Query Feedback: The Year of the Witch

Copies of Lorin and Brenda's feedback are available for download in the Resources for Writers section under Extras. 

If you're interested in submitting your first page (up to 250 words) for feedback, please email a Word doc or text file copy to erin_anderson@free-expressions.com. 

Feedback sessions are also open for QUERY LETTER submissions (up to 400 words)! Email a Word doc or text file copy to erin_anderson@free-expressions.com to participate.

 

The Year of the Witch by Julia B. 

Original: 

Dear Agent:

I’m seeking representation for my 100,000-word urban fantasy, THE YEAR OF THE WITCH, where a young woman tries to save her new home—a hidden refuge for magiqual women—and accidentally kills God in the process.

A year ago, seventeen-year-old India knew it wasn’t normal to have a black coil of destructive energy living in her gut, but she didn’t understand just how weird she was until her mother died. That’s when strangers came to take her to the Isle of Women, where her mother had apparently lived and loved before leaving everyone in the magiqual lurch. Now India has discovered she’s one-third of the magiqual trinity that’s supposed to keep the Isle safe, which is just great since she hasn’t the faintest idea how to use the abilities she’d always been told were evil. Her job doesn’t get any easier when the third member of the trinity is finally found and turns out to be the ten-year-old daughter of the Isle’s oldest enemy. Together, they have to bond to the land and the magique in time to save the female refugees who’ve called the Isle home for the last five hundred years.

India stands out among young female urban fantasy protagonists because despite having been beaten down and betrayed, she refuses to let her pain eclipse her ability to love—even if it leaves her defiantly vulnerable.

After reading Keri Arthur’s DARKNESS UNBOUND, I thought my story might be a good fit for the type of work you represent.

Though I was a journalist for a local women’s magazine a hundred years ago, I’m unpublished in the field of book-length fiction. However, I’ve worked hard these past fifteen years, attending conferences and many of Don Maass’s Breakout Novel Intensives and workshops, and I think I have a good grasp on what makes a story move. Plus, I’ve been telling stories—mostly to myself—since I was four, so. 

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Julia B.

 

Dear Agent:

I’m seeking representation for my 100,000-word urban fantasy, In THE YEAR OF THE WITCH, where a young woman tries to save her new home—a hidden refuge for magiqual women—and accidentally kills God in the process.

A year ago, seventeen-year-old India knew it wasn’t normal to have a black coil of destructive energy living in her gut, [Does she actually think of herself/her powers/her body this way? It might be more effective to specifically describe what she’s able to do with this energy, or how it manifests in her life.] but she didn’t understand just how weird she was until her mother died. That’s when strangers came to take her to the Isle of Women, where her mother had apparently lived and loved before leaving everyone in the magiqual lurch. Now India has discovered she’s one-third of the magiqual trinity that’s supposed to keep the Isle safe, which is just great since she hasn’t the faintest idea how to use the abilities she’d always been told were evil. Her job doesn’t get any easier when the third member of the trinity is finally found and turns out to be the ten-year-old daughter of the Isle’s oldest enemy. Together, they have to bond to the land and the magique in time to save the female refugees who’ve called the Isle home for the last five hundred years. [What will happen to these women and the island if the trinity fails? And are there specific consequences for India as well? Do the three succeed? Also, it would be great to explain a bit more about the ‘killing God’ idea mentioned above, since that’s such an attention-grabber.]

India stands out among young female urban fantasy protagonists because despite having been beaten down and betrayed, she refuses to let her pain eclipse her ability to love—even if it leaves her defiantly vulnerable.

My completed urban fantasy manuscript stands complete at 100,000 words, and after reading Keri Arthur’s DARKNESS UNBOUND, I thought my the story might be a good fit for the type of work you represent. In writing this novel, I worked hard to distinguish my main character, and I believe India stands out among young female urban fantasy protagonists because, despite having been beaten down and betrayed, she refuses to let her pain eclipse her ability to love—even if it leaves her defiantly vulnerable.

Though I was a journalist for a local women’s magazine a hundred number of years ago, I’m unpublished in the field of book-length fiction. However, I’ve worked hard I have dedicated myself to my craft these for the past fifteen years, attending conferences and many of Don Maass’s Breakout Novel Intensives and workshops, and I think I have a good grasp on what makes a story move. Plus, I’ve been telling stories—mostly to myself—since I was four, so.

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.

Sincerely,

Julia B.

Hi Julia—

Thanks so much for submitting your query letter for feedback. You really had a lot of good content to work with going in, but you’ll see I moved things around just a bit. I also had a few ideas for additional details you could add to the story summary. I do feel an agent will want a stronger sense of both the final outcome and the consequences and ramifications, both for India specifically and for the story as a whole, as well as a clearer idea of her relationship to her magic, how it works in her world, etc.

And, though I personally enjoyed the humor in your original version, I do worry that it might not hit just the right note with every agent. So, I did rearrange and tighten things a bit, going from story description to marketing information to author background.

I hope that helps, and I thank you again for sharing your letter!

--Brenda