Directly below this post should be the original which, well isn’t really an original but it’s the version i’m tweaking right now.

Black Dog Publishers, whom i’m researching as i edit and so on, specify a Cover letter, CV, synopsis and ‘book’ in the body of the email. Problem is a whole book won’t just email in the body – it’s too big, so i’m going with the first five pages which is what most others ask for, and if they want more i’m hoping they will ask for it. But i’ll admit i don’t want to deviate from their requests, i rick them just simply not asking for more because i can’t follow instructions.

The first chunk i just worked through went like this:

Kemla is a 17 year old, a young adult at the ripe age for marriage but marriage is something she wants nothing to do with. In fact Kemla would rather avoid men all together, and magic and slave traders and all manner of mythical creatures too – but destiny has other plans for her.

Then i realised, it’s too vague. A random reader who i’ve never met before isn’t going to have a clue what i’m on about. I like this style of presenting my work, better still i prefer the query below where Kemla herself is telling the story because it displays how i writer which is essentially what i’m trying to sell. But then it’s not really working (hence the reason why i’m editing another query letter, if it was working the novel would be in front of readers in bookstores and so on) so i’m going against what i prefer and working on something more 2D and more profession like – even if it does feel like it lacks flavor.

Dear …………

I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read this, I understand that your time is valuable. The manuscript I’m presenting you with is ‘Kemla’, the first novel in my young adult fantasy series set in a medieval world.  You are the first publisher to view ‘Kemla’ and i will respect your 3 month exclusive request. I have looked over your current titles, ‘Descent’ by Charlotte McConaghy for example, and believe that ‘Kemla’, my young adult fantasy novel, is both original and fitting for your list. My compressed CV, writing relevent only, reads…. but i prefer to let my work speak for itself.

The first book begins with Kemla, the main character, and her extended family in hiding however she is soon captured by slave traders. Kemla’s capture leads the reader through an unfolding of themes including magic which Kemla hadn’t known she possessed, trust which she finds in a slave trader named Leon and freedom which she has never fully experienced in her 17 years of life. Leon takes on an almost brotherly role, something Kemla struggles with given he is her captor however midway through the book he ensures her escape. Kemla finds herself in a strange land and far from home. Her need for food and shelter leads her, seeming by fate, to Orin’s family homestead. Kemla’s life is still ruled by the scars of capture and the torments of her childhood but now she has a new emotion to trouble her – love.

She takes her time to understand this new world which she has been thrust into, the world of a young woman. Accepting her dark past, memories of a rough father and desperate times, is instrumental in her eventual acceptance of freedom.

Kemla the series embodies many of the struggles that teens face, love, acceptance, trust, coming of age and bearing maturity. The series also includes all the elements to distract readers from their own troubles. There’s magic and danger, struggle and triumph, family, loss and great moments of success.

Book one sits at ………….. words.

Book two has been drafted at ………….. words and follows Kemla on an adventure into new lands where she challenges social order, learns to joust, builds her magical ability and saves Leon’s life.

Book three is all about family. It currently sits at ……………. words and follows Kemla as she attempts to right the wrongs of her father to save her mother and extended family from a death sentence.

In each book Kemla learns a little more about herself, grows up a little more and dives into another aspect of her world, there’s always a presence of magic and an element of danger and a lot of dancing along the line between right and wrong.

I have had success with short story competitions since primary school. I graduated with my HSC in 2001 and completed (part time) my degree in arts and teaching in 2009. Currently i’m working as a manager in tourism and i love both my management position and the time i spend writing.

Please find the first five pages below for your perusal. The full manuscript is immediately available. Again i would like to thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

A few things i’d like to point out.

  • I am struggling with my opening sentence. I don’t want to just jump in without some kind of polite ice-breaker but then i don’t want to seem like a suck-up either. Is thanking someone for their time being a suck-up?
  • I’ve used Kemla’s name wherever possible because lets face it it is an odd name, there’s a curious story behind the name but i don’t think this is the place for it (in the query letter), so i’ve tried to make the reader of the query familiar with the name by using it lost instead of using ‘she’ or ‘her’.
  • They have asked for my CV but i don’t think that saying i worked in a bar for 2 years or mentioning my time as a childcare is going to help me get published – if i could shot fireballs than that would be relevent but i can’t so i compressed my CV.
  • I have read that introducing names in the query is a tricky ‘probably shouldn’t do it’ type thing, so i mention only Leon and Orin, the two key males characters, and of course Kemla. I want the reader to feel drawn into the story and i don’t feel i can do that unless i put some names to the ideas.

It really needs some polishing, but it’s getting late and the lounge is more comfey than the office.

The big question – if you read that Query would you want to read more?