Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Query Letter Critique


Drowning...in...query...letters...can't...come up...for air...

Seriously though, I'm thrilled/amazed/humbled that so many people would be interested in my thoughts on their query letters! Keep 'em coming!

Original Query Letter

Dear [Agent]:
         Emma Harris is tired of being haunted, but the ghost-girl following her is just getting started. She hurls Emma and a not-so-innocent bystander back to 19th Century America where the stalker spirit is a flesh and blood girl: Lucinda Sutton. The same Lucinda Sutton who disappeared on her wedding night, according to town legend.
Of all the people to be stuck with in the past, “innocent bystander” Daniel Wyatt was not high on Emma’s list. She wants to stay away from him, aware of his dodgy reputation and temper, but stranded in a foreign world of petticoats and pantalettes, he’s the only anchor to her time, a place she’d do anything to get back to.
After doing some digging into Lucinda’s life, Emma and Daniel believe the only way home is to help Lucinda and her lover marry. But there’s a catch: Lucinda is engaged to another man. The very man who may have made her “disappear.”
         Complete at 69,000 words, BOUND is a young-adult novel with a delicious paranormal twist.

Sincerely,
(Name redacted)

Query Letter After I Got My Grubby Paws On It

Dear [Agent]:
         Emma Harris is tired of being haunted, but the ghost-girl following her is just getting started. She hurls Emma and a not-so-innocent bystander back to 19th Century America where the stalker spirit is a flesh and blood girl: Lucinda Sutton. The same Lucinda Sutton who disappeared on her wedding night, according to town legend. This is a great start! I confess to not seeing a clear link between being haunted by a ghost and being hurled back to 19th Century America, as I picture ghosts popping out and yelling boo more than time-hurling people, but I’m intrigued nonetheless!
Of all the people to be stuck with in the past, “innocent bystander” Daniel Wyatt was not high on Emma’s list. She wants to stay away from him<Bit of weak wording here. Is there a stronger way you can get this thought across? aware of his dodgy reputation and temper, but stranded in a foreign world of petticoats and pantalettes, he’s the only anchor to her time, a place she’d do anything to get back to. Me likey!
After doing some digging into Lucinda’s life, Emma and Daniel believe the only way home is to help Lucinda and her lover marry. There isn’t anything technically wrong with this sentence, but it feels like it doesn’t quite pack as much punch as it could/should. Something is missing. Suggestion: “After doing some digging into Lucinda’s life, Emma and Daniel uncover (adjective) information that leads to them believe the key to finding their way home lies in helping Lucinda and her lover marry.’ Feel free to hate it J ‘But there’s a catch: Lucinda is engaged to another man. The very man who may have made her “disappear.” <This is great! I LOVE the plot. My only comment here would be that the stakes are not clearly laid out. What happens if Emma and Daniel fail? What’s at risk for them? It may seem obvious (that they’ll be stuck in 19th Century America forever), but I think you’re better off not making the reader guess and just putting it their faces.  
         Complete at 69,000 words, BOUND is a young-adult novel with a delicious Others may disagree with me, but I suggest resist the urge to describe your own book with any sort of adjective. Just seems sort of amateurish to me paranormal twist.
Sincerely,
(Name redacted)

This is a great query, and it doesn't need a whole lot to bring it from great to outstanding. So good luck with this author, and thanks for letting me have a peek at it. I hope to hear good news from you soon J

It should also be noted that I’m continually impressed by what lands in my inbox from followers of my blog. What talented authors are out there! 




12 comments:

  1. Great critique, Michelle.

    I agree this query letter doesn't need much. The writing is great and the premise is outstanding. Great job and good luck, author!

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  2. Nice critique, Michelle. I think it's a strong query overall, and I particularly like the start. This sounds like a cool and unique book. I agree to take out the word delicious from the book description at the end.

    Good luck with querying!

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  3. Nice query! I agree with Michelle's suggestions, particularly with the use of the word "delicious". This book sounds fun, and I bet the author will get many requests with this query.

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    1. It does sound fun, doesn't it?

      And thanks, Julia!

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  4. I love when you do your critiques, Michelle! And this one's a great query, I agree. Can't wait to see this on the shelves

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  5. I bow to your query crit awesomeness. I LOATHE queries and always feel like I don't have any good advice to give anyone on them!

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  6. Haha! Thanks, Amy! Though I'm sure you'd give great advice :)

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  7. Thanks so much Michelle and everyone else! Consider "delicious" deleted. I knew that word shouldn't be in there...

    I'll get to work on this right away! :D

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