"Henry Rider: Clown Hunter" Query Letter

So, I’ve started sending out query letters for my YA urban fantasy novel, Henry Rider: Clown Hunter. I change the letter up a little according to the agent I’m sending it to, but this is the base model, I guess you could say. I wouldn’t mind some feedback if you guys are willing to give it. Think this’ll get anyone’s attention?

Dear Mr./Ms. [Agent Name]

Fifteen year old Henrietta “Henry” Rider is a klaon, a magical race that has fed on our laughter since the beginning of time, bringing us joy in exchange for sustenance. But our laughter must be given willingly. Taking it by force kills the host and turns the klaon into a ravenous monster. It’s Henry’s job, as the council’s Hunter, to protect the human race in a struggle they don’t even know exists. Being born into the lowest class in her society severely limits Henry’s powers, but that only makes her more determined to prove herself. Then she meets Ethan, a traumatized young man who has lost the ability to laugh. The power he holds inside him could either feed half their population, or create the most powerful monster they’ve ever seen. Seeing this as her chance to earn the council’s respect, she volunteers to protect him—even if it means never leaving his side. But other forces have their sights set on Ethan, and with his help Henry will uncover a conspiracy that goes all the way down to her people’s roots.

My name is Adam Bolander, and I’m ecstatic to tell you about my YA urban fantasy novel. Henry Rider: Clown Hunter (77,000 words) is a roller coaster ride of a book, full of quirky and relatable characters, magical races unlike any seen before, and nonstop action and adventure! Hilarious when it needs to be, frighteningly serious in others, boys and girls alike will find a lot to love in this story. As requested, the first [however many they ask for] pages of the book are below. Thank you for your time and consideration, [agent name]. I hope we get the chance to work together very soon!

Sincerely,

Adam Bolander

Somebody on another site suggested that I talk less about the book in the second paragraph and more about myself and why I’m qualified to write the book. I don’t understand what that means, though. My only “qualification” for writing a YA fantasy book is, you know, the fact that I wrote a YA fantasy book. I don’t have a career that puts me around my target audience, I’m not a celebrity that the YA crowd would know about, I’m just some dude who likes to write. What do you guys think?

Hi there,

This seems better suited in #industry-insider so I’ll go ahead and move it over there. :slight_smile:

Thanks for understanding,
Fray - Community Ambassador :frog:

Hi! I’m on vacation so I’ve just got minutes to steal here and there this week. I’ll take a look when I get a few minutes and give you my thoughts, okay?

We’re slow right now with our primary members off doing that publishing thing! (And that life thing.)

3 Likes

Hi there! Sorry for the delay. It has been CRAZY for me this week.

I really like your query. I would break up the first paragraph, beginning a new paragraph either with “Being born” or “Then she meets…”

She uncovers a conspiracy, but what does she DO about it? Do she and Ethan attack it head on? Hook up with others? Run away in fear? I want to dig into the stakes, especially for her personally. When the going gets tough, why can’t she say “Dude, I’ve got better things to do” and just take off? What’s her skin in the game?

Your last paragraph is interesting. It’s actually exactly what they say not to do – telling a bunch of stuff rather than showing it. BUT I love the voice, and so it might work for you. What I would recommend is leaving it, and testing the query with ten agents in the middle of your list. If you’re getting no requests, either the query isn’t working or your pages aren’t. If it’s the query, you could try changing that last paragraph and trying again with another ten agents.

2 Likes

Thanks for the feedback.

Because the conspiracy involves Ethan, and she swore to protect him.

The first book is mainly them discovering it. They don’t actively start fighting against it until book 2 (assuming it ever gets written)

As for the pages, I think they do a good job of providing a hook for the readers, especially young adult readers who enjoy a little bit of humor with their action.

Chapter One

The moon looked like a silver, floating toenail the night I appeared over 1157 Westwillow Drive— directly over it.

I fell with a scream to land on the house’s roof, only to tumble over the edge and onto their trash cans. A raccoon that had been rummaging inside went rolling across the driveway, and sprang back to its feet to hiss at me…until it saw the polished stone cube I had in my hand. Made up of dozens of smaller boxes, like a prehistoric Rubik’s Cube, the way it reflected the moonlight instantly mesmerized the dumb animal. Dazed from my fall, I didn’t realize what was happening until after it had already snatched it away.

“Wha- no, no, no! I yelled, grabbing for it. The raccoon dodged between my hands, scampered up a tree, and held up its prize to admire it.

And then it vanished in a flash of light.

I stopped, slowly lowering my hand, and groaned. “Now you’ve done it, Henry. McGus is going to kill you!”

Before I could contemplate my inevitable doom, though, a scream rang out from inside the house. Cursing, I scrambled to my feet and rounded the house to get to the front door. As I ran, I drew the ping pong paddle from my belt and gave it a flick. The handle elongated until it was as tall as I was, and the paddle poomph­ -ed outwards to form a giant wooden warhammer.

Her name is Splatsy.

Raising her over my head, I shattered the front door like a stale graham cracker and charged inside—where I almost tripped over the corpse of a middle aged man. He lay on his back, mouth open wide in a silent scream of terror. Dozens of bitemarks made a perfect circle around his lips, like a french kiss gone horribly wrong. To a human, it wouldn’t have looked out of the ordinary—besides it being, you know, a corpse—but to me it was as black and white as if someone had pulled it out of a Leave it to Beaver rerun.

“Crème brulee,” I cursed softly. As gently as I could, I closed the poor man’s eyes.

I think it’s kind of like filling out a job application when you don’t have any experience. It helps to put something down, like have you won any awards in your writing? Is there anyone notable that you know or that you’ve worked with? Do you have any degrees?

You’re not just selling your story to an agent, you’re selling yourself, and if you can put something on the query letter to set yourself apart from the competition then that will help.

1 Like