Monday, October 1, 2012

How To Write A Terrible Query Letter

I’m in the querying process, which means I’ve done a lot of research trying to figure out how to write the perfect letter. You can find examples online of well written queries, but after reading three or four, they start to sound the same. And every agent wants something different, which makes it even more confusing. I thought maybe a what-not-to-do letter would be more helpful. And guess what! I know what not to do, so I whipped up a terrible sample query. Do not write a letter like this.

Hey Janice,

How’s it going? Pretty busy, I bet. I just want to drop you a quick email about the fiction novel I wrote. It’s a 350,000 word YA paranormal/erotica/adventure called UNICORNS IN PARADISE. And it is DANG good! I emailed it to my brother, and he forwarded it to our family and friends, and now it’s all they ever talk about! They keep saying, “Wow Stephanie, you have quite the imagination” and “I’ve tried everything, but I can’t get that unicorn threesome out of my mind. It’s burned into my brain!” So yeah, my book is unforgettable. 

Sit back in your chair, kick off those Naturalizer pumps, close your eyes, and let me tell you about UNICORNS IN PARADISE. 

In the year 2014, Iran develops nukes and bombs a bunch of countries. Everyone on the planet dies of radiation poisoning, but one animal species survives: horses. (I don’t know why yet, but for some reason their bodies are immune to the radiation. I’m sure if we brainstorm, we can think of an answer together.) The horses eat the planet’s nuclear-soaked vegetation, and their bodies mutate. The ones who are nice turn into unicorns; the ones who are mean turn into pegasus. (Or is the plural pegasi? I guess that’s what editors are for.) Because the pegasi can fly, they feel superior and try to take over the world by throwing the unicorns into concentration camps. While in prison, a teenage unicorn named Dude hears about a place called Laramie Wyoming that hasn’t been touched by radiation. Supposedly, it’s super beautiful, and the food and water flow like milky nectar from a mother’s engorged teat. Dude convinces his unicorn pals, Lance and Jennifer, to bust out of prison with him and take off in search of Laramie. Along the way, love blooms between Dude, Lance, and Jennifer. It gets pretty heated, and there are a few unicorn sex scenes. (I still think it’s okay for YA because teenagers nowadays are horny bastards.) There’s some jealousy, you know, the usual bisexual unicorn love triangle. The pegasi come after them too, which makes it really suspenseful. You’ll just have to read it.

I know your submissions policy says to only include the first five pages, but I went ahead and attached the whole book, because I’m sure you’ll want to start reading it right away. I did illustrations at the beginning of each chapter too, and I was even thinking UNICORNS IN PARADISE could work as a graphic novel. I’ve sketched out the love scenes already and can send you a copy of those if you want. Just a heads up, you should probably read UNICORNS IN PARADISE tonight because I’m sending out about 100 query letters today, and I know I’m going to get a buttload of offers. Well, I guess that’s it. 


Stephanie Funk

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