Query Letter Graveyard

I thought it would be fun to gather all of my previous submission attempts in one place. This is long, but you will be vastly entertained. ^_^

So, here are all my wonderfully fantastic Past Queries. Commentary provided by my awesome alter ego: Me, Myself, and I. Most Bios & “Thank yous for reading this” have been truncated for brevity. Also, the bios sucked.

#1Query in the First

Dear Ms. Agent,

I read on your website that you are accepting query letters from a variety of genres, including Young Adullt (yep, sent it out with 2 ls) and Fantasy, which I concentrate my work on. I would love for you take the time to read not only this letter, but also, the first few chapters of my 39 thousand word novel. (Yes, I seriously sent it out looking like this. And yes I did know my word count was too low. LOL!)

Sudden Fury focuses on Fiona Lyons, an incredibly smart sixteen year-old with a terrible, life-threatening illness. Soon after starting her senior year, the once friendless Fiona befriends the strange new transfer students, Ares and Laney. (Not to be confused with the Ares on my favoritest characters list. I only hijacked the name.) The new duo share a frightening secret, but before Fiona can figure it out, her doctor tells her that her illness has spread to vital organs and that she is going to die. (Poor, Fiona!) As Fiona is trying to cope with the news, her friends visit her in the hospital and reveal their chilling secret. (Ooh, thrilling!)

As her time runs out, Fiona’s new friends approach her with an offer, a way out of her inevitable, painful death. Not yet ready to die, Fiona accepts their offer and becomes ONE of them. A vampire. (Yep, this is the original letter…missing words and mistakes abound!) Fiona lets her new powers go to her head, and her actions bring a greater evil to the quiet town of Ombre that puts her friends in danger. (Ah, yes, the part of the story I screwed up royally. It had so much potential.) Now Fiona must fight to save her own humanity, as well as her life and the lives of the people she loves the most.

Sincerely,
Me, Myself, and I

Yeah. I think this speaks for itself. Lol!

#2The One That Gave Me Hope

Dear Agent:
I read on your website that you are accepting query letters. Really?! I would love for you to take the time to read not only this letter but also the first few chapters of my novel. For some reason only one agent got my a letter with my word count on it. ??? Don’t know how that happened. It was 42,000 words. She said it was too short, which I figured. And I appreciated her giving me an acceptable range to shoot for in the next story.
Dark was the Night centers around the life of 18 year-old Raika Jordan, an up-and-coming actress living in the wealthy hills of Anaconda Cove, California. (Not a real place, but dontcha love the name? Lol!) Raika’s life is nearly perfect; her senior year is coming to an end, she has great friends, rich parents, and she just finished filming for her first starring role. But her world is suddenly turned inside out when she is kidnapped by a strange and wild young man and his hairy friend. (Oh my word…) Soon Raika and her friends find themselves separated miles from home in an unimaginable place of torture and despair ruled over by a sadistic, cold-hearted bloodsucking creature, named Tristan. (Oh, yeah!)
While Raika and her new friend, Sophia search for a way to escape, Raika’s kidnapper, the orphaned half-breed, Richard Myerrs, battles with his conscious, his feelings for Raika, and his own identity as he searches for a place where he belongs. (This is so moving.)
Sincerely,
Me, Myself, and I

You know, I actually quite like this. ^^ I can see why half the agents I submitted to took the time to tell me what I was doing wrong (in two cases) or tell me why specifically it wasn’t for them (also two cases). My bio was awful and way too long, but on the whole I think the story sounds interesting. ^^ One agent offered to reread my submission if I wanted to revise it and try again. I really thought I was getting close. This was novel number 9 and the last too short thing I ever wrote.

#3 The Biggest Failure Ever

24 March 2009 
I actually put the date on these batches of letter. Never did it again because email tells me when I sent the thing out and I put the wrong date on several letters because I kept forgetting to change it.    

Dear Agent,

From Out of the Ashes tells the story of a shy, college sophomore, Saira Richardson, who unknowingly reawakens the spirit of a young, crazed scientist. (This is actually the way it was orignally formatted…no spaces between paragraphs. After this I checked to make sure the formatting was right.)
When Saira went to the cemetery that night, she only wanted to forget the look on Kevin’s face when she said hi to him at the mall that morning. (Rofl!) That was the night she met Ethan. (Um, kind of…) He should have been everything she wanted. He was charming, attentive, smart, good-looking, and nice. (Yes! But this is boring.) He had an old-fashioned way to his personality that she found refreshing, if not also a little disconcerting. And perhaps he was too nice, on top of being more than just a tad enigmatic about his past. (Huh?)But at least he got her name right…without her even telling him what it was. (Hey! That’s interesting, right?)
Despite his circumstances, Saira finds herself blindly falling into a relationship with him. What she doesn’t tell her friends, however, is that over 100 years ago, Ethan McBruen died in a laboratory explosion. (YES!) The papers called it a tragic accident. But as Saira digs deeper into the life he’s hiding from her, she begins to realize that not only is Ethan not the caring, stable guy he appears to be, but the explosion was no accident at all. (Aww, man, all the interesting crap is buried in the middle of this mess.)
Saira’s situation is further complicated by her growing feelings for Kevin, who she suddenly finds herself forming a friendship with behind Ethan’s back. Growing? They couldn’t have gotten any bigger. As Ethan spins out of control, Saira is forced to tell the truth and find the help she needs to stop him before it is too late. (Fun times. Horrible mess.)
First two sentences of the too long bio included because it’s hilarious. When I was six years old, I wrote my very first book, The Thanksgiving Pig. (I still can’t believe I included this! head-wall) Since then, I’ve written many others in the hope that I could create something original that people other than my parents would enjoy reading. (Or this! OMG…WTH…Okay, I know I was going through a hard time when I sent this, but still…Yeah…Never query when you’re depressed people.)

Sincerely,
Me, Myself, and I

This cracks me up! Lol! But, yeah, this is not okay. Not only was the story riddled with issues…this thing was as well. All forms. Not at all surprising I’m sure. Lol! 

 
#NegativeThe Query That Never Was

Dear Agent:
(intro cut)

Eternal Darkness tells the story of 22 year old Joliene Avalon. Everything in her small and dark world changes the night she learns of the existence of vampires, witches, and other supernatural beings. (Um…she’s 22? I thought she was 21…hmm, memory problems, much? Lol! And I call this a hook? Wow…)

From the shadows, she is being watched. Much better opening line! Joliene Avalon tried to kill herself. (Actually a really important plot point, but didn’t seem to go over well with people.) But as she lies dying, someone unknown to her, breaks into her apartment and saves her life. Joliene is sought after from two opposing sides. Each one is trying to turn her against the other. And they value her life and the blood that runs through her veins more than she could ever imagine. (She’s so special! God, this crappy.) On one side there is Spencer, her confidant. But he’s working for a beautiful and violent woman that Joliene knows only from the mysterious nightmares that have plagued her throughout her entire life. (Long, much?) On the other side is the Golden Boy, Ares. (Ooh, Ares! The REAL Ares.) He’s arrogant, but he’s also charming and makes her forget about all the things in her life that she hates. She’s known Spencer for years and trusts him with her life, but if he cares so much about her, why is he working for someone who seeks to harm her? (Explain yourself!)

In the background, the story of the first vampire unfolds. (It makes sense to do this, I swear, but it was very bad for the story to jump around like this because I also have two POVs in the main plot. And in this one, too, actually…) Siraj Ravi, esteemed sorcerer and healer to the small ancient kingdom of Amoscavya, India, (I made that name up myself! After studying the names of actual ancient Indian cities.) is betrayed by the woman he loves. Her betrayal leads him to the darkest and lowest point in his life, to rot in an underground cell, void of fresh air and light, called the Pit. (Yes! The Pit!) Desperate to live and desperate for revenge, he cries out and pledges allegiance to an evil warlock, his uncle, known to the world as the Dark Satyr. (LOVE him!) His uncle curses him with a blood dependence, turning Siraj into the first ever living vampire. As a special treat, being that Siraj was the only member of his family to fight against serving his terrifying uncle, Siraj can only die by the hands of one woman: his true love. But since she is gone, Siraj will have to live with his pain forever. And every single person who read this letter or the story thought this plot line overshadowed the other one. I felt this way as well and started to think this early on. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to myself. Why, self, WHY?!

Thanks again for reading this! (An exclamation point? Really?) I hope I hear back from you soon. 

*sigh* There was just too much going on…And I left out my word count…all that crap was being squeezed into 60,000 words. *double sigh* I’m aware this is a bad letter, but this was the draft I was working on when I realized it had too much going on and set it aside. Originally titled: Where is My Atlantis? I got really stuck on that. 

#4:AThe One That Sent Me Off A Cliff
Dear Agent,

Five summers ago, Caroline almost drowned in the icy lake at witch camp. She was saved by a mysterious stone that glowed when she held it. Whatever is was, it’s gone and that’s all in the past. That is until Eve, a witch famous for her crazy powers and purple eyes, approaches Caroline with a job offer. (Yay, Eve! She also showed up the last story, fyi. Lol! This story was my series reboot.)

Caroline’s mission is to infiltrate the Luminous Springs Contemporary Worship Chapel: a college organization run by supernaturals who use their human followers to collect food and supplies for them through blood drives and other charity events. (I actually got this idea from my dad!)

The cult leader has something Eve wants, the stone of darkness, an ancient power that can control the minds of humans and supernaturals alike. Caroline is the only one who can get it for her. Why, Eve doesn’t say. And she’s not sharing what her plans are for it either. (Secrets!)

To gain access to the chapel’s tower, Caroline needs to prove she’s on their side. But not everyone believes her motives are sincere, and her inability to stay calm under pressure threatens to out her as a fraud. (No one liked this sentence, but it was the truth!) After she survives an attack by a member of the inner circle, she thinks the worst has passed.

But that’s before she discovers the depth of Eve’s secrets—and finds herself locked within the tower with little hope of escaping with her life. (Ooh, excitement!)

ETERNAL NIGHTFALL is a 75,000 word paranormal fantasy. It was 75,000? I must have rounded up, Lol! And in paranormal, fantasy is implied. I was told. I didn’t listen. For shame. Lol! Bio included because it was short and awful. I currently work retail in a health food store where I meet many interesting people nearly every day. (And I said this, WHY?!) Thanks so much for your time.

Sincerely,

Me, Myself, and I 

I’m going to be honest. I like this letter. I think it’s interesting. I have to assume I was getting rejected because the supernatural creatures are vampires. And if they couldn’t figure that out and actually read the sample pages I sent. The word vampire is on the first page. LOL! Also, I don’t meet many interesting people every day…

#4:BThe One That Sent Me Off A Cliff (continued…)
I formatted it this way because I was mad. REVENGE! or not. Lol! 

Dear AGENT,

Myth: The Orb of Syra doesn’t exist. 

Fact: The mythological stone exists…in pieces. 

Caroline, a nineteen year old witch, has been hired to steal a mind control stone from a dangerous, charismatic vampire named Brother Tom—the leader of a cult on a Southern California campus. (Caroline is 21. And I don’t like this paragraph.)

But Caroline is distracted by her neighbor, Gavin, a slayer sent by Caroline’s boss to watch over her and make sure everything goes according to plan. She’s not distracted at all.

Fact: Things start falling apart from the very beginning. (Oh, yeah!)

Not only is Caroline expected to extract more than one stone, but it’s becoming (painfully) obvious that Gavin is in love with their boss, Eve, and it’s interfering with his ability to do his job. It’s not interfering at all, but it does upset Caroline. 

And Eve has secrets. Secrets Caroline is willing to endanger her life and her mission to discover. Truth! Lol!

Things are further complicated when, thanks to another stone, Caroline is stuck in the deep past for days. Love this part of the story! OMG! With Gavin’s help ,she finally returns to the present and not even a day later, she’s attacked and nearly drowned by a member of the cult’s inner circle—someone who’s tried to drown her before. Because that girl is CRAZY.

Myth: The worst has passed.

Fact: The worst has yet to come. (YES!)

Sincerely,

Me, Myself, and I

Yeah, thought my crazy formatting would get someone’s attention. It didn’t. Unless it got their attention in a bad way. Doesn’t quite sound like the same story, does it? It’s like psychology class all over again. The harder I tried, the worse I did.

I actually like the first query a lot better. I like the crazy formatting on this one, but as far as content goes, I don’t really like it that much, though I did at the time I sent it out. Get some distance from your queries people, seriously. Lol! Rejections aside, I freaking love this story. If I can talk myself into writing the sequels, I might try to get it published again. Or do it myself. The rabid vampire fans will find it. Lol!

#5:AThe One That Made Me Wish I Would Quit

Dear Agent Pants,

Sometimes I put the title and word count at the beginning. I couldn’t make up my mind. One agent specifically said she trashes queries that aren’t personalized up front so I made sure I had something here for her.

The antique mirror shows up mysteriously on Reagan’s doorstep. The next morning it sucks Reagan inside and transports her to Ispartia—a distant land ruled over by an insane dictator called the immortal princess. (Go, Adria!)

Reagan is thrust into her role as protector of the realm by Felix, the country’s rightful heir to the throne. She doesn’t want the job and she can’t possibly be the right person for it either. I hate this sentence. But she doesn’t get a chance to debate the issue. From day one, she’s attacked by monsters and watched from the shadows by the princess’s personal assassin, Demarco. (Ah, Demarco…love him. ^_^)

Demarco says he’s sick of the princess and wants to help. (Not actually what he says, but ballpark.) Reagan is inclined to believe him since he saved her life once and has been nothing but nice to her since they met. Felix is convinced it’s a trap. (He didn’t really save her life, but he did help her out when he didn’t have to)

Trust him. Don’t trust him. What she wants more than anything isn’t to find a way to knock the princess off the throne. It’s to go back to Boston. (Cause that’s where she grew up in the original version of this story.) But not only will many years pass by in Ispartia while she’s gone, but the Boston she knows could already be gone forever. *sigh* God, this is boring.

If she leaves, she’ll let down the entire world. If she stays, the princess will kill her. I love this line.

Chains of Destiny is a 72,000 (closer to 73000, but I rounded down for some reason) word action-packed YA Adventure Fantasy about a young girl who has to accept who she really is and all of the responsibility that comes along with it. I actually took the underlined portion out after a few queries.

For people who said they wanted a bio, I included a two sentence bio here. Nothing about my job this time. Lol! (I know it’s not exciting, but it’s all I had to say.)

Sincerely,

Me, Myself, and My Gloom

I don’t like this. It feels forced. I went through about 7 query drafts in one week. 
Statistics: sent out a total of 77 queries. 45 form rejections. 1 actual rejection (though it barely counts because she was just telling me she didn’t rep YA. I got confused. I make at least one error in every batch of queries I send out). I got 23 rejections in the first week. Seriously. I wanted to die. Never ever, ever sending out this many queries again. Ever. Just brutal.

#5:BThe One That Made Me Wish I Would Quit…And Never EVER Try Again

Dear Mr. or Ms. Agent Pants, 

I’m seeking representation for my novel, CHAINS OF DESTINY. Given your interest in YA and fantasy, I thought this might be something you’d be interested in. Below is a quick look at the plot. The underlined portion was a reminder to personalize the query, something I had only done a few times before because I’m prone to mistakes and it is super embarrassing to forget and send a personalized query meant only for Agent #3 to Agent #5. Hence the underlining, to draw my attention to it. 

Seventeen year old Reagan is the chosen Protector of Ispartia – a world ruled by an insane dictator called the immortal princess. I finally had a hook! Too bad it’s dull as all get out.

The night her family is slaughtered, Reagan accidentally transports herself to a distant land. (Not an important plot point and it was really difficult trying to smooth over this without it being confusing.) When she returns, four hours later, twenty years have passed and everything has changed. (She estimated the time gone because she really doesn’t know. In the story she calls it a few hours, tops. But I know it’s four because I wrote it. Lol!)

Reagan immediately has to push her feelings of pain and guilt aside. Not only is the princess trying to kill her, Felix, the rightful king of Ispartia, is demanding she step up into her role as Protector. Yeah, I don’t like this. I originally had the order of this sentence switched, but I took someone’s advice and tried to get to the “princess is trying to kill her” part earlier in the paragraph in case the agent was skimming. I didn’t handle this well. Strangely enough, the princess isn’t after Reagan because she’s the Protector – she hasn’t figured that out yet – it’s because she sees Reagan as a threat. The princess wants Felix and as far as she’s concerned, Reagan is the only thing standing in her way. I love Adria. This is my favoritest part of the query. 🙂

Moreover, the princess’s obsession with Felix is driving a wedge between her and her right hand man, secret boyfriend, and personal assassin, Demarco. *grin* I originally called him her “boy toy” instead of boyfriend but decided against it. I thought it was silly, but now I wish I had left it in there because that’s what he was to her. A boyfriend he wanted to be, but a boyfriend he was not. To Reagan and Felix’s surprise, the assassin offers to help them take the princess down. He says he’s sick of her and that he’s done things her way for far too long. (Again, ballpark.)

Felix thinks it’s a trap, but time is running out. I like this, but again, I rearranged the paragraph in case agents were skimming and as a result, I don’t like the way the second sentence flows into the next. As Protector, Reagan out-ranks a would-be king and accepts the assassin’s help behind Felix’s back. The princess grows more desperate and reckless with each passing day. God, I love her. And she won’t give up until Felix is hers and Reagan is dead…or the entire country is burned to ash. Whichever comes first. YES!

CHAINS OF DESTINY is an action-driven YA Fantasy Thought about adding to this, but didn’t. complete at 73,000 words. (Still rounding down, but I actually got this version to come out a little longer than the first! It’s a stand-alone novel with a planned sequel. Didn’t want to put this in here, but a friend convinced me to leave it in. Per your submission guidelines, I’ve pasted a brief synopsis and the first five pages to the bottom of this email. Or whatevs.

Optional Bio(placement here) Lol! Note to myself. Got a decent bio this time! Short & sweet. Will be using it again in the future. 

Thank you so much for your time and consideration. (I’ve enclosed a SASE for your response.) This was just in case I lost my mind and decided to mail something.

Sincerely,

Me, Myself, and I

So yeah, pretty much the same story, just not a portal fantasy anymore. I had about 3 drafts of the query. I decided not to give myself a headache on this one, and I actually don’t hate it. It’s fun and gets the point across, I just wish I had left the second draft alone. It was better.

Statistics: I sent out 30 total queries. The rejections are an estimate because after I decided to file this story away, I stopped counting: 15 form rejects, 1 modified form. I queried some agents I’ve never queried before. It was super refreshing. And after a week I only had a few rejections so much better on my psyche. 

I was being a tad dramatic in the heading for this query. These rejections actually didn’t bother me that much. The first 5 did. They crushed me actually. And I did quit for about 3 days. But after rejection number 5, I had a talk with myself. I could just accept the fact that no one wanted this story and try to move on with a new idea. Or I could fall apart and die inside. I decided that I wanted to live (surprisingly), calmed down, and finished editing because I only had a few chapters left. I worked my butt off and I sent the story out. I tried. That’s all I can do. But my adventures into high fantasy are OVER. Not because the story failed, but because I actually really don’t like writing high fantasy. Not at all. 

See This Post for statistics on Queries 1 thru 4. 
I’ve honestly lost count of the number of total rejections I’ve gotten, but I know it’s hovering over 200 somewhere. Gosh…

Well, I’m gearing up for another adventure into query land. (Details to follow) Let’s Go! *rolls dice* Come on lucky number…. Six? o_O


Winter 2013 – Updated to add #6 – The One Where I Gave Up Hope

Dear AGENT CAKES or EDITOR CAKES (Because I actually submitted it to one publisher),

I am seeking representation for my novel, HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS. Below is a quick look at the plot. Whoo, hoo!

Cursed…until she found him. This wasn’t actually included in what I sent people. It’s just the rather crappy tagline that inspired most of the story.

Seventeen-year-old free runner, Korie lives by her own rules. A free runner! That’s interesting! No nonsense, no distractions, no dating. Not even her hot right hand man, Luca, who any day now will ruin everything by confessing his ever growing love for her. sigh – I really hate the first part of this sentence. It’s true it just sounds so contrived! *cries Her rules begin to crash down around her the night they dive into the abandoned and overgrown forest and discover a large, winged gargoyle atop a crumbling cathedral lost to time itself. The gargoyle!! Isn’t that just lovely. glowers

Nineteen-year-old Deryk will never forgive himself. Trapped in a hideous stone body and confined to the forest, he’s haunted nightly by memories too faint to be real. When a freakishly strong girl, the first human to look at him in centuries, the first human to ever look at him without cringing, comes along, his world expands, painfully and rapidly. Which tells me absolutely nothing. And he finds peace and solace in Korie’s big, green eyes and soft, curse-melting touch. Oh gosh…now this is laughable. WHY DID I WRITE THIS LINE? There are better ways to say this. Why am I posting this? Lol!

But his peace lasts only a moment. A vengeful woman from his deep past has found him in the present—free, human, and growing happier by the day. Growing happier? O_o She aligns herself with Korie’s unknown enemies and sets to redo what was undone and destroy the source of his freedom. He can never know peace again. Not after what he’s done. Dun, dun, dun.

HOW DEEP IS MY DARKNESS is Dark Contemporary Fantasy complete at 73,000 words. Just 73k! Aww man, I thought it was 75k at least…

{The rest has been truncated}

Thank you so much for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Me, Myself, and My Ego

Statistics: According to QueryTracker: I sent out 29 total queries to agents, plus 1 to Entangled. 18 Form Rejections (plus 1 from Entangled), 11 No Responses (including two agents that I have ALWAYS heard from.) And that’s all she wrote. I honestly gave up after the first rejection rolled in. I didn’t even realized I had kept track of them until I looked just now. 

I honestly can’t laugh much about this one. What I do know is that I don’t like the query letter. And I don’t like it because I was trying too hard. I’m happy with the shape the story is in, and I wanted to send it out, but looking at it now — No man’s land at it’s best. 

So if I did my math correctly (ha, ha) — I’m just under 225 total lifetime rejections. poses for camera ^^ You know what…I can be proud of that. I’m trying. Some people never try. ^^ It’s not over yet!

6 Responses to Query Letter Graveyard

  1. I aspire to have a query graveyard, relatively soon. I think the first rejection I'll get will actually make me happily depressed. I used to read a lot of queries when I was a literary agent intern…you could tell which authors didn't quite know what they were doing.

  2. I hope yours doesn't get as big as mine. Most of the queries I've read we're off QueryShark. It really is a subjective industry, but there are a few that are at least universally interesting. I didn't handle my first rejection well. Lol!

  3. That's a good idea to line them up like that. I don't think I even have my first query letters anymore. Lol! Maybe because they were horrid-horrid! And thanks for sharing yours. I'm definitely going to remember a few things for my next query round. 😉

Hi! ^_^