Jan 18, 2010

Query -- Masquerade (First Revision)

Click here to read the original query.

Business Letter Format

Dear Ms. Agent,

I am seeking representation at this time for The Steward and Miss Higgins, a single title Regency Romance complete at 99,000 words.

Bored with his staid life, William Smith, the Earl of Westerly agrees to do his cousin Robert a favor; remove to Wakefield to keep an eye on an elderly cousin and her traveling companion. He is more than surprised upon his arrival when Quiggins, the trusted butler reveals, “…things are not what they appear to be.”

William, a confirmed bachelor, has only one passion, horses, until he meets the mysterious Miss Penelope Higgins whose sweet, sunny smile and unfathomable intellect is in direct contrast to her dowdy clothes and recurring stutter. He discerns she is not the person she is pretending to be. The Duchess of Caymore is a meddlesome old bird, who keeps a strict eye on Penny, and William means to find out why but no one is talking. It is obvious the Ladies are in trouble, they are in hiding, and now it appears he will also have to masquerade…as the steward.

When Penny’s true identity (she is the Duke of Olmstead’s incomparable daughter) and her reason for hiding (someone has tried to kill her father and now the fiend has turned his sights on her) are finally revealed to William, he entrusts some unlikely friends to devise a plan to bring the villains to justice. Upon their return to London, a comedic chain of events finds Robert masquerading as Penny’s fiancé. Moreover, now that William knows who Penny really is, he is awed but undaunted. Despite Robert’s annoying role as Penny’s fake fiancé, her father’s threats to marry her off to a duke, and the Duchess of Caymore’s machinations to keep Robert and Penny together, William is determined to marry Penny, but first he has to find the blackguard who threatens her.

I would be delighted to send you the synopsis and first three chapters. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.

8 comments:

Holly said...

Hello, and good luck to you.

Your story sounds fun, but your letter has some problems with grammar and sentence construction.

I made a few suggestions below. And remember to capitalize your title. That's standard.

Good luck!



I am seeking representation (delete at this time) for THE STEWARD AND MISS HIGGINS, a (single title -- is this necessary?) Regency Romance complete at 99,000 words.

(Bored is not a good way to start, in my humble opinion) Bored with his staid life, William Smith, the Earl of Westerly (add a comma here) agrees to do his cousin Robert a favor; (; is incorrect, change to :) remove to Wakefield to keep an eye on an elderly cousin and her traveling companion (why?). He is more than surprised upon his arrival when Quiggins, the trusted butler reveals, “…things are not what they appear to be.”

(You could tweak this paragraph and start the query here) William, a confirmed bachelor, has only one passion, horses, until he meets the mysterious Miss Penelope Higgins (add a comma) whose sweet, sunny smile and unfathomable intellect is (change is to are) in direct contrast to her dowdy clothes and recurring stutter. He discerns she is not the person she is pretending to be. The Duchess of Caymore is a meddlesome old bird, (delete comma) who keeps a strict eye on Penny, and William means to find out why (add a comma) but no one is talking. It is obvious the Ladies (lowercase ladies) are in trouble, they are in hiding, and now it appears he will also have to masquerade…(add a space) as the steward.

When Penny’s true identity (she is the Duke of Olmstead’s incomparable daughter) and her reason for hiding (someone has tried to kill her father and now the fiend has turned his sights on her) are finally revealed to William, he entrusts some unlikely friends to devise a plan to bring the villains to justice (this sentence is awkward -- I would rewrite it). Upon their return to London, a comedic chain of events finds Robert masquerading as Penny’s fiancé. Moreover, now that William knows who Penny really is, he is awed but undaunted. Despite Robert’s annoying role as Penny’s fake fiancé, her father’s threats to marry her off to a duke, and the Duchess of Caymore’s machinations to keep Robert and Penny together, William is determined to marry Penny, but first he has to find the blackguard who threatens her.

I would be delighted to send you the synopsis and first three chapters (or whatever the agent requests). Thank you for your time and consideration (delete in this matter).

Falen said...

question - is the book supposed to be funny? i ask because of the "comedic chain of events" line. If the book is supposed to be funny, then the Query letter must be funny as well. Otherwise, i would remove that line because it's a bit confusing.

Also the Query seems too involved - there are a lot of characters in the Query and a lot of plot points. I would cut this down to 1-2 main characters, their motivations and goals and the conflict.

Anonymous said...

The book is not funny, per se, more or less amusing, as everyone is pretending to be someone they're not, hence the name MASQUERADE. Up until the very end, Penny doesn't find out William is an Earl. Throughout the whole, she thinks he's only a steward.

I've rewritten the query again and will post it soon.

thanks for all the feedback.
Robin

Lenworth said...

More random thoughts:

You should lose this bit ...The Duchess of Caymore is a meddlesome old bird, who keeps a strict eye on Penny, and William means to find out why but no one is talking...

As well as - Incomparable & comedic

As well as all other references to the Duchess

Who are unlikely friends? And why are they unlikely. Never heard of friends being referred to that way before.

Also as a man why would I (an earl)be awed by a dowdy dressing stuttering daughter of a duke?

Stacy McKitrick said...

Robin,
A word of advice (something that worked for me). Read your query out loud SLOWLY. Preferrably to an audience. If they look at you confused, you know you have problems!

Dominique said...

This is much better. The reader definitely gets a much clearer idea of what is happening in this story.

I, personally, am not a fan of including quotations from the book in the query letter. I think it would be much more concise to just say, "Upon his arrival, William discovers that not everything is as it appears," or something of the sort. It's shorter and it spares having to mention Quiggins, a character who never again appears in the query.

I might suggest checking out queryshark.com for an idea of the sort of things agents look for in a query.

Iapetus999 said...

I can't help it, but I must say this, and you did say this is a humorous book, so...
isn't William Smith the Prince of Bel-Air?

Anonymous said...

Andrew -- you are so right, I never, ever even thought of that. Well, it was slightly amusing before, but now that you've pointed it out to me, it's hilarious.

Thanks for the laugh.

Robin