I promised to do a follow-up on my Query Letter Best Practices post, showing how I've used these best practices to improve my query letter. Here it is.
MY ORIGINAL QUERY LETTER
In a world where no one can escape death, some have been chosen to experience it again and again. When thirteen-year-old Howie Adelmar, a part German descendant of the Lenape Turtle Clan, is given a gold medallion without explanation, little does he know that he's been chosen to fight an evil power that quietly rules over the decrepit mining town of Carbondale, Pennsylvania—if he passes the test.
Disappearing students, burning hands, and foreboding encounters with the school principal turns Howie’s best friend against him when all he wants is to play football and to learn about a dead father he never knew (dang tough with a mom who won’t speak of the dead!). After proving to be the fastest player on the team, the only congratulation Howie gets is his first death threat. Welcome to Carbondale! When Howie’s grandpa dies and he’s faced with losing the only home he knows, Howie must decide what to do with the gold medallion. A trip to the local pawn shop seals his fate. Howie encounters one of The Seven Princes of Hell in search of lost powers from the great star that fell from heaven. Dying is the only way to escape. Lucky for Howie, there are five others who have been secretly watching—waiting to help him die.
A multi-cultural fantasy series, THE LACKAWANNA PROPHECIES—THE LAST MEDALLION is complete at 93,000 words. Fans of Rick Riordan's PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS series will enjoy this original take on Lenape and Biblical folklore set in modern day. The complete manuscript is available upon request.
MY QUERY LETTER USING BEST PRACTICES
Dying is the only way to escape. That’s what fifteen-year old Howie Adelmar discovers when he goes to Mac Dog’s pawn shop with a simple but flawed plan: sell the medallion, save his home, be the hero. He never thought his best friend would betray him, or that he’d end up dead, or that the Seven Princes of Hell controlled Carbondale.
Howie’s grandfather makes him recite the same family motto every day: We Adelmars aren’t afraid of the Black Shadow—we live noble and die famous. Only death is what frightens Howie most because his Lenape mother forbids anyone to speak of the dead.
After registering at Carbondale High, a school where Principal Blackstone secretly determines the fate of every student from a single interview, Howie receives a gold medallion for protection. What Roderick, the closet Demon Hunter who gives it to him, fails to mention is that Howie is being watched, tested to see what he’ll do when he discovers the medallion’s power.
Howie doesn’t know he’s the third generation in his family to wear the medallion or that he’s the first with Lenape bloodlines. He hears ancestral voices in his head—super annoying when he’s busying guessing what Callie’s lips taste like, but very helpful when it comes to understanding how to stop the Seven Princes of Hell from taking over the world. But for any of it to matter, Howie must confront death and swear the Demon Hunter’s creed. Or they’ll be coming after him for bargaining with the Prince of Greed.
THE LAST MEDALLION, book one of THE LACKAWANNA PROPHECIES series, is a contemporary, urban fantasy. Complete at 93,000 words, it is akin to Rick Riordan for young adults, only with a fusion of Lenape and Christian mythology. I found your profile and your request for fantasy works through Writer’s Digest. I published a short essay at Brigham Young University and have worked in communications, including Director of Workforce Communications, for more than a decade. My full manuscript is available upon request.
- My original query was too vague. What test did he need to pass? What foreboding encounters? How does his best friend get turned against him? Who are the "some" that have been chosen to experience death again and again? Why is he getting death threats?
- My original query never clearly showed what the main conflict was for my protagonist.
- What's the basis for his character arc?
- What does Howie want more than anything?
I don't claim that this new version of my query letter is perfect, but I do believe it has a much better chance at success because of the best practices I've applied. I'd love your feedback. How do you think the two query letters compare. What do you like or not like about them?