Friday, November 9, 2018

Query letter sample: Masked Man

Here is another query letter sample, this one for my novel Masked Man. This was in hard copy format, thus the header, which I'll leave in for posterity, but note that you wouldn't do that for an email query: just start with their first and last name (no Mr/Ms even).

I do remember this particular agent I was querying a second time, since he'd asked for the full manuscript of my novel CAT, based on my query letter for that. (see link for that). I'm not sure that was a good strategy, since he didn't end up liking CAT. He said he didn't find the main characters sympathetic. So, I thought I'd try him with a satire/comedy, which he did not like at all. Though he did reply back with a personal letter to say so. That's about the most successful I've been with querying.

Note that I didn't include a list of short fiction published, nor did I even list places I've published short fiction in the bio. Oops. Nor even did I put in a personal note to him reminding him that he'd liked CAT et cetera. Which he chastised me for. Always put in some kind of personal note to them. Just a paragraph to let them know, why them?

On the other hand, I still think this is a good query: It summarizes and shows what is at stake in the first paragraph, and shows that readers of certain other western-ish books might like it. Plus have "Maria Jose" as already published.

My bio here reads 'academic', which I go back and forth on whether that's good or bad. I've lately taken out my academic creds and listed my unique jobs, which to me seems more interesting. But, I could be wrong. Maybe it's not either/or.

john yohe
__________ dr. #g
jackson, mi 49203

February 22, 2012

_________ Literary Agency
______Central Park W
New York, NY 10025

Mr. _____:

A retired ASU philosophy professor, after losing his wife to cancer, heads south, by horse, dressed as a famous masked ranger to rescue a “mexican señorita” he's seen in a dream. He is accompanied by an Apache community college poet dropout. Getting to Mexico and finding the señorita, María José, is the easy part. Getting out, in the middle of a narcotraficante turf war, is not.

My novel, MASKED MAN, is a satire/homage to southwestern novels from both sides of the border, including those by Ed Abbey, Cormac McCarthy, and Roberto Bolaño, with (ir)reverent nods to Cervantes' Don Quixote, the original buddy story. Word count: 50,000. Pages: 192

An excerpt from the novel was published as the short story “María José” in the online literary journal SOL: English Writing in Mexico, and selected for their “Best of 2011” anthology:

John Yohe was born in Puerto Rico. He holds a MFA in Poetry Writing from The New School for Social Research, and a MA in The Teaching of Writing from Eastern Michigan University. He now teaches writing full-time at Jackson Community College. A complete list of his publications, and poetry, fiction and non-fiction writing samples can be found at his website:

Thank you,

John Yohe

The first 20 pages or so of Masked Man can be found here.

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