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Author Topic: Janet Reid's Query Roulette  (Read 8595 times)
ElanaJ
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« on: April 02, 2008, 11:32:29 PM »

I read a lot of agent blogs and I happened to read Janet Reid's early on Monday morning.  She was asking for query letters for something she calls Query Roulette that she's going to do at a WNBA Conference.  I sent her mine and, along with 24 others, she posted them on a private blog for us and, yeah, she basically trashed them.  Mine, at least.  The same one I posted here.

But, she gave suggestions for revisions and what she liked/didn't like, basic formatting rules, etc. and invited everyone to resubmit after revising if we wanted to.  Um, yeah, I think I'm gonna do that.

It was awesome just to see how she picked apart 25 queries!  And agent advice on my query?  Priceless.

Just thought I'd share.  Read your agent blogs!
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« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2008, 08:18:49 AM »

I can't see the results of the roulette on her blog site.  Am I missing something?

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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2008, 11:09:19 PM »

No, sorry I wasn't clear.  She called for them on her blog, and then took it down when she had enough.  She put them on a private blog for those of us who's she's commenting on.

I submitted a re-write today and she actually edited it for me.  Like using strikethrough on words and even more comments.  I was stunned.  All the work she must have to do, and she's editing 25 query letters for people she's never met and likely won't represent?  It's for a conference though, she's going to use the examples and rewrites for a class.  Some people have revised three times, and she's commented and posted all of them.  Too bad I don't write crime novels, she seems like a great agent.

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My trilogy is complete! POSSESSION, SURRENDER, ABANDON, and short stories REGRET and RESIST, are available now wherever books are sold.

My next novel, a YA contemporary novel, ELEVATED, is coming on February 18, 2014.

Visit my blog: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com
sarahjen
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« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2008, 11:43:36 PM »

Would you mind posting your query and her rewrites for us here? I think it would be valuable. Don't feel pressured.
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ElanaJ
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« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2008, 08:52:52 AM »

Yeah, I can do that.  Her comments are in blue.

Hello Ms. Reid,

Jonathan Clarke has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

This is a great first sentence.

His normally dull existence is turned upside down when he meets Annie, a wizard who has the power to transform him back into a human, something he desperately wants.


This isn't as good, but we get the idea of what's going on. Consider putting the subject at the start of the sentence: When Jared meets Annie, his normally dull existence is turned upside down. Annie has the power to turn him back into a human, something Jared desperately wants.

When a dormant evil surfaces, threatening the magic that sustains Jon's immortal life, it tips the balance, prohibiting the magical transformation. Annie meets another wizard, Jared, who steals her attention, but the three of them must learn to work together to balance the forces between good and evil. If they don't, Jon's biggest problem may not be losing the girl, but losing his entire existence.


"Dormant evil"? That's a cliche. You're also burying an important person-Jared. We don't find out he's really important until the next paragraph, but if he's the co-narrator, he should be the topic sentence. Consider: Jared steals Annie's attention but all three of them must learn to work together to overcome (what you're going to call something other than dormant evil)

I'd also like to see something other than "steals Annie's attention" too. I'm not exactly sure what that means.


Co-narrated by Jon and Jared, SHADOWS is a young adult novel complete at 95,000 words. Filled with romance, magic, and mystery, be prepared to think of ghosts in a completely new way.

I'm extremely extremely wary of two points of view in novels. I am wary because it's so hard to do really well. It can be done of course (my client Bill Cameron carries it off masterfully in lost dog---but Bill was smart and didn't tell me that in his query letter!)

The sentence "be prepared to think of ghosts in a completely new way" is great..but nothing in your query up till now has mentioned ghosts or what "new way" they are.


If you would like to consider SHADOWS, I'd be happy to forward the manuscript to you at your request.

Thank you,

Don't forget your contact info!

-----------------

Revision #2



Dear Ms. Reid,

Jonathan Clarke has everything a seventeen-year-old boy could want—except for a beating heart.

"Has everything a boy could want" and "endured" seem to describe two different states of being. One more sentence about why he wants to be human instead of a ghost will help here.

Jon has endured ninety years on Earth as a ghost, performing secret missions, advancing his magical skills, and staying close to the human side of things. When he meets Annie and discovers that she can touch him, his normally dull existence is turned upside down. Annie has the power to turn him (you've used turned twice in two sentences, and for different meanings-that would be something I'd change) back into a human, something Jon desperately wants.

His magical transformation is put on hold as when a centuries-old rebellion escalates and Jon's ghostly powers are needed to stop it. As h He's recruited by both sides; Annie wavers in her decision to help him, and his closest friends may be his biggest enemies. If Jon can't find a way to overcome the dissenters, he may never become human, because he won't exist at all.

Be prepared to think of ghosts in a completely new way in SHADOWS, a young adult urban fantasy novel, complete at 95,000 words.

If you would like to consider SHADOWS, I'd be happy to forward the manuscript to you at your request.

Thank you,


MUCH better! Another polish or two, just the kind of thing you'd do after you let it sit a week and go back to it with a fresh eye, and you've got a good letter. Good job!
Posted by Janet Reid at 5:34 PM
Labels: great revision example


There you go.  You can rip me apart too, if you want.

Smiley  Elana
« Last Edit: April 04, 2008, 08:54:25 AM by emjohns » Logged

My trilogy is complete! POSSESSION, SURRENDER, ABANDON, and short stories REGRET and RESIST, are available now wherever books are sold.

My next novel, a YA contemporary novel, ELEVATED, is coming on February 18, 2014.

Visit my blog: http://elanajohnson.blogspot.com
lizbrenaman
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« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2008, 10:44:39 AM »

OH KARMA KARMA KARMA FOR SHARING!!!
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« Reply #6 on: April 04, 2008, 12:55:33 PM »

Yes--Thanks for sharing Grin
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« Reply #7 on: April 04, 2008, 01:59:22 PM »

It's great to see an agents comments on a query. Thanks and Karma. Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: April 04, 2008, 02:07:04 PM »

Excellent points...it's great to see into the mind of an agent and what they look at and notice.  Thanks!
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Literature is alive...don't strangle it with superfluous verbiage!
sarahjen
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« Reply #9 on: April 04, 2008, 11:25:58 PM »

 clap
Thank you. Very helpful.
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« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2008, 11:56:26 PM »

Lucky!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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queryrighter4m
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 02:26:46 PM »

Thank you, Elana! Very helpful to QT-ers. I bet you made Janet happy, too! She got to see her help was really helpful--a great perk to a helper, as you must know since you, too, are a very helpful sort! Thumbs Up
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« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2009, 03:00:19 PM »

Awesome E!

Thanks for sharing...this is SO helpful!

 clap clap clap
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2009, 10:30:56 AM »

Elana,

Judging by what I've seen her do on Query Shark--I'd hardly call this "trashing" your query. Her comments are spot on, yes, but the tone is respectful (this is a woman who tells people TSTL--too stupid to live--!) And she says lots of positive things.

You've braved the Shark--and lived to tell about it!

rr

And were generous enough to share it.  Thumbs Up
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2009, 11:26:15 AM »

Your awesome for sharing this and Janet made some excellent points to really help your book stand out! I know I love reading her Shark blog because it helps to see what doesn't work, plus useful tidbits. Thanks so much for sharing!
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