Strength In Your Queries: Destitutes And Fiends

It’s the last day of ALL ABOUT QUERYING month and we’ll be wrapping it up with one final query letter analysis and experience.

Post by L.O. Nobi

Destitutes and Fiends spent all of 4/5 days in the query trenches before it started getting full requests. About two weeks later, I had offers of representation and an agent, and three months later I’m officially on submissions! 🥳 Now, I can’t say the query letter did all the work but… it must’ve had some effect. So let’s look at it together: what worked and what might not have.

Dear Ms. ,

It’s 1852, and at the cusp of a glittering London social season, an alarming bargain is about to ensue.

When nineteen-year-old Eric, the scarred Duke of Wentworth, settles upon a marriage of convenience with Ava Delany, the terms are clear: his wealth for a wife who can stand his scars. Still wounded by rejections from acquaintances though, he has no intention of ever allowing the spitfire miss into his enclosed heart. An eighteen-years-old Irish immigrant with loan sharks at her heels, Ava is desperate. For her, there’s no stronger lure than the prospect of financial security. Except for the cynical, infuriating Duke himself, that is.

Before the young duke and maid can wed, however, the dowager duchess’s approval is compulsory. The dowager’s condition is that Ava exhibits faultless duchess potential at the queen’s annual ball. Otherwise, she can kiss a duchy goodbye and say hello once more to the slums.

The Agapemonites are enraged by this prospect of a union between a duke and street-rat. The pauper would only taint the duke’s bloodline with the sins of her class. Now, they plan to do whatever possible to save the duke’s soul from damnation. When Ava is attacked multiple times, the duo finds themselves investigating the dark pockets of London and seeking answers about the cult.

Beneath London high society’s watchful eye and a sizzling attraction not even cutting banter can deny, Ava and Eric must attempt to transform Ava into the perfect duchess in three weeks–in this tale as old as time.

– Word count: approximately 303 words with bio and personalization included.

Writing D&F’s query letter was honestly pretty easy and although I’d written it twice, both versions of the letter got MS requests. And while it might all seem like a piece of cake now, it’s only because before D&F I’d spent weeks creating and recreating a query package for my other story. It was with that query letter I experienced the panics of: ‘how can I cram my entire storyline into less than 500 words?!’ ‘what details should I put in and which should I leave out?’, ‘how many characters should I mention?’ etc.

Eventually, after many trials and errors and tweaks and rewrites, after the initial vague query letter and then the boring letter and then the too-long letter and then the over-dramatic letter, I was able to put together a solid query letter. Through that experience, I learned a lot about writing this interesting article and that’s why it was quite easy writing D&F’s. With the queries done, I sent both out into the world. And D&F ended up getting agent attention first.

Now, let’s delve into The Analysis.

What works:

1. The very first line creates a clear setting so it’s a set foundation for the rest of the letter, because you can see just where and when the characters are. It also raises questions. What is this bargain? Why is it alarming? (Also if you’re a beauty and the beast fan, you’ve probably grabbed that it’s a slight nod to the soundtrack!)

2. Second paragraph introduces the major characters, their situations, and a snippet of the conflict between them.

3. Third and fourth paragraphs introduce the barriers the MCs have to overcome as well as the stakes–which is very key. A story needs stakes!

4. The final paragraph was me playing with rhymes a bit and appealing to the Disney-loving side the agents hopefully had, while trying to show a bit more of the narrative’s voice.

What hadn’t worked:

1. I’d originally pitched it as YA. And it took speaking with agents to open my eyes to the fact that the story reads more as Adult, although it could work well as a crossover. A rejection to a full MS came with feedback that while she’d enjoyed the MS, it read more as Adult regency rather than YA and she’d wanted complete YA.

2. My query had about 7 paragraphs in total (with personalization and bio included) and while it still served, I think it’s advisable to keep query paragraphs down to 5!

Ultimately, I had loads of fun writing this book and the query letter, and I think that ease shows through the letter. And based on our interview with Sam Courtland, he’d said one thing he wants to feel through a query letter is that the writer knows what they’re talking about. And I think I succeeded at that here too.

So I hope you can take something from this analysis, from ALL ABOUT QUERYING month as a whole, and wish you the best with your journey!

L.O. Nobi is an avid writer, one of her prominent projects DESTITUTES AND FIENDS on submissions to editors. She’s a lover of words, Disney, and represented by her agent. You can find her tweeting here, or visit her personal blog here

Published by path2pub

From The Trenches To The Shelves

15 thoughts on “Strength In Your Queries: Destitutes And Fiends

  1. Submissions! Aah how exciting!! Good luck with that. I love seeing the insight into how D&F query letter came about. It really does sound like you enjoyed writing it, especially with the rhyming and nod to Disney 🙂
    All about querying was very enlightening, thank you all for doing this for us!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes the letter really just flowed out of me in minutes and despite repeatedly reading it, I couldn’t seem to find jarring faults. We’re so glad you found AAQ enlightening!


  2. A splendid post and way to end All About Querying. This was a very insightful month on Path2pub!


  3. Awesome post, Lucia! It’s great to know the story behind D&F query letter and how you had to practice with a previous letter. It also shows how open you are to learning and improving – which is very inspiring. I’ve def gotten lessons for improving my own query package this month, and I’ll miss All About Querying. Also, congratulations on being on submissions! I can’t wait to see what comes next!


  4. Hi Lucia! Yay submissions 🥰 Your query letter is impressive and flows smoothly. I LOVE that you played with rhymes and nodded to the Beauty and the Beast with the letter. How cool is that! Honestly, this feels like you’ve unlocked another level of kickass in the query game, haha. I love the first paragraph and would surely be curious to read more too if I saw it, and the rest of the letter hits the nail on the head while being captivating.

    Thanks for pointing out what didn’t work too! I’m even more eager to have your book on my shelves so I can see the voice and tell how it sounds more adult! 7 paragraphs is quite long but I love how your letter worked regardless- it proves that all you really need is a great story and everything else would follow. I love this post and I’ll keep referring to it! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for sharing this! It’s very insightful! All About Querying was awesome 😎 If you maybe need inspiration for an article topic, it’ll be great to know what being on submissions is like and the behind the scenes of it – congratulations too 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: