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The Costanza Query

April 9, 2011

I got tired of trying to think of clever ways to pitch this, so I decided to pull a George Costanza and do the exact opposite.  Ironically this actually seems like my most genuine query ever.  Come on, the pessimism and dry humor, doesn’t that have Rogue Mutt written all over it?  Damn straight.

You’re the expert when it comes to marketing, so I’m just going to put this plainly.  A Hero’s Journey is a 100,000-word novel about a girl who in finding a suit of magic armor learns to become not just a hero, but also a woman.  So it’s a coming of age story as well as a superhero story.

Our superhero is Dr. Emma Earl, who earned her PhD at age nineteen by withdrawing from the world and throwing herself into work after her parents died ten years earlier.  She finally gets her dream job as a geologist at the natural history museum she loved visiting as a child, but almost right away things go wrong.  Her new boss hates her, she’s conflicted about her feelings for an attractive coworker, and that attractive coworker brings her a mysterious object to study.  That mysterious object releases an ancient monster known as the Black Dragoon into the city.

Emma is the one who hears the call of a suit of magic armor to become the next Scarlet Knight, defender of truth, justice, and all that stuff.  She doesn’t want to be responsible for so many lives when she couldn’t save the two she cared about the most, but she doesn’t get a choice about it when the Black Dragoon kidnaps her mentor, the previous incarnation of the Scarlet Knight.

As Emma learns what it takes to be a superhero, she also learns how to live with her past and the guilt that’s haunted her for a decade.  Throughout the other seven novels in the series, Emma faces a variety of challenges in and out of the magic armor.  This includes the ultimate challenge of balancing her responsibility to the city with her responsibility as a parent.  The point then is to tell not just a comic book story, but a human story.

Anyway, this might be the worst query letter you read today, but I haven’t got anywhere with “good” query letters either.  If you have a blog, feel free to post this as an example of what not to do.


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  1. This is a different approach, for sure. The “opposite” episode of Seinfeld is one of my fav’s!!!

    Still, I probably wouldn’t actually send this to an agent. 😉

  2. Good luck with the approach mutt. You may just find an Agent with whom this resonates. I can’t give any advice because, if I were an Agent, I would have represented you from the first couple pages of your novel I read several weeks past. Thing is, how do you get them to read your stuff like that and make a determination? This little letter here just might work.The more and more I think about query letters, the more “psychology” of the person reading it seems to come into play. I’ve always hated psychology…not an exact science…so many things come into play, etc.

    • It’s like my favorite episode of “The Simpsons” where Lisa decides the best way to make friends is to completely change her image. When Marge tells her to “be herself,” she says, “I’ve been myself for 8 years and it hasn’t worked!” I’ve sent out queries the way they say to do them for years now on different projects and it hasn’t done anything. So doing the exact opposite can’t do any worse.

  3. Hey, why not? A new approach is sometimes the thing that gets you noticed. Good luck!

  4. So far 0-1. The others are 0-14 or something. There you go.

    Have I mentioned how much bullshit it is they go on and on about how you have to look up the specific agent and get that person’s sex right and so on but then two things:

    A lot of these agencies just have one Email address for all submissions, so it’s probably just an intern reading them all anyone. And two, you go to all this effort to find out about them and they’re allowed to send a form Email saying “Dear Author” because they’re so busy. As if you’re not. They act like doctors that way.

  5. I look forward to seeing what sort of responses you get – I can’t see why not. I mean they may find your honesty refreshing 😀

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