Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Greatest Query Letter Ever --?

I think this lady is a writer  trying to get past the "gatekeepers."
After untold anxiety and knocking of noggins against walls, desks, etc; after checking too many reference sources for "rules"; after showing my query letter to countless hapless individuals; after wringing my hands over how many characters to name and how much to highlight Doña Lambra's role, I got advice from not one, but two, honest-to-God fabulous writers and ended up with what I have to assume is the greatest query letter ever. Tell me, does this make you want to read the book?

THE SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS OF LARA is a medieval epic novel with a fast pace, strong women, and valiant knights. It is probably the only novel you will ever read that features a bloody cucumber. 

When courageous, but hot-headed, young knight Gonzalo defends his pride at a wedding in tenth-century Spain, he unwittingly launches fifteen years of devastation on his homeland as the outraged bride wreaks a bloody revenge against him and his family. New hope for peace and justice comes from the unlikeliest place: Córdoba, the shining capital of Muslim Andalusia. Mudarra, our powerful young hero from this exotic civilization, looks just like his half-brother Gonzalo, but would rather catch falling almond blossoms as if they were snowflakes than face his own turbulent history. If Mudarra takes his jeweled sword to the throats of his betrayers, can he restore his family’s power and fulfill his purpose in life?

[A brilliant paragraph adjusted for each agent discussing other books mine is similar to as well as what makes it unique.]

I came across the seed of this story during the course of my PhD in Medieval Spanish. It captivated me so much that I could only analyze it by writing the novel. I hold an MFA from the University of Iowa and have published short stories in many literary magazines. As a day job, I edit freelance and publish fiction with the small Loose Leaves Publishing. I maintain a blog that is growing in popularity at jessicaknauss.blogspot.com and have started a site with information about THE SEVEN NOBLE KNIGHTS OF LARA at 7nkl.blogspot.com.

[A friendly-professional signoff noting what, if anything, is included with this letter and offering the entire manuscript for review, because it's ready.]

The one additional thing I would really like to add is a line or two of quotations from amazing (bestselling) authors who have read the book and love it so much they wish they had written it. If you know any great authors who would like to support a book like this, please introduce me!

If/when I change my audience to small presses, I have a few wonderful friend-authors up my sleeve already. If anyone can tell me when it's time to switch audiences, please weigh in!

The only real test of a query letter is whether it gets the needed professionals on the author's corner, taking the punches and planning offensives until the desired publication, miniseries, and awards finally roll in. In the meantime, I'll keep revising (and writing other books).


  1. It's probably good that I'm not an agent. Every time I see a sentence like "If Mudarra takes his jeweled sword to the throats of his betrayers, can he restore his family’s power and fulfill his purpose in life?" I keep wanting the next sentence to be, "Well, no, actually, he couldn't." But seriously, yes, it would make me want to read the book!

    1. You should be an agent -- I wish you could be my agent with a reaction like that! Thanks for reading.

  2. You hooked me with the bloody cucumber!

    1. Thanks, Diane! I thought that might be a selling point.