I finished the (hopefully) final revision of my book the other day. The grammar and details should be as perfect as I am personally capable of getting them.
But this lead to another problem: I think my old query letter is really boring. It’s probably technically accurate, follows all the query letter rules, etc., but it doesn’t leap out and say, “Hey, this book is fabulous! Read it!”
So instead of reading all the “rules” of writing query letters (which are frequently contradictory; you can drive yourself mad if you’re not careful), I took the time to read some successful query letters over at Guide to Literary Agents.
I decided, after reading agents’ comments on other query letters, that what I really do well in my book (besides dialog) are characters. I have a rather hefty number of characters in my book (I am a big fan of Harry Turtledove, who manages large casts of characters fabulously), and they all have a unique personality. I mean, look at my character biographies (see right sidebar): I’ve obviously put a lot of time and effort in thinking about their backgrounds and histories–even though most of that information doesn’t actually come out in the book. I know my characters really well. So, I tried to rewrite my query letter in such a way you can see the characters and get interested in them right away.
So, here’s my new query letter (SPOILER ALERT). God-willing-and-the-creek-don’t-rise, I’m going to figure out how to put a poll on here, so you can vote on whether the letter really sells the book, is lacking, or makes the book sound terrible (after all, it’s the book I have to sell to an agent). Comments, corrections, and critiques are welcome in the comment section.
Kalyn Reid has a perfect life. She is a top student in her junior class, she is on the cheerleading team, her parents are happily married, and on her sixteenth birthday she becomes the human-of-choice for a very good-looking vampire.
Anselm (the good-looking vampire in question) has a pretty nice life too. He quietly busies himself making Shaker-style furniture, keeping his house immaculate, and watching Jeopardy! every weeknight promptly at 7:30.
When Anselm becomes insufferably introverted, his adopted brother, Micah, throws a firecracker into the room (metaphorically… most of the time). The two men form the vampire equivalent of the Odd Couple: Micah is irreverently Jewish, an attention whore, and his house is a certifiable disaster area. And yet, when they want to accomplish something together, they are a well-oiled machine: Anselm takes control, and Micah supports him with unwavering loyalty.
The status quo, however, is about to be shattered. Rumors of a new species of vampire are confirmed when Anselm saves Ciaran—a young, cheerful Irishman—from being murdered by another of his kind. Ciaran’s defection, however, sets up a cascade of events which threaten all-out war between the two species.
In the blink of an eye, both of Kalyn’s parents die, Micah’s father is murdered, and Ciaran is kidnapped from Anselm’s house. Suddenly Anselm finds himself struggling to hold together a despondent Kalyn, restrain a wrathful Micah, and rescue Ciaran—again. It doesn’t help matters when, along the way, he falls in love with Kalyn, and her highly-traditional aunt makes a case (literally) out of their inter-species relationship. Both of them wind up in vampire court, trying to defend themselves and their right to be together.
“Accepted” is an urban fantasy novel of approximately 110,000 words. This is the first book of a trilogy which follows Kalyn’s crash-entrance into adulthood, and her deepening relationship with Anselm and Micah, even while their culture and people are nearly exterminated.
NOTE: This poll will only run until February 18, 2011. If you’re a latecomer, I probably won’t listen to you, but feel free to leave a comment.