First stab at a query letter – whatcha think?

This past Sunday, I posted about my struggles to boil my novel down to one sentence: the dreaded logline. Since then I’ve researched some more and have discovered that I’ve conflated the hook for a query letter with the logline. According to Janet Reid at Query Shark, the logline should not be the hook. So, since I’m wanting to work on perfecting my query, I’ve been working on the hook and the rest of the letter. My goal was to write in the tone of the novel (hers and his). Here’s what I have so far:

Isabelle Rochon has finally met the man of her dreams. There’s only one problem: he lives in 1834. Talk about a long-distance relationship!

A dorky Southern gal, Isabelle works at the British Museum. She just wanted to know what it was like to live ‘back then.’ But not really. Stranded back in time, she must navigate the pitfalls of a stiffly polite London on the cusp of the Victorian era, find out how to get back, keep her origins a secret, and, oh, resist her growing attraction to Lord Montagu, the Vicious Viscount so hot he curls her toes.

To Lord Montagu nothing makes more sense than to keep his distance from the strange Colonial. However, when his scheme for revenge reaches a stalemate, he needs someone to masquerade as his fiancee. Who better than Miss Rochon? A bargain is struck. What he did not bargain for was the irresistible attraction that flares between them. Now, nothing makes more sense than to make their engagement official. Except to Miss Rochon.

As Isabelle searches for the silver case that transported her back in time, she is drawn to a man whom she cannot have. And his enemies want the case for their own purposes. If Isabelle can’t find and keep the case out of their hands, the future could be their playground. And she’ll be stuck in 1834 where they haven’t heard of toilet paper or women’s lib. The fact that she’s falling in love with Lord Montagu isn’t helping either. When she triumphs and gains the case, she’s faced with an awful choice: return to the comforts of the modern age, or do the ultimate follow-the boyfriend move and stay in 1834.

TO OUR FUTURE, is a 95,000 word completed time travel romance. I envision this as a prequel to a series of steampunk romances, since Isabelle befriends Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace (who many consider to be the first computer programmer) and created an alternate timeline whereby Charles Babbage completed his Analytical Engine and ushered in the computer age 100 years earlier than it really did.

What do you think? My next goal after getting this query sharpened is to come up with a better title!

Some links I’ve found since Sunday in case you’re also struggling like me (bless you!):

My takeaway this week is that when you do your research on the agents you want, see what styles they prefer as well. Janet Reid definitely didn’t like certain things that Kristin Nelson did, etc.

Are you in the process of querying? Have you written a successful one? Do you have any advice for us?

10 Replies to “First stab at a query letter – whatcha think?”

  1. I’m actually pretty good with query letters so I feel like I can offer some constructive criticism. (Also, we’ll be discussing query letters at the Feb. MWG meeting!)

    A couple things jump out, the first being that I want to read this! The voice is perfect.

    BUT: Check your length. Your summary gets a little long. Boil it down further by getting rid of some of the description.

    Second, this sounds a lot like Lost in Austen and Austenland, so set it apart. What makes it different? (Hook.)

    Also, don’t give away the ending, so delete this: “When she triumphs and gains the case, she’s faced with an awful choice: return to the comforts of the modern age, or do the ultimate follow-the boyfriend move and stay in 1834.”

    I think many agents would be interested in the NEXT book in the series about Lovelace and Babbage because THAT’S unique. Be prepared with a synopsis/outline of the next book should they ask for it.

    This is a GREAT first stab at a query letter — you’ve clearly done your research and the MS sounds great. If you want to talk more, DM me on Twitter and I’ll send you my email address. 🙂

  2. I don’t have any advice to give you but just want to say that your opening rocks. And your final paragraph gives a really nice summary of the direction of your books. I guess you could streamline and shorten your middle paragraphs, which would strengthen your story blurb.

    Nice job, Angela. Now I want to read this book! 🙂

  3. Hi Angela,

    I don’t really have any advice for you as I’m a little behind you (I’m proofreading my novel at the moment, but haven’t really thought about the query/synopsis as yet!). I’ve gotta say though, it sounds intriguing – I like your laid back writing style too, and the title is very fitting!

    I’ve just joined here with the intention of writing and posting my current WIP “In That Other Dimension…” online, so if you fancy a read of my first installment, go for it!


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