I was thinking of starting a thread (or even a subreddit?) on query letters and elevator pitches. Something that's all about critiquing one another's queries, advice on the submission/acceptance/rejection process, and just plain how-to-write-a-query-letter because that seems to stump a whole lot of people (myself included).
So, here goes…
I've stolen a decent query letter template from queryshark and it uses the Hunger Games as an example:
a. The main character must decide whether to do THIS or THAT
b. If s/he decides to do (this), the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are:
c. If s/he decides NOT to do this: the consequences/outcome/peril s/he faces are:
a. Katniss Everdeen must decide whether to take her younger sister's place when she is called to be their district's entry in the Hunger Games.
b. If she goes in her sister's place, her family will suffer because Katniss' hunting skills are what keeps them from starving;
c. If she decides not to go, her sister will surely die in the Games.
I'm sort of using this template in my own most-recent query letter—not precisely following this outline, but close enough. I think the prime point here is to just get across the basics. Focus on just the main storyline of your novel. Get (only!) those character and plot points across and do it as quickly and as efficiently and as intriguingly as possible. Because the whole point of a query letter is to entice the agent to read pages…
So, my query goes:
The only thing standing between Essa Finch and a new life with a new name, and a second chance, is the wall. Fifteen meters of concrete and rebar. Stretching horizon to horizon. North to the mountains. South to the frigid dunes of the Kthyb.
Essa runs north. Following the wall. Leaving her family and her hometown of Cerec—a company town deteriorating into a surveillence state—behind. Knowing that the Sheriff of Cerec is out there, in the scrublands somehwhere, pursuing her. Not knowing where or how the Sheriff will strike.
If the Sheriff catches her, Essa will be dragged back to Cerec and strung up onstage, in front of everyone. Made an example of. Same as that no-neck who also tried escaping over the wall. The one who murmured—noose slipping around his neck—that if he died, then he died for the vallen.
The vallen? What was that supposed to be?
Kilom after kilom, the wall yields no answers. All Essa can do is keep going, keep hoping that there truly does exist a way across. At the next town of Gate One? Or perhaps somewhere along the river? Or maybe she can build her own way across?
However, little does Essa realize just how close the Sheriff truly is…
THE VALLEN is literary dystopian fiction, 98,000 words. My credentials include two short stories published in such-and-such…
Thank you for your time and consideration.
My name, contact info and blog…
That's it for now! 😀
Source: reddit post