Query Letter Critique

Original Query Letter

 

This isn’t Quinn Dempsey’s first dead body—hell, it’s not even her first cannibalized one. She and her partner are Orions, hunters and contract sorcerers trained and employed by the top secret Orion Council, and they see this kind of thing all the time. But when Quinn discovers the Council has more secrets than she thought—secrets that take even a cannibalistic serial killer off her radar—she finds herself at the center of an interdimensional conspiracy involving the gods themselves. Betrayed by her superiors and abandoned by those she loves, Quinn must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save not only herself but the very fabric of reality.

 

ORION RISING is an urban fantasy complete at 99,000 words. Set in modern-day Providence, Rhode Island, it is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and crime, and features a fierce female hero reminiscent of Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax.

 

Under the name of (Redacted), I have published an urban fantasy short story in the horror anthology THE BIG BAD, edited by John G. Hartness and Emily Lavin Leverett, and have received an invitation to be included in its follow-up anthology, THE BIG BAD II.

 

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

 

This isn’t Quinn Dempsey’s first dead body—hell, it’s not even her first cannibalized one. Love this opening line! Punchy and voicey. She and her partner are Orions, hunters and contract sorcerers trained and employed by the top secret Orion Council, What are they trained and employed by the council to do? They see dead bodies all the time but what is their job exactly? Clean up the bodies? Investigate the murders? (And this is picky but I personally would have done a full stop in the first sentence rather than the em dash and used em dashes to offset this aside here instead of commas.) and they see this kind of thing all the time. But when Quinn discovers the Council has more secrets than she thought—secrets that take even a cannibalistic serial killer off her radar—she finds herself at the center of an interdimensional conspiracy involving the gods themselves. All good here, although I admit it did give me a bit of pause to have gods casually dropped into the story where they weren’t hinted at before. Betrayed by her superiors and abandoned by those she loves, Quinn must decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to save not only herself but the very fabric of reality. To be completely honest, when I read the query over the first time I thought it was pretty great. It’s only now that I’m going in for a closer look that I’m noticing the stakes are quite vague. We know Quinn is going up against the council, that the council have secrets, and that she has to stop them, but that’s sort of the premise of many a fantasy novel, right? I think this query has a huge opportunity to go from great to amazing with just a few more added details around the stakes to differentiate it from any other paranormal story. Why have her superiors and those she loves betrayed her? What do they think she’s done? What exactly does Quinn have to do to stop the council? Who is standing in her way? What does she risk if she fails? I’ve said it many times before in my query critiques, but vagueness if rarely as intriguing as we think it is.

 

ORION RISING is an urban fantasy complete at 99,000 words. Set in modern-day Providence, Rhode Island, it is a mixture of fantasy, horror, and crime, and features a fierce female hero reminiscent of Lilith Saintcrow’s Jill Kismet and Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax. All good here!

 

Under the name of (Redacted), I have published an urban fantasy short story in the horror anthology THE BIG BAD, edited by John G. Hartness and Emily Lavin Leverett, and have received an invitation to be included in its follow-up anthology, THE BIG BAD II. All good here too! So really, your query is already in pretty great shape. Thanks for sharing, and good luck with your querying endeavors!

Posted in query critique, query letter, writing advice

One Response to Query Letter Critique

  1. Brandy says:

    Great query crit Michelle! Very spot on.

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