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Query Review / Re: Suspense Query
« Last post by Sandbox on Today at 08:39:44 AM »
KM--this really sounds interesting, but I feel you are explaining what happens instead of writing a query letter that will hook an agent. That--and I don't understand how the two storylines are related. The tendency (at least for me) when I write a query is to hold back information to create a mysterious feel. But too much of that leads to confusion. Sometimes, I will write out what happens completely--and then keep scaling it back to make it into query form. This is what needs to be in a query:

Get right to the main character—by name.
Tell who he/she is, and do it in as few words as possible.
Tell what happens to him or her—the initial point of conflict in the book.
Show two choices the main character faces as well as the consequences of those choices. The stakes must be high.

.. Sometimes I'll try to plug it into a formula as a way to start. Blank is a blank who blanks--but when blank happens, Blank is forced to blank resulting in blank (consequences)

Hope this helps. Queries are so hard. SB
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Query Review / Re: Suspense Query
« Last post by KM on Today at 07:47:48 AM »
Thanks for your feedback Sara. Office Lady and Teeny are nicknames from the book. I like your suggestion about linking the paragraphs. Thank you.

Updated version:
Ten years ago, Ashlyn (16), an elite ski racer, crashes in a race, losing her spot on the podium and her coach/mother’s attention to a rival racer. When their relationship spirals and she finds leftover painkillers, Ashlyn must decide whether self-medicating is going to help her face her new life. Meanwhile, Saria (16) is avoiding her landlord and juggling too many responsibilities. When her mother dies in an overdose and they lose their apartment, she’s left with a handful of pills she can either sell or swallow.

In the present, one of the girls, known only as Office Lady, is a marketing executive striving for financial freedom. The other, Teeny, is a scrappy free spirit living under a bench who will refuse a handout, then steal your wallet. When they meet, Office Lady sees how her life could’ve turned out, and the two women become unlikely friends. But when Teeny is murdered, a secret will names Office Lady as a beneficiary and reveals their identities. Office Lady must face the drug culture she escaped to find out what happened to Teeny before she’s charged with murder or becomes the next victim.
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Query Help / Re: Not My Story to tell?
« Last post by Lanita on Yesterday at 04:54:03 PM »
Hi guys! It's been a while, I've got a Query question:

My story is about a gay, Israeli Jew. I am gay, but not Jewish or from Israel. I’m fascinated by the history and conflict in the Middle East as well as the Jewish cultural view of homosexuality which mirrored my own Christian experience. I’ve had a couple people (with publishing experience) tell me this is “not my story to tell” and the agents/editors won’t consider this because I’m not Jewish or Israeli. Should I scrap this project? Or change all the names and cultural specific details to make it a fictional fantasy setting? I feel it would lose the heart of the story in that case. What should I do??

QUERY:

Dear agent,

Seventeen-year-old Ofrey has a secret. And his rabbi father is catching on.

To avoid being ripped from the closet, Ofrey needs to join the Israeli navy. The problem? He’s scared of guns and loud noises. And angry people. And water.

To help Ofrey conquer his fear, a witch infects him with an adrenaline-eating parasite. It doesn't make him brave, but hardens his skin and muscles in proportion to his fear. Fine print: Ofrey's gotta stay scared or the creature will feed on his organs.

Turns out witches can’t be trusted after all. The woman agrees to remove the parasite but only if Ofrey accuses his father of unspeakable crimes, marries her daughter, and joins their demonic cult. Ofrey chickens out.

Yet as his body deteriorates he must find new and unusual ways to terrify himself. He can join the navy and hope it’s scary enough to make him bulletproof—a short term fix. Or trade his yamaka for goat horns and destroy his family.

His Palestinian boyfriend tells him to sell his soul and act straight. (And survive.) But maybe there’s a third option. If Ofrey can grow strong enough to dramatically stand against violence and discrimination it would be worth a martyr’s death. But he’ll have to reach a level of terror he’s never imagined.

Luckily he’s surround by people willing to torture the gay out of him.

FEAROICS is a 110K word YA fantasy that explores racism and homophobia. Growing up, I felt torn between religion and sexual orientation. I hope this lends authenticity to Ofrey’s journey. An English professor in Israel has read and evaluated my manuscript for accuracy and cultural sensitivity.

Thank you for your time and consideration,

Ryan Hancock (should I go by RC to be more ambiguous?) :)

This is a valid concern and one more people should consider. But if you've done your research (it sounds like you have) and if you've had sensitivity readers, you are doing all the right things. Is the English professor Israeli and Jewish? If not, you can find additional sensitivity readers. Just make sure to pay them for their time.

I don't think you should scrap the MS. It sounds like a really interesting story. I hope it all works out for you, and you find the right agent. :)

(I did see a few minor query issues (writing/structure), so you might consider another revision pass before sending it out.)
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Query Help / Re: Sample Chapter
« Last post by Lanita on Yesterday at 04:38:25 PM »
Agreed. Always send the first chapter (or first pages if that's what they request), because the first chapter is the only one that matters at this stage. These are the pages your reader will read first, and just like reader, the agent has to be interested from the very beginning.

I once heard someone say they wanted to submit their third chapter because the first two chapters were kind of boring. My reaction was they need to cut the first two chapters. They're probably starting the story in the wrong place. It doesn't matter how interesting a book is if the reader doesn't get through the first paragraph/page/chapter.
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Query Help / Re: Attachment or in the main body of the email?
« Last post by Lanita on Yesterday at 04:28:09 PM »
I would never send an attachment unless asked by the agent. Chances are you'll get a form rejection and your pages will never be read. Attachments are too risky.

When you copy and paste your chapters into an email, just choose keep source formatting and the formatting won't be off.
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Hi, this isn't a genre I usually read, but I noticed a few general dev edit issues that would be true regardless of genre.


I don't know who the main character is. It doesn't seem to follow anyone in particular. I can only assume the twins are the MCs because you open with them.

There are too many names that start with H. Too easy to mix up the characters.

Do you mean the mother is literally abandoning the children and not coming back? If she knows her mother-in-law is unstable, why take the kids there? Sounds like she really doesn't like her own children (on top of having her own issues that lead her to abandon them). **Later you explain the mother is controlled by a demon, so you could move that info to the beginning when you say she abandons them. This would make the reason clear.

How do the twins realize the family stories are true on the first night if the father couldn't figure it out after years of living there? If the father was born into the family he must have known more than just stories if he grew up in that house.

Also, a synopsis should tell the whole story, including spoilers and the ending. It should not end on a cliff hanger. Agents request a synopsis to see how well you know how to plot.

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Query Review / Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Last post by MichelleG on Yesterday at 02:59:40 PM »
Okay then - I got that allllll wrong.  This makes a lot more sense.  Could you add something about escaping, but leaving her daughters behind.

“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.”  really liked that.

This version is so much better.
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Query Review / Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Last post by Lanita on Yesterday at 02:50:56 PM »
Dear [agent]:

“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.” Italics would work better than a quote. That's what Willow must teach her daughters in order to protect them from the insidious, shadowy, fear-eating soldiers before that dark army comes to take her back.

Complete at 88,000 words, OUT OF THE DARK is a blend of women’s fiction, horror and contemporary fantasy (Just choose one. This sounds like fantasy to me.). This novel checks a few boxes on your MSWL: speculative horror, complex characters, imaginative settings, and a touch of magic. (This paragraph needs to be moved down. Add it just before your bio)

For eighty years, the Fae Realm has been dark and magicless (Why?), victim to a curse and Cursed by ____ and victimized (probably a better word than victimized) by the depraved Grim Army, Willow is a fae prisoner. (This could be confusing. Is she is fae who is being held prisoner or she is human and held prisoner by the fae? Also, why is she being held? What does the army want?) When Willow finally escapes, she and finds refuge with a (human?) father and his young daughter in the rural Texas hill country. Willow grows to love and trust the pair as they help her to heal.  and eventually deciding She stays with them and forges a new family. to stay with them, to forge a new family.

Willow can’t outrun her homeland’s curse forever, though. (We still don't know what the curse is. You can describe it briefly.) The Grim General hunts her down (Why? Is this part connected to the curse?) and drags her away from her new family, back to the dark prison, the constant terror, and the fear-eating monsters (Weren't they soldiers above? For clarity, you shouldn't call something by two different names in a query.) Hope comes in the form of Willow’s daughters (when did Willow have daughters? They should be mentioned above because fleeing without them seems important to mention): one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. (Just like in a synopsis, queries don't contain subplots. Focus on the MC.) and They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, Willow’s long-time allies. In a race against the Grim Army, this family (which one? The fae or the human family? Or both?) will have to fight fear (is this a play on the fear-eating? And do you mean they have to fight their own fear or the fear of others?) with fire if they’re to break the curse and stitch their family back together.

This novel should appeal to fans of Holly Black, THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY, and THE BOOK EATERS.

I am a married mother of two, and a lab supervisor at a cancer clinic, and a new author. (Does this mean you have a published book you should mention? If not, I'd leave it out)

Thank you for all you do, (This isn't a professional sign-off.)
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Sounds like it could be an interesting story, but I'm not sure what the story is and don't feel invested in the characters. Also, this feels more like a plot driven story, so it doesn't read like women's fiction, which is always about an emotional journey (it should have been named emotional fiction or relationship fiction). I know query letters are hard to write, but you might want to go back over your MS and do another editing pass to make sure there isn't this sort of confusion in your story.
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Literary Agents / Re: How poor are new agents?
« Last post by Tabris on Yesterday at 09:48:20 AM »
I believe at some agencies, the agent receives what's called "a draw" which is a payment against future commissions. (The agenting version of an advance, in other words. Once they get their first advance payment, the draw amount gets deducted from that, and they get the rest.) It's probably not much of a salary, and from what I hear, it's not at all unusual for new agents to have at least one other income stream at the start.
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Query Review / Re: Adult Fantasy query review
« Last post by Sjgallion on Yesterday at 07:19:01 AM »
Lol yeah MichelleG, it was clear to me that the query must not have been clear enough because you didn't get much of it right. That was helpful, though. If it's not clear to you, then it's not going to be clear to an agent who only gives it about 8 seconds. I've posted a rework of it, but here it is.

Dear [agent]:


“Keep a light on and never stop fighting.” That's what Willow must teach her daughters in order to protect them from the insidious, shadowy, fear-eating soldiers before that dark army comes to take her back.

Complete at 88,000 words, OUT OF THE DARK is a blend of women’s fiction, horror and contemporary fantasy. This novel checks a few boxes on your MSWL: speculative horror, complex characters, imaginative settings, and a touch of magic.

For eighty years, the Fae Realm has been dark and magicless, victim to a curse and the depraved Grim Army. Willow, a fae prisoner, finally escapes and finds refuge with a father and his young daughter in the rural Texas hill country. Willow grows to love and trust the pair as they help her to heal, eventually deciding to stay with them, to forge a new family.

Willow can’t outrun her homeland’s curse forever, though. The Grim General hunts her down and drags her away from her new family, back to the dark prison, the constant terror, the fear-eating monsters. Hope comes in the form of Willow’s daughters: one struggling to cope with crushing distrust and the other victim to an inherited and destructive power she struggles to control. They are joined by two cocky fae shifters, Willow’s long-time allies. In a race against the Grim Army, this family will have to fight fear with fire if they’re to break the curse and stitch their family back together.

This novel should appeal to fans of Holly Black, THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY, and THE BOOK EATERS.

I am a married mother of two, a lab supervisor at a cancer clinic, and a new author.

Thank you for all you do,
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