Dear Query Shark:
I read about you and your agency on Publishers Marketplace and your website and I am excited to submit this query for your consideration. The novel, “Flight Number July 17,” is a completed (161300+ words) multi-cultural/life story set in Iran and United States during the years preceding and following the Islamic revolution in Iran.
161K is a BIG novel. I'm always suspicious of word count like that because to me, it means there's a LOT of cutting needed. When I see this, I read on with an eagle eye for overwriting and verbosity.
When Farrah, a Persian Jewish girl, born in an affluent traditional family meets Hamid, a Persian Mojahed (Holly Warrior) in New York during a demonstration against the Shah of Iran, she does not realize that she has just taken her first step towards destruction of her life.
Remember you are querying an American agent who may not know that Iran is Persian or that Jews live in Iran. Also "affluent traditional family" may mean one thing to you and another thing to me. My idea of a traditional family involves apple pie and Thanksgiving turkey. Is that what you mean? Also it's Holy Warrior. I can overlook misspellings but you really need to be on this lest you use words that end up confusing the reader.
Farrah is raised with abundant love and respect. All her family expects from her, is to be obedient and protect the family’s good name. Life is perfect for everyone until Farrah leaves Iran to attend college in the United States. The Islamic revolution begins in Iran shortly after, which brings misfortune for her family. Meanwhile, Farrah gets involved and marries Hamid, a Muslim, Persian man, unaware that he is a fugitive who is using her as his shield. Hamid, in time, becomes intolerably abusive. Farrah, now with a new born baby, decides to take her son and go back to Iran, but she has committed the unforgivable crime against her family’s values by her marriage to a non-Jew. Her family have abandoned her with the fear of social shame. Farrah finds herself entrapped in that marriage, with nowhere to go. Yet, there is her son that keeps her hopeful and on her feet. Unfortunately, there are tragic events in front of her that gradually turn the life of this once a fairy princess to absolute devastation.
And here it is: over written. The second paragraph already has Farrah meeting Hamid. Now you're going back and explaining more. You don't need all this stuff. What HAPPENS and why it MATTERS are the key things you need here.
The novel “Flight Number July 17,” goes beneath the surface of social glamour and illustrates cultural prejudice, society’s expectations and judgments, fear and deception.
This is so general as to be useless. This is a novel about what happens to people. Make us care about that first.
I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran where I received my BA in English Literature and Translation. I emigrated to the United States before the beginning of the Iranian Islamic revolution. My employment experiences with the Iranian government, my acquaintances in American State Department, and my ethnic background as a Persian Jewish woman have helped me to portray the ethno-sociological, and political atmosphere of the story. Here, I have written and translated articles for various Farsi language publications.
Normally I don't care much about a writers credentials but for a novel like this, I think it's important that we know you have experience beyond google for the setting and sentiments.
I appreciate your time in considering my query. Please give me the opportunity to submit the complete work. I look forward to hearing from you.
And bonus points are awarded for not saying "hearing from you soon!"
This is the classic example of how a query letter can hurt you. I'm hugely interested in books exploring this kind of topic, and in fact had a roommate in college who was from Iran. I am all over the idea of this novel but the query letter tells me it's probably not yet ready for publication. Rather than get into any kind of back and forth about how to fix it, this one would get a form rejection cause there's enough stuff coming to me that's ready to sell.