Need your opinion on my query letter

Hello, everyone!

After cramming all weekend long on my query letter, I have managed something satisfying.

Would you be as kind as to provide your opinion, please?


Dear ________________,

I am writing to seek representation for my novel, MY VIRTUAL DARCY, a 54,000-word new adult romance with speculative fiction themes.

Leah, a Pride and Prejudice fan, dives into her favorite story thanks to a virtual-reality game. She explores Regency England, and like Elizabeth Bennet, squabbles with the infamous Darcy. When Leah gives in to her attraction and kisses him, the character reveals there is a real person piloting him.
As she befriends Theo, the tech-savvy cutie behind Darcy, newscasts report an increasing amount of memory thefts, and players lose control of their body.

MY VIRTUAL DARCY is a standalone novel (with sequel potential), starting with a seemingly innocuous retelling of Austen’s masterpiece, and revealing a darker side as the story unfolds, much similar to Black Mirror and its reflections on new technologies.

I am a debut author, aka IT engineer on parental leave. I live in Bordeaux, France, and chose to write in English because my words flow is better in this language than in my mother tongue–which will deeply sadden my French teachers.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Ms. Monica Nguon

OooO I don’t know anything about this but that sounds goooood ^.^

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Hehe, thanks for dropping by ╰(^3^)╯

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I kept meaning to come back and give you some feedback, and then I kept forgetting to do it. I apologize!

Good start. Here are a few things that jumped out at me:

  • I, personally, would move the housekeeping – title, word count, and genre – to the paragraph after the pitch, in case there’s something (like word count) that makes them pause. Hook them first! Starting right into the pitch isn’t a problem.

  • Word count. This is short, particularly with any sort of fantasy or sci-fi elements in it. When you add those elements, the word count is expected to push to the higher end of the range (or even over it a bit) because of the additional world building required.

  • Genre. New adult doesn’t sell well in the eyes of traditional publishers. I’m also not seeing that this meets the definition. New adult is NOT just character age. It’s about “firsts” – first year of college, first serious romance, first job, etc. Also, speculative fiction isn’t a theme. I’d probably call it Romance (with a capital R) with elements of speculative fiction IF the Romance is the most important arc of the story.

  • The first paragraph of your pitch is great. The second… not so much. Tell us about Theo; he is; this is a Romance, so we need to know about the other half. Then we need to know more about the memory thefts, etc. What is Leah’s goal relative to that story? What terrible thing happens if she fails? What choice is forced to make?

I STRONGLY recommend that you go to the Query Shark blog and read from April 2008 to the present. It’s a masterclass in writing pitches.

  • I love the rest of it!
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Oh, meant to add. You probably want to add comp titles, which shouldn’t be too tough since retellings are so popular these days. Brightly Burning is the most obvious one I can think of.

Also, you might consider Sci-Fi Romance as your genre.

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First, thank you for your exhaustive, genuine, and helpful comments in this section!

Though sci-fi is technically one of the subgenres, the story takes place in a time and place identical to our world. The sci-fi element resides in the Bridge technology–the virtual-reality gaming device.
Other than introducing the Bridge features (which I spread over the first 5 or 6 chapters), I don’t think world-building was really necessary.

I will add bits about Theo to shed light on his character, thanks!
As for the goals and risks, the mention of “memory thefts” was clear enough in my opinion. I kept the details for my synopsis :slight_smile:

I had “Black Mirror x Pride and Prejudice” in my pitch!

And I did consider sci-fi romance, but simplified it because the story starts as a historical romance and ends as a sci-fi romance. Romance being the common denominator, I picked it to describe the genre.

Just to clarify what is meant by comp titles, X meets Y with famous media is great for the elevator pitch, but in a query comp titles is refering to novels published within the past 2-3 (max 5) years which share similarities to your story, to show that your book is something that readers are buying right now.

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Memory thefts tells me nothing about Leah’s part.

Obviously, you don’t have to change anything, BUT please query in batches of 5-10. If you’re not getting responses over 10%, STOP and revisit your query package. Let the request numbers determine if it’s working or not.

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My bad! Thank you for the clarification.

I have “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, and “Austenland”!

That is a very helpful and easy-to-apply advice: thank you so much!

I’ll add a handful of literary agents to this first wave, and keep track of the results. Your wisdom is priceless!

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Hi, guys!

For your information, here is the updated query letter :slight_smile:

Many thanks to @XimeraGrey : your suggestions prooved invaluable.


Dear ________________,

Romantic, sharp-tongued, with a tendency to fall in love with tall, dark-haired, brooding men–Leah is the archetype of the Pride and Prejudice fan. TV series, movies, comics, musicals: she has seen and read them all.
For her birthday, Leah’s friends and family pool together to get her the ultimate Janeite gift: the Bridge, a virtual-reality gaming device. By granting access to her five senses, she can live her favourite novel as the iconic Elizabeth Bennet!

As she explores Regency England and quarrels with the infamous Darcy, Leah cannot help but digress from the original plot to suit her modern-woman convictions.
The longer she plays, the weirder her beloved characters act, until the lines between fiction and reality blur.

When Leah gives in to her attraction and kisses Darcy, he reveals there is a real person piloting him. As she befriends Theo, the tech-savvy but socially-awkward cutie behind the character, newscasts report an increasing amount of memory thefts.

Together with Theo, Leah finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy, and has to take down its mastermind before they seize control of players’ bodies.

MY VIRTUAL DARCY is a 58,000-word Romance with elements of speculative fiction. It is a standalone novel (with sequel potential), starting with a seemingly innocuous immersion in Jane Austen’s world, similarly to Austenland, or Seducing Mr. Darcy.
However, MY VIRTUAL DARCY reveals a darker side as the story unfolds–much similar to Black Mirror and its reflections on new technologies.
Like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I kept a good portion of Austen’s work, interspersed by my own dialogue tags and action beats.

I am a debut author, aka IT engineer on parental leave. I live in Bordeaux, France, and chose to write in English because my words flow is better in this language than in my mother tongue–which will deeply sadden my French teachers.

Thank you for your time.

Respectfully,

Ms. Monica Nguon

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@SCsoph Hi, Sophie! Tagging you here to show you my query letter: perhaps it can help shaping up yours :wink:

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