Morgan’s Query Corner:
Answering Your Query Quandaries
“Trail To Testament” is a historical/contemporary fantasy. When Union veteran Theodore Benjamin arrives home to find his family slaughtered and cannibalized, he sets out on a mission of revenge, never knowing his path would lead him to become Ben, the street-folk-hero of the modern-day streets of Testament, New York.
I love the plot and am curious about his life-span! It makes me want to read more.
My only comments are:
- Organizationally, the query is a little off. It should be addressed and formatted like a business email.
- Pick ONE genre. I’m trying to decide what your novel is: historical fantasy? Contemporary fantasy? saga? Gothic fantasy? Supernatural horror? Don’t make something up, they need to know how to market it. decide where in the bookstore you want your book to be put. Who should its neighbors be?
- Novellas/ novelettes are hard to market, so emphasizing that portion of the novel is unlikely to be motivating to an agent.
- 120,000 is the upper limit of a novel from a non-established author. Is there anywhere you can cut?
[Need to address the letter and left align everything.]
Trail to Testament [Working Title]
In 1866, Theodore Benjamin returned home as a Union Civil War veteran to find his wife, daughter and infant son horribly murdered and cannibalized. [WOW! I’m pulled in, sympathetic for the main character, and we have setting and motivation just like that.]
Mentally unhinged by exposure to the violations of his family and home, Theodore finds himself compelled to track down his family’s murderer, hunting him through the streets following cues [or clues? both could work] only he seems able to see and finally using his bare hands to tear out the invisible puppet master working the murder’s body like an automaton. Recognizing only afterwards that to anyone else, he has murdered a stranger in the street, so he flees into the night and his own disjointed perceptions. [Oh dear! ]
This proved to be only the first steps on Theodore Benjamin’s bizarre journey.
Awakening periodically from being lost in a travelling mental fugue, Theodore Benjamin takes on the opaquely plain travelling name “Ben”, slowly losing bits of his personal history while picking up new experiences, skills and tools to defend himself and others against the unnatural forces he can now perceive that most others cannot. Compelled to journey eastward toward an unknown destination, he surfaces from his fugues at a Dust Bowl era farm struggling to survive unnatural forces driving the vicious winds; at a Prohibition-defying Louisiana plantation manse where a man is holding tight to a treasure from thieves only he can see; at a forest where a woman with repressed bestial tendencies must face those who have been embraced by them; and finally coming to rest in the upstate New York town of Testament where Ben falls in with street-folk and ultimately under the auspices of wildly unorthodox psychiatric treatment. [I’m not sure how to rephrase this so you emphasize the continual story nature, without making it sound like a series of separate stories starring the same character…]
Trail to Testament is an anthology of five novelette to novella length stories [15,000 to 25,000 words] chronicling the evolution through time and space of former Union soldier Theodore Benjamin into the street-folk-hero known only as Ben on the streets of Testament, New York. Appealing to readers enjoying urban fantasy with a hint of historical fiction, comparable works would be entries of Kat Richardson’s Greywalker series or, to a lesser extent, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, starting with a more historical bent before advancing to a more contemporary time-frame.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Revised Query:
Knowing what books you think make good comparisons for your novel can be helpful in deciding what genre to pitch a story as.
If you think you have a series of novellas featuring the same character, look at the stories. Is there an over-arching goal or theme that they all include? Can you edit them for greater cohesion?
Best of luck to Q9!
And for the rest of you out there?
Best of luck in the query trenches!