Dear Ice Cube Press:
I’m a Des Moines resident, and I love the state of Iowa. I have written a book that takes place at a farm several miles away Des Moines (if you’re querying us, then I already know you have written a book). It is about faith, hope, and a boy’s love for his dog.
Most agents and publishers will stop reading here. I, on the other hand, will smack my head against my desk instead. The first sentence isn’t important. The fact that you’re a Des Moines resident doesn’t matter, and where you live in general doesn’t matter in a query unless it’s related to your book. Second point, you’re telling and not showing. If I ever see “my book is about”, I know I have a teller. Show me what your book is about. Show me how your book is about faith, hope, and love. Telling instead of showing is one of my biggest pet peeves.
My synopsis is this. It begins when a dog of the boy’s family gives birth to five pups. One of them is unwanted by his mother, so the boy decides to rescue and raise the pup himself.
Please don’t ever start with “My synopsis is…” Again, that’s telling. If I hadn’t stopped reading after the first paragraph, I would have stopped here. What is the boy’s name? In a query letter, I want a sense of who the main character is, and I definitely won’t if I don’t get a name. I also see we’re still telling instead of showing. What you want to write is this: “When John’s dog gives birth, she abandons one of her pups, so he raises it himself. See the difference?
The boy and his pup become friends. He learns about responsibility and love through raising his dog (telling). When his dog is a year old, his family sells the dog to a mean man who lives in Des Moines (mean man— telling). The boy is very upset when he looses his dog and decides to get him back (telling). He adventures to Des Moines. Attractions in this book include the Iowa State Fair, Blank Park Zoo, and the Iowa State Capitol Building. (Telling. And I understand that since we publish Iowa books that you think this information about the attractions will impress us, but it’s actually useless. Delete it.)
Because you’re telling, I don’t feel how close the boy and his dog are. How does the boy learn responsibility and love? Again, show. Also, what kind of cruel parents give their son’s dog away? Are they an abusive family that doesn’t care about the feelings of their son? I can see why that mother dog abandoned her pup. She must’ve picked up a few things from the human parents. You need to explain why the family gave the dog away or else it will feel out of place.
The hook is if the boy ever gets his dog back (telling). How will the dog survive the mean man? Will they ever be reunited?
I never got the sense that the dog was in danger by this man. Since I don’t have a sense of the characters, I don’t really care what happens to them. Also, don’t tell me what the hook is. Show it.
A YOUNG LAD’S DOG is my debut novel. It is competed at 54,000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The problem with this query is that it tells instead of shows. If there’s telling in the query, then I’m sure the book is full of telling. Also, there’s no voice in this query because there is so much telling. Your voice is dull, and it makes me wonder how dull your manuscript is.
Verdict: Telling instead of showing Don’t know the main character’s name Don’t care about the characters Boring voice.
The Query Seal will send a rejection.