My Query Letter for the Duke’s Trumpet

Hi All,

Would really, really, really value some input on what you all think of my Query Letter before I send it out! Thanks again guys 🙂 Please leave some constructive advice on the comments below please! It’s written in character! 🙂 Underneath I’ll have my own contact info. And I would replace ‘Dear Agent’ to the appropriate person or publishing house when I research some!

“Dear Agent,

If you could travel through any-when in Earth’s history, where would you go?

That is the decision I face every day being a time traveler, which I have been ever since I was eighteen and ran away with the Time House my father built for me, along with my robot companion: Just About Bas. My name is Sebastian “Bas” Barkley, or the Incredible Bas as I’m also known, and I can see you stumbled upon my diary, which you probably could guess since you saw the title was The Time Traveling Diaries of Sebastian Barkley, Volume One: The Duke’s Trumpet. Well, let me tell you, you’re not the only one who found my diary. Bookworm eighteen year old Mimi Mockel also found my diary in the New York City Public Library, and my life was never the same…

I can’t very well meet the great Kings of history and the kings of great music like Elvis and Duke Ellington if I have a couple of kids, Mimi and Albert Mockel hanging onto my cranberry coattails! But sadly, it’s not up to me anymore as she held my diary hostage. So now I have to run around with the arguing siblings to take back all these things I unintentionally stole throughout history. But since I’m a master of fun, I decide to have a good attitude about it and who knows, maybe Mimi was right in saying I’ll feel better after doing the right thing, just like I was right when I taught her there was more to life than reading a book.

I teach her this by taking her and her brother to the year 3,000 where they mastered alchemy to prove to her a boring brass trumpet can be turned into gold where I find out she has a crush on my alchemist friend Aimon Hamilton as me and Albert accidentally walk in on her kissing Aimon after we return from Marty’s Merry Morsels, woops! After we return the now golden trumpet to Bubber Miley of Duke Ellington and his Orchestra, she saves me from mortifying embarrassment by performing a lovely jazz number since I didn’t know any jazz songs from the 1920’s. The end of our tale is her comforting me over my tragic loss of the artifact saying that I really am the Incredible Bas and I can do anything, and whatever I can’t do on my own I will have the help of her and her brother as we return the artifacts to their rightful owners throughout history.

Mimi Mockel gave my diaries to a professional young woman from Chicago she trusts very much named Claire E. Smith who recorded our tale in The Time Traveling Diaries of Sebastian Barkley, Volume One: The Duke’s Trumpet. Claire has decided to break my diary up into separate volumes. The next volume will be about pirates! And the next volume is one of my favorite dairy entries as I’m reunited with my love, Sara Rogers.

While she has never been published, Claire has been writing for the last ten years as a hobby and has taken some creative writing courses at Southern Illinois University. Changing majors from English to Administrative Assistant which she is now to an industrial company to help pay the bills, she decided to take a brave jump to transform her hobby into a career as she too learned from me, Sebastian Barkley that life is all about having fun.

We hope you enjoy these diary entries as much as we have, and we hope to hear from you soon!

The Incredible Bas ”

Thanks my loves! Happy writing!!

Claire E. Smith

3 thoughts on “My Query Letter for the Duke’s Trumpet

  1. Hi Claire! Thanks for inviting me to take a look at your query. I can tell you’ve put a lot of time into it, and I love some of the descriptions that you’ve used (“cranberry coattails”) and the sense of humor and energy that comes through the query.

    I know that you mentioned to me that you’ve got a revised query that you’re working on, too, that’s *not* in character. Although I think this letter was really fun and quirky, knowing what I know about literary agents, I’d probably take the dry and boring approach for them. 🙂 I think you can still use a lot of your text in the query and the enthusiasm that comes through. They’ll be looking for things like this, though: ” ‘The Duke’s Trumpet’ is a 75,000 word fantasy written for a YA audience.”

    I probably wouldn’t include much backstory in the query–you might want to start out with the current action at the start of your novel. So more of a “When 18 year old bookworm Mimi Mockel discovered the diary of a time traveler while at the NYC Public Library…” –that sort of thing.

    I’m not the best critiquer or query-writer in the world, myself–but there are some great sites (agent and editor sites) that are great for giving query writing advice. Honestly, I think writing the queries is a lot tougher than the book!

    Thanks for sharing this with me–it sounds like a great story. Best wishes with your writing!


  2. I really like the gimmick of this query being written from the perspective of the character. It’s risky, seeing how you don’t if it will be perceived by agents as unprofessional, but sometimes risks pay off.

    The first sentence is confusing: “If you could travel through any-when in Earth’s history…”

    I know you are playing with words here, but because it’s the first thing you read (before you’ve established your voice), it’s likely to be perceived as a typo.

    Change it to: “If you could travel to any place and time in Earth’s history…” Or something like that.

    Also, I would trim it up. Less is more in a query. They’re reading tons of these things every day, and too much ink is a put off. If they want to see more they’ll ask.

    Good luck!


    • Wow! Thank you so much, that’s some fabulous advice!

      Good idea about changing first sentence, it was a play on word but you are right about being careful of first thing you read. I also read on Twitter that agents are tired of rhetorical questions all together for first sentence of query lettters, so might tweek the opening.

      Thanks again Chris, glad you like it 🙂


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