Monthly Archives: August 2011
The following is a query critique. Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!
Dear Ms. Ruth,
His eyes are dark with black shadows, and his lips curl up at the edges. Maybe I’m being paranoid. I wasn’t alone, it’s Mardi Gras, and the streets are full of people. Daniel is close by, still giving interviews for his movie. Security is everywhere because of this party, so why is every hair on my body standing up?
He’s still coming towards me. His eyes now tearing into mine. I want to look away, act like it’s nothing, but I cannot. His steps increase as his expression darkens. I try to move but remain frozen. My breath speeds up and I will myself to not panic. I force myself to take a step, but it’s too late. I hear the sound, (what sound?) feel the pain, and fall to the ground.
People say when you’re dying your life flashes before your eyes. I see faces of my family and friends rapidly flashing across my mind. I think about Daniel and smile inside. He chose me out of countless girls to be his girlfriend. I hear faint screams around me. I feel remorse about everything I didn’t get to do in life. Faces kept flashing before me, but one was constant, Cary’s face. <—There is a tense conflict in the past two sentences. Flashes of Cary’s smile, the burning of his eyes and the blush in his checks when he looks at me. The thought of never seeing him again… I want to rip those evil eyes out of the socket of the man who did this to me… and I will.
[redacted] is a completed 70,000 word young adult romance involving angels and demons.
I would be honored to send the completed manuscript at your request. I have included a sample for your review. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
I would reject this. I have absolutely no idea what the premise of the story is, what the conflict is, or really anything about the characters because all I’ve been given is the writing sample the author said was included. The writing isn’t half bad, but writing style or voice can rarely move an agent or editor to request more material just on its own.
After reading this, the most solid thing I knew about this author and his/her book was that he/she hadn’t done enough research on how to query agents.
Note to the author: this isn’t a dead-end for you, though. Why don’t you write a standard query letter and resubmit it to the QueryDice. I’m sure we’d all like to know what brought your characters to the moment in which we’ve seen them here, and what they do after. Good luck.
The following is a query critique–our first non-fiction! Comments, suggestions and discussion are welcome and we hope you join in. I can only offer one opinion. The author of the query and I would love to hear yours!
Dear Ms. Ruth,
“Mom, how does this old Bible passage relate to me?”
I always say you should never begin your query with a question, but this works for me. Since you’re not asking me a question, I consider it a line from the manuscript, regardless of its punctuation. After reading this sentence, I knew what this was about and what its purpose was. Well done.
Christian parents, grandparents, and youth group leaders know the importance of the Bible, but many lack confidence to answer a question like this.
This is good. You’ve given me your book’s aim right from the get-go. Now, I know exactly what this is and to whom it might be beneficial and marketable.
[title redacted] meets this need by acting as a bridge to help children transition from reading story Bibles to understanding the whole Bible’s story and how it applies to them. [redacted] offers a user-friendly approach for young people ages 10-14 to discover for themselves the fascinating, big-picture message of the Bible as it covers every book of the Bible in bite-sized pieces.
I do not like specific, target age-groups mentioned in queries. Can you guarantee that this is inappropriate for a 9-year-old? A 15-year-old? If you cite an age group that’s too narrow, I’ll be thinking, “Is that market big enough?” If you cite an age-group that’s too broad, I immediately think you stretched it and it’s probably not appropriate for the low or high end. It’s better to express that this is appropriate for middle-grade readers.
That being said, this paragraph was otherwise excellent. You concisely outlined what the book’s purpose is, who it is for, and how it achieves its goal. Very nice.
Parents and pastors like how [redacted] promotes Biblical literacy, Christian worldview, and structure for daily Bible reading. Children like that it is easy to use and that it helps them find out for themselves how the Bible addresses real problems and questions they face.
How do you know? Have you shown the completed manuscript to parents, pastors and children? It is best to replace the word “like” with the words “will benefit from.”
[redacted] works as a stand-alone resource, family read-aloud, or supplement to other Bible study or worldview curricula.
This paragraph is also a home-run. I like knowing how the book can be read and utilized.
The average chapter is 450 words. Readers can start – or restart – at any point during the year or continue over two or more years.
This is confusing. Since I don’t see why readers couldn’t begin the book at any time during the year, your pointing this out makes me wonder what I’m missing.
My platform to write this book is based on both the experience of being a cross-cultural missionary with [redacted] for over twenty years, and the online presence I have developed since 2005 through my [redacted] website. Through the numerous Bible studies I have written, as well as my website, ebook, and coaching service, I support people as they navigate complex issues by helping them see the big picture, much as I do with [redacted]. I have also developed relationships with a number of notable pastors, ministry leaders, and churches across the United States who could help promote this book.
Well done with your platform paragraph. But your first words, “My platform to write the book is based on…” seems overly stiff. You can just launch right into your experience and we’ll gather that it serves as a platform. We’re expecting you to tell us this. Also, it is always great to know exactly how developed your web presence is. How many unique visits does your site get? Are you active on social media outlets?
Thank you for your interest in [redacted].
I haven’t shown interest yet, as far as you know.
I believe this is a resource that will bless and equip future leaders in God’s Kingdom and look forward to learning how you might be involved with this project.
Thank you and blessings upon you,
Great job with this one.
*waves* Big thanks to Lauren for letting me stop by today! I thought I would share a little about me before we get to chitchatting!
I’m Stacey Kennedy. I write urban fantasy/paranormal and erotic romance. I’m published with quite a few epublishers and have two new releases coming out this year with Ellora’s Cave and Loose Id.
I started writing as an escape from dirty diapers and screaming kids. As a stay at home mom—which all moms I’m sure will agree with me—it became a necessity to be creative and keep my brain active. What better way to do that then get lost in another world for a little while.
Originally, I had tried to go the agent route but rejection after rejection told me something was amiss. Clearly, right?! Now looking back, I can see I was in no way ready to submit to agents and had a lot to learn. Luckily, for me, an editor at an epublisher saw potential in my story and took me under her wing. From there, I wrote and wrote…and wrote some more. I submitted to different epublishers to work with new editors to learn as much as I could. I soaked up all the knowledge they had to offer and over the year I have been published, my writing improved and I owe all my editors a huge thank you for that.
After about eighteen ebook releases—some novellas—I had written an urban fantasy romance that I submitted to a few epublishers, only to get the “BIG R”. Bummer! Yes, I pouted, cursed and would not dare look at the story. I let it sit on my hard drive for a good four months until I got over the rejections, and then decided I needed to do something with it.
That story introduced me to self-publishing. I did a lot of research, talked to other self-published authors, made connections to find an editor, cover artist, etc. Then I went for it and uploaded my book to online stores. To my utter shock, the story went straight to Amazon Kindle’s bestseller list and stayed there. By far this is my bestselling book so this tells you that just because your story is rejected doesn’t mean there is no potential there.
Lastly, just this past week I signed with the lovely agent, Lauren Ruth to start another journey in my writing career. To say that I’m excited would be a huge understatement. I’m thrilled and eager for see what the future holds for team, “Lauren and Stacey”!
So where am I going with this all?
Whatever choice you want to make for your career is your choice. No matter what you’ve heard—and we’ve all heard many opinions—there is no “right” path to take in publishing. I have done nearly all of them, epublished, self-published and now I have an agent. All three I have loved for different reasons and plan to continue using these methods of publishing.
If you want to have an agent represent you, go for it. You want to self-publish, go for it! You want to epublish, go for it! If one doesn’t work out for you, write another story and try something else. That’s what is so fantastic about the publishing world, we as authors have so many options.
Personally, I think as long as you are doing what you love and capture that in a story then readers will take notice. At the end of the day it’s not really about how you get your books into the hands of readers, it’s only that they read the story you’ve slaved over and is your baby.
I’d love to hear from you all, what method of publishing have you used or what’s your “dream” publisher?