you a list of things you must include in a query letter: genre, word-count, audience, brief synopsis, short publishing history, contact information, etc. No Darkling worth her salt would forget those basic ingredients. Indeed, it can feel like you are twisting your words into pretzels to get it all on one single page. Never fear, you’ll make it happen. Above all the basics, the thing you need to shine is voice.
I won’t insult you with a long definition here. It’s enough to say it needs to sound like an interesting story. It needs to have alluring narrative. If you need more than that, you should look it up.
Getting the voice right in a query letter is an act of art. I struggled with it in draft after draft. I found for me if I reworked the sentences very much, they became mechanical and lost their style. I finally had to resign myself to writing an organic piece each time until it had the necessary parts while still retaining the narrative voice. If you think about it, it’s really the most important thing you write. It’s the first few seconds of attention from an editor. And that few seconds needs to sound like a really great story.
I don’t know if it will help you, but I’ll post the query letter I sent to Curiosity Quills myself. I took out the part of the summary that gives away surprises. And the adept Darkling will notice they don’t want publishing history. (Always follow the guidelines carefully.) Here goes:
News headlines in the future are as repetitive as today’s. Aliens bent on conquering the world are closing in on a weakened America. Epidemic alien-flu leaves people afraid to leave their homes. America, led by the Undying Emperor, is drafting people of all ages despite the plummeting world population. Nobody really cares. They live in a fantasy facilitated by computer glasses that project images right over the parts of the world they don’t like.
With a sports scholarship and an amazing new girlfriend, Jason had it all. But it all falls apart when his father reveals that he cloned Jason in a lab, which could get them both burned at the stake. Worse, his “father” wants help destroying the immortal leader.
[ C E N S O R E D ]
Theocracide is 99,000 words. It is literary science-fiction. I have an idea for a graphic framework that would dramatically improve the book in e-format as well.
Please don’t hesitate to ask for the full manuscript. Thank you for your consideration.
So sign up already! Go to the blog of Sharon Bayliss, post your query on your blog, and get some advice!
(No blog? No problem. Just post it in the comments here.)