How to Write a Query Letter

Finding good examples of query letters and synopses online can be tough, especially when you’re an SF/F writer. I returned again and again to this one by Lynn Flewelling when I started writing mine.

And lo, look, now here’s a whole bunch of them.

For those working on Queries, I also recommend Elizabeth Lyon’s book, The Sell Your Novel Toolkit. It has a ton of great synposes and query samples, and it was just the book I needed to read when I started seriously trying to sell books.

Here’s my contribution to the collective wisdom of the free internets. The Query that got me my agent, who subsequently got me my deal. Personally, I still think it’s a little dense and wordy, but hey, it piqued some interest:

April 23, 2007

Dear <Agent>,

God’s War is a 90,000 word SF novel of faith, betrayal and submission played out in the contaminated deserts of Nasheen, a matriarchal nation engaged in a centuries-old holy war.

Nyxnissa “Nyx” so Dasheem is a bel dame, one of the brutal women engaged in hunting deserters. After getting caught selling out her womb to gene pirates, she is stripped of her bel dame title and forced to make a tenuous living as a less-than-respectable bounty hunter. Nyx’s luck appears to improve when she’s offered a bounty on an interstellar gene pirate who’s fled – or been kidnapped – from the royal compound. While trying to keep together her ragtag crew of mercenaries, Nyx pursues the elusive alien across Nasheen’s parched interior and over the war-torn border with Chenja.

There, under the dim lights of Chenja’s underground fighting rings, Nyx must face a black market boxer, a traitorous magician, and the betrayal of one of her team members. As her crew begins to unravel, Nyx finds herself hunted by her former bel dame sisters and a notorious war veteran. If Nyx can salvage her crew and outwit her rivals, she could hold the key to ending Nasheen’s centuries-old conflict in her bloody hands.

My educational background is in the political history of southern Africa, with an emphasis on the experiences of female guerilla fighters. I am a Clarion West graduate, and some of my work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Talebones, and the upcoming Year’s Best SF 12.

The partial or full manuscript and synopsis of God’s War are available for review upon your request. I am currently drafting a sequel, Black Desert, and a third and final volume is in outline form.

Thank you for considering this proposal. I have enclosed an SASE, and I look forward to hearing from you.


Kameron Hurley

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