QueryDice #14

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,

I would be delighted to submit for your consideration, Sidewalk Flower, my dark, romantic women’s fiction novel which is complete at just under 104,000 words.

In Sidewalk Flower, a musician’s assistant determined to leave the seedy grit of Rock Star, California for the downhome love of her southern boyfriend must endure one last cruel night in her old world first.

Ironically, the above sentence, which serves as both the introduction to and summary of your book, is too long but doesn’t tell us enough. Unfortunately, the result of this is a shrug from me. I’m thinking, “So? And?”

My gut tells me there’s something interesting here. The title is intriguing, as is the main character’s vocation. You’ve got 104,000 words that you’ve attempted to sum up in less than 40. I’d like your query to be roughly 250 words, give or take.

I think I can speak for my readers, too, when I say I’d like to see a do-over!

While as yet unpublished, I am a member of RWA, my local WRW chapter, and the women fiction writers group, Waterworld Mermaids.

I greatly appreciate your time and consideration and hope to hear from you if my work seems a good fit.



Posted on October 13, 2011, in Advice, book, literary agency, manuscripts, publishing, queries, Query Dice, rejection, slush pile, submissions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Lauren, I think you responded exactly how you should have on this one because this person obviously needs some help with her query. 104K is a LOT of words, and if they’re as vague as the query, it could be a tough read. I’m with everyone else who commented in that some details like names and some plotline would help. Do you think maybe this person is afraid to let too much of her idea out to the public? Just wondering.

  2. As everyone already posted, this query is too short to describe a novel of 100K+ words. It’s more like a query for a short fiction. But, I like the setting of working for a musician and I’m curious to find out what is happening in the last night to make it so cruel.

  3. Definitely a pitch not a query. We don’t have any idea of the conflict or what is at stake here. What makes her job cruel? How could one more night be horrible, she’s been doing it for awhile now hasn’t she? What’s at stake if she doesn’t? Can’t she just leave? There’s no reason to care what happens to her. Lots of people hate their jobs/towns/lives and want to move one. What makes her special?

  4. I like the stones you have presenting your book in a single sentence. While it’s good you could still create a concise query by giving just a little more info with the addition of several more sentences. Still though I think it’s a pretty boss move.

  5. I love the idea of a dark romance, so please tell me what the book is about.

  6. I’m not even sure it’s a compelling elevator pitch, to be honest!

    The only thing that makes it a bit more enticing than “Burt must endure one more day at his soul-sucking job before he can enjoy retirement” is the choice of vocation (musician’s assistant), which sounds like it would be exciting. Why would the protagonist (whoever she is) want to leave? Some people like “seedy grit”–are we to presume she doesn’t? In what way is this world of hers “cruel”? Some people can thrive in that environment (evidently). As Lauren says, there’s an idea here–but nothing to make me see character and conflict. Yes–do over! 🙂

  7. To me this reads more like an elevator pitch than a query.

    As a start, I’d like to see names (not a lot, but a couple) to connect with the characters. I can’t connect to a job description. And then I want conflict. 104,000 words for what sounds like one night means there has to be a lot going on. I’d want to know in general terms what that is. Finally, some idea of what complication gets in the way of her reaching her goal of moving back home.

    A do-over sounds like a good idea on this one.

  1. Pingback: QueryDice #14.1: Do-Over! « SlushPileTales

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