Dear Mr. Tolkien,Read the whole thing. Although I advocate authors writing stories that people actually read (hence the fact that this is a genre blog), I admire Cooper's hammering at the publishing industry's profit-driven shibboleths. For example, take the fictional agent's assertion that opening "with Bilbo in the grip of the Trolls" will "grab your young reader's attention" much more effectively than "back-story concerning 'hobbits' and their unusual living arrangements." But the sieze-them-by-their-nostrils-in-the-first-three-sentences opening has become so common that it's almost cliché. While lecturing at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, James Maxey noted, "So many books on writing are going to tell you that you want to start with the action, you want to start in the middle of something exciting. You need to have your spaceship crashing on the first page. I think that has led to more bad story starts than any other advice." His formula for a strong intro? Upfront information and lots of it, something Tolkien always provided in spades.
Thank you for submitting a query for your children's novel, "The Hobbit". I regret to inform you that while the proposal shows merit, this agency may not be the best fit for your work.
If I might venture some feedback, your query letter needs to be improved if future submissions are to be met with success. Although well written, with some of the strongest grammar this agency has ever seen, your outline of the dilemma facing the main protagonist failed to engage me on an emotional level. You also spent far too much time talking about your professorship and expertise in Norse mythology and foreign languages. What has that got to do with anything? Tell me about your book!
(Picture: CC 2007 by Blake Lawrence)