Monday, October 24, 2011

Query Letter

[So I am close to submitting a manuscript for consideration. I don't have a literary agent, so I'm learning as I go. One of the new steps for me is the query letter. I have tried to follow the suggested format I have found in books and online, staring with just the title and a one sentence hook paragraph. Then a second paragraph with a slightly more detailed summary followed by a short bio with only relevant qualifications.

The question is, does it grab you? I know most people I meet, even if they have a connection to this in some way, yawn when it comes to history. I get excited just thinking about this, so I am a poor judge of whether this has a strong enough hook. ]

Dear [publisher's name],

Cane Creek: Tennessee’s Mormon Massacre
When a mob of angry men stormed the home of Jim and Malinda Conder where church services were being held, they left misery and terror in their wake, including five dead, one crippled, and scores who fled for their lives.
Non-fiction. 70,000 words.

In the hills of Lewis County, Tennessee, LDS missionaries baptized nearly fifty members of a large extended family. But their initial success was marred by false accusations of salacious behavior. On August 10th 1884, tensions erupted into violence and bloodshed. Two missionaries, two members and one mobber were shot dead. Much has been written about the two Elders killed, but the story is much deeper. Step into the lives of the people from Tennessee, both the converts and the shooters, and feel the conflict as they lived it.

I am an independent historian living in rural Tennessee. My work includes a paper on The Families of the Cane Creek Branch: Before and After the Massacre presented at the 2010 Mormon History Association conference. I have written articles for the Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia published by ABC-CLIO in 2010. I am also the primary writer for a blog on Tennessee LDS Church history at which has been online since 2008.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I have included a table of contents as specified in your submission guidlines. A sample of the first two chapters is available upon request.

Bruce Crow


Julie Kingsbury said...

Hi Bruce. I like your hook. My comments are totally going off my own opinion and my background (albeit an ancient one) of my journalism background. Just a suggestion..."one maimed for life " as opposed to crippled.
In the second paragraph maybe write..Two Utah missionaries, two members...
Step into the lives of these proud southerners from Tennessee, both the converts and the gunmen. Feel the conflict as the lived it.
I would love to buy a copy when you find a publisher. Also, have you considered self-publishing? You might consider some of the smaller publishing companies in Utah like Ceadarfort. Good luck in your endeavors. Julie

BruceCrow said...

Thanks for the suggestions, Julie. And thank you to those who sent me your thoughts off line. I'm going to give them all a try and see which ones feel the best.

I'll look up Ceadarfort. I've not heard of them before. I also thought a local Tennessee publisher might be interested, but I haven't seen one yet.

As for self publishing, from what I have seen so far it would make the book very pricy. But if no one else wants it, who knows.

Pat Miller said...

The picture you have posted for Tom Conder is not right. The picture is of Thomas Walker Conder born 1876 died 1963 and the son of George Henderson Conder.The Tom Conder that was hung was the son of Martin Conder and Rachel Anderson born 1884 and died 1889 in Tennessee. He was George Henderson Conder's brother and he named his son after his brother.

BruceCrow said...

Thanks for the correction. I'll take it down right away.