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Dear Literary Agent,
I am seeking representation for my novel, Crimson Courtship. It is a historical romance set in Regency London, and is complete at 92,000 words. Also enclosed is a short synopsis and sample chapter.
I have always loved historical romances, especially if there are multiple books connected by common characters. However, I have been frustrated that it always seems to be a group of brothers, or male cousins or friends. [This will be a fascinating topic of conversation at your next Romance Writers of America chapter meeting. In the meantime, let's skip to the part where you tell your prospective agent specifically what it is you've written, so she can skip to the part where she guesses whether it will put any money specifically in her wallet.] In Crimson Courtship and the three books that will follow, the story of each of the women from Hillgate Manor is told.
For a young lady in 1815, being presented to London society is the most exciting time of her life. However, with the sudden death of Patricia’s [Patricia Vandermere's] father, everything changes. She is left penniless and alone, forced to take up residence with an aunt she has never met. There she takes up the post of gardener, [changes her name to Abby Clumm,] and says goodbye to the dream of season of her own.
Fate is working in her favor, when by chance she meets and falls in love with Gordon Bray, Earl of Hawksworth. There’s just one problem… he doesn’t know that she is merely a gardener, and not the lady she has been pretending to be. When Gordon discovers the truth, tempers flare and cruel words fly. Will the two of them reconcile and live happily ever after? Or will an obsessed serial killer have the final say? [KaBoom!!] [Whoa! Where did that come from? You might as well have written, Will they live happily ever after? Or will they step through a wormhole and find themselves in a Turkish prison in the year 2342?] [Will they live happily ever after? Or will an albino crocodile bite off Bray's legs, forcing Patricia to decide between pushing his wheelchair everywhere for the rest of her life, or leaving him and starting a small landscaping business?] [Is there an obsessed serial killer? If so, you might consider mentioning it a bit earlier than the last sentence. Try the first sentence: My novel, Crimson Courtship, is the story of the worst month of Patricia Vandermere's life: first her father dies, then her rhododendrons die, then she meets and falls in love with Hannibal Lecter.]
Thank you for your time and consideration. I will be happy to provide additional material upon request. [How did you manage to write a query letter for a regency romance without using the word "ton"?]
Note to author: use only the red-colored phrases that apply correctly to your novel, and ignore the others. Evil Editor wasn't sure which section of the book the obsessed serial killer was in.
Dear Literary Agent,
I am seeking representation for my novel, Crimson Courtship, a historical romance set in Regency London. This is the story of Patricia Vandermere, of Hillgate Manor, and of the obsessed serial killer stalking her.
For a young lady in 1815, being presented to "the ton" is the most exciting time of her life. But not for Patricia Vandermere. With the sudden death of her father at the hands of a serial killer obsessed with wiping out his entire family, Patricia is left penniless and alone, forced to take up residence with an aunt she has never met, an aunt who proves to be an obsessed serial killer. There she accepts the post of gardener, and says goodbye to the dream of a season of her own.
Fate is working in her favor, when by chance she meets and falls in love with Gordon Bray, Earl of Hawksworth, and, unknown to Patricia, an obsessed serial killer. There’s just one problem… he doesn’t know that she is merely a gardener, and not the lady she has been pretending to be. When Gordon discovers the truth, tempers flare and cruel words fly. Will the two of them reconcile and live happily ever after? Or will an obsessed serial killer have the final say?
Crimson Courtship is complete at 92,000 words. It is the first in a series of novels, but unlike most romance series, which seem to focus on groups of men, be they brothers or male cousins, or obsessed serial killers, this series will tell the stories of the four women of Highgate Manor, and of the obsessed serial killer who stalks them all.
Thank you for your time and consideration. A short synopsis and sample chapter are enclosed; I will be happy to provide additional material upon request.
Since you are telling the stories of the women of Highgate Manor, you might mention that Highgate Manor is the Earl's home, or the aunt's, or Patricia's father's. Or mention who the other women of Highgate Manor are, in relation to Patricia.
Would Patricia pretend to be a lady if she had really said goodbye to the dream of a season of her own?
Evil Editor hopes there's a serial killer, as without one, there doesn't seem to be much to distinguish this from what Evil Editor imagines other regency romances would be like, if he actually read them.
Of course there is really a serial killer, however, he isn't any of the people mentioned, so I just don't know how to work it in. Is there somewhere in there I can mention the bodies of the young girls that are found without throwing everything else off?
very nice...I can see the flourish of drapes and a voice, "mwah ha ha, who knows what evil..." wait. That's the wrong blog.
You have given me some great ideas and direction. Thanks Evil Editor. (Although I don't really think you're evil.)
A common theme, EE, is that you are not as truly evil as you would have us believe. That being said, I must agree that "Warmfuzzy Editor" lacks all the zing of "Evil Editor", plus it loses out on the whole alliteration thing.
I guess, as one of your ragtag group of Evillettes? Evilles? In any case, I suppose you're going to have to resign yourself to being the "Not So Evil Editor" to us...
The semi-evil editor? Naw, we like it short and sweet.
Keep the evil coming, EE. We're loving it.
If they will refrain from broadcasting it incessantly, Evil Editor will tolerate his original followers finding him only mildly evil.
Evil Editor, this is the funniest thing I have read in so long. I have gone through most of these letters, though I am saving some to read tomorrow. And perhaps you will have more new ones!
I feel I have entered a different and strange universe. I don't know why the people are sending you these particular queries, yet they are, and you respond so funnily, and then it happens again.
I haven't laughed so hard over good writing advice since the Deluxe Transitive Vampire. I may have to pluck up the courage to send something in, if only for a good laugh. And Lord knows I can use a good laugh these days.
HEE. This was very funny, and also very useful commentary.
One side note: how on earth does the woman get a job as a gardener in Regency times? Housemaid, governess, lady's maid, dresser, hatmaker...sure. Gardener? I don't think so. Unless it's just in an 'unpaid drudge' capacity?
Hooray! I found you via Miss Snark, and I've added you to my blogroll. Thanks a bunch.
Now I'm wondering if I posted my sacrifice to the Evil Editor in the wrong place...
What struck me, reading this query, is that being a lady isn't a matter of MONEY, it's a matter of BIRTH. So even though Patricia is penniless, she's still either a lady or she isn't.
Carolyn, we're all part of a larger group that Tawny belongs to, besides she stuck Evil's link on her blog. She put up a post and we all happened to have queries. So...there you go. Romance writers all. (HEY! What's wrong with romance? It sells big time:)
I like that.
I don't think anybody who's read EE's comments here believes he's a fan of romance. Speaking for everyone (I have such an ego, LOL), we keep posting letters for books in that genre because we can look past his snarky comments about our heroines named Abby and Veronica and our sex-crazed-man-beasts (or whatever it was). EE's giving some fabulous critiques and his revised versions are tight and compelling. How often do writers get this kind of feedback?
Great blog. I stink at writing query letters. Fortunately my publishers, though they agree my queries stink, gave my actual MSs a chance...
Let's see, though. We can't call you semi-Evil, or partly-Evil (is that like Mostly Harmless?). How about Mid-Evil? Maybe you are channeling a scribe from around the time of the Black Death, living at Syon Priory...
Oh, never mind.
Hey, I like Mostly Harmless. That one works in a big way...
As for why send in query letters?
1) the feedback given is brilliant. (not to inflate your head, EE)
2) the feedback is amusing to read
3) Why not?
4) shredders are expensive.
Do you mind if I just call you EEEK?
Dear Gambino Family.
Whenever I see "lay of the land" I somehow expect it to be followed by her phone number...
Miss Snark sent me. This kind of feedback is AWESOME! Thanks for doing this! It's a great learning opportunity.
Dear Evil Editor,
I am another Snarkling who found your blog through Miss Snark's link. I got a real chuckle out of some of you comments on the query letters. I also tried to email you and had the mail bounce, so I hope you don't mind my putting this question in the comment trail:
Do you take non-fiction queries too? I have been working on a how-to book and am getting ready to start submitting it, so I could use some help with pitching non-fiction.
- Mad Scientist Matt
Yeah. I know it's really lame. (sigh.) Still, it's better than "He's read a lot of guidebooks."
The email problem is being worked on. For starters, Evil Editor has removed the email address from his profile.
Query letters of any type will be considered.
Thanks to Miss Snark's helping to increase E.E.'s readership by about 1200 in 10 hours, it may be awhile before we get to some of the queries. But the more the merrier.
Well, Evil. If you were hoping to find yourself a blog celebrity so you would have no time to go diving for pearls in the slush pile, I think you've succeeded :)
Congratulations on your blog's success. 1200 in ten hours?!
You build it...and the Evil Minions will come. Told ya!
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