Sep 29, 2009

QUERY: ELEMENTAL GATEWAYS

Dear [Agent],

I'd like to introduce you to my 87,600 word paranormal romance, ELEMENTAL GATEWAYS.

Cousins Tara, Celia and Mari are accomplished witches, and guardians of the Gateways to the Gods. Their birthright is jeopardized when a three-hundred-year-old prophecy gives them three weeks to protect the Gates from a demon bent on revenge. If they fail, control of the Gates and all the power within them will bend to the desires of the demon prince, allowing him access to the realm of the Gods.

Zac, Ethan and Daniel are three men who share more than good times and beer. The prophecy calls to each of them in turn to aide and bind the guardian closest to his heart to complete the circle of protection with the strongest bond of all: love.

Together, the six find their way with very little to go on except the hints given in the prophecy. They wind their way through mind invasions, living visions and physical manifestations - each progressively worse than the last - to find the ultimate weapon exists in their hearts. They are challenged to make a choice, reach for what they did not expect, and make the ultimate sacrifice to save all they know.

I am a current member of Romance Writers of America, RWA-PRO, and the local chapter of Greater Detroit RWA. I am also currently working on another paranormal romance titled Coming Home.

Thank you for your consideration. May I send you the full manuscript?

Sincerely,
[insert my info here]

11 comments:

MattDel said...

My gut reaction to reading this is: "Wow, this sounds a lot like Charmed."

Mind you, that's not a bad comparison to draw if that's what you're going for. It should appeal to female fans of the series fairly easily -- and it helps the story sounds interesting.

A quick note: having never read a paranormal romance, and thus not being your intended audience, take my suggestions with the appropriate weight.

The first paragraph is a good summary, telling the reader who the protags are, who the villain is, and what will happen if they fail. That said, "bent on revenge" is a stock phrase that doesn't really tell me why the demon prince wants to get into the realm of the Gods.

The second paragraph can be condensed into "The cousins are aided by three men, also called by prophecy, to create a protective circle bound by Love." In this case I think you might be able to get away with capitalizing an emotion. Dunno though.

I also don't think you need to name Zac, Ethan and Daniel because all it does right now is give me too many names to remember. My own rule is: if the character's POV isn't used and they're not the villain, don't mention them.

You can probably cut the last sentence of paragraph three without losing anything. All it communicates now is vague ideas about how they solve the problem.

One final thing: I've read that you're not supposed to ask if you can send agents the full manuscript. They'll ask you for a partial if they want to read it. End with "Thank you for your consideration" and the salutation.

Again, I'm not your intended audience (being a non-romance reader) so take these suggestions with the appropriate weight.

-MD

gj said...

I agree with MattDel, and won't repeat his comments (which are spot-on, even if he's not a reader of this genre).

Watch for vague phrases, e.g., the guys share beer and more. If it matters that they share more, then say what it is. This is probably a G-rated blog, so I won't tell you what my initial thought was about what they share, given that the genre is romance, but I suspect you mean they share some kind of power. Don't be coy. Just say it. And check the rest of the query for similarly vague/coy phrases.

Callie said...

Hello, and good luck to you.

One suggestion about the term "guardians": I would look in the thesaurus for another word.

This is a super-super-super-popular term for alien and/or paranormal races, beings and creatures.

Rick Daley said...

gj- I would rate this PG-13 at least. I think most, if not all, the readership is 17 or over. As long as we're not getting totally graphic or obscene in our descriptions I think we can approach mature subjects.

gj said...

I'm doing this as a separate comment, because it isn't particularly addressed to this author, but to the world at large:

I've been seeing the "let me introduce you" line for the past year or so, which makes me wonder if some expert somewhere has suggested it as a nice way to start the query, something different from the standard, "I am seeking representation for ...." line.

Now, I'm not an agent, so I could be entirely wrong about this, but the "let me introduce you" line just sets my nerves on edge.

Two reasons. First -- you're going to do it, whether I want you to or not, so it's sort of repeating the query itself, which is the SHOWING version of TELLING that you're going to introduce the story. Simply saying you're seeking representation is, in theory, redundant, but it doesn't make the agent (the person receiving the letter) complicit in your action, it doesn't seek permission for you to seek representation.

That's not the big issue for me, though. I think it's that "I'm seeking representation ...." becomes invisible after you've seen it a few hundred/thousand times. All you need to pay attention to in that sentence is the title, genre and word count. It's a little like "said" as a dialogue tag: it does its job, and does it invisibly, so unless the author is doing something really wrong with it, you don't even notice it. For a person reading dozens, perhaps hundreds, of these in a week, every little bit of simplification helps.

OTOH, when you start with something different, the individual words suddenly become visible. The reader has to work at comprehending the whole sentence, not just get to what the reader cares about (title, genre, word count).

There's a time and a place for creativity and thought-provoking phrases. In fact, one school of thought suggests just jumping straight into the story and skipping the "I'm seeking ..." line, which you can reserve until the end. But if you're going to start with the title/genre/etc., that opening sentence is not a good place to be creative.

I think.

Again, I'm not an agent, just someone who's read a lot of queries in the past few years, and can imagine what it's like to get a hundred of them a week. Wow them with your story, not the mundane parts of the query.

Jane said...

I would not say "May I send you the full manuscript?" It just makes you look like an amateur.

A simple "Thank you for your consideration" is much better.

Anonymous said...

I agree with MattDel..."Charmed" was the first thing that came to my mind too and the rest of his comments are stop on target.

Also, about the word "guardian"...there was a recent blog posting, I'm trying to remember which one, on the overuse of the word and how almost every other query the person was getting included it or some version. If I remember who it was, I will repost. But, it is just something you might have to take in mind market wise. Us

Martha W said...

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions.

MattDel- getting opinions from those outside of your genre is the most important to determining if you are relying on stereotypes. You know, the "if you read [insert genre here], you would understand" type things. So thank you.

I am going to look for another term for guardian - but my scope is narrow there, because that is what they are. The protectors/guardians of the Gateways to Gods. Like I said, I'm going to look but are there any suggestions that spring to mind?

And thanks again. I always appreciate good feedback.

Carl said...

Martha, you could make up your own term for guardian, or you could go to thesaurus.com. They have lots of synonyms. I like keeper, paladin, protector, preserver, and sentinel.

Good luck!

Martha W said...

Originally I thought keeper but all I kept thinking of was Ghost Busters. I swear. That theme song just played over and over and over... you get the picture. Then not only would I sound like Charmed but also the Ghost Busters? Ah! :) Yes, I am laughing at myself.

However, preserver? Hadn't thought of that one but it's good. I also thought maybe praetorian.

Callie said...

Somebody -- I think agent Jennifer Jackson from the Maass Literary Agency -- wrote on her blog that she keeps seeing dozens of novels that use the term guardian.

Any of those other terms would work just fine. I would play with them until you find the one that feels right.