QueryDice #33

Dear Lovely and Talented Agent, While I appreciate the compliment, you still have not used my name, and that would have been a bigger compliment.

I am looking for representation for my novel [redacted]. I know. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be reading your query. You’ve wasted valuable real estate telling me this.

Professionally, Abigail Kelly is a rockstar. But personally, she’s at the bottom of the charts. This should be one sentence with the independent ideas separated by a comma. Aside from that nitpick, though, this is a good start.

More than anything, Abby wants balance, but her life is seriously out of whack. After her brother is tragically killed, Abby dives into her singing career, allowing the bright lights of Hollywood to block out her grief. When the band takes the summer off, Abby banishes herself to the secluded beaches of Florida—finally slowing down enough to deal with her demons. When she meets ex-Marine Todd, she begins to feel the balance she’s been desperate for.

Just as Abby is beginning to unclench, Max, her sadistic manager—who makes Simon Cowell look like an angel—demands that she gets her tail back to LA. Under the pressure of the hot spotlight again, Abby’s grip on her new-found balance begins to shake. Torn between her love for Todd, and her loyalty to the guys in the band, she must find a way to confront her past, and take control her present, or risk losing everything.

[redacted] is a work of women’s fiction and is complete at 97,000 words.

Thank you for your time.

Notwithstanding my comments above, the structure of this query is technically fine. You’ve told me who your main character is, what she wants, what’s in her way and the challenges she faces in wrestling the in-the-way. I completely understand what you’ve written, who its audience is and whether or not I would want to read this. 

The trouble is, I don’t think it is compelling enough. My critical mind asks, “Okay, so she has to make a choice between a boyfriend and her band and she must confront some demons. And?” Things like this happen to everybody. We’ve all had to make a choice and we all have demons. What makes Abby’s experience so different from our own that we would want to spend 97,000 words with her? Also, I worry that there are potential plot holes, here. Abby is a rockstar, which means she must have lots of money, fans and power. Why can’t she find a way to fix her problem?

This story needs external conflict–something big that affects (or has the potential to affect) not only Abby, but other people too. For me, women’s fiction can’t just be about an issue that often affects women. It also needs to be a little controversial and unique so that I’m forced to stop in my tracks and wonder what I might have done in the protagonist’s shoes. Women’s fiction very often aims to warm the hearts of women, and I didn’t find this as heartwarming as I would have liked.

Sincerely,etc (I wonder if you put this “etc” in to be cute, or if somehow the monster named Technology added it for you. If the former, best to stick with the tried-and-true.)



Posted on May 31, 2012, in Advice, queries, Query Dice, rejection, slush pile, submissions, writers and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I also really want to know more about Todd. Is there a way you can quickly give us some insight into their relationship? I know queries have to be short, but I think that would flesh things out a lot.

    I’m also having trouble seeing Abby’s conflict. It seems like she hates everything about being a rockstar, and her only concern is making sure she doesn’t leave the band hanging… but what if she loved being on stage? Without that, it seems like she’s torn between joy and obligation. I’d rather see her torn between joy and joy/obligation.

  2. This is a cute query but the story – well, what’s up with Todd? I also agree with ella and the logistics of a rock band taking the summer off…

    Abby has grief, from a horrific incident, and a barbarian manager. This makes me feel she’s a TSTL whiny type with talent and not my favorite heroine. But I could forgive her for that if she brings some benefit to a hero I’ve fallen in love with through the story.

    Todd would be the potential interest for me in this story but in this query, he’s just a name with a former agenda. Who is he NOW? If there’s a connection between him, the manager or the death of Abby’s brother, it would still only be a “maybe” for me.

  3. Yeah, the query seems fine. But reading this as a writer, I see some logic problems with the story. I’m thinking “Rock bands take the summer off? Isn’t summer a very busy time for concerts and whatnot? Fairs, music festivals, etc?”

    It would greatly increase the story’s tension if Abby went to Florida because she couldn’t hack it any more after her brother’s death, rather than because of planned time off. Then her career’s at stake, her colleagues’ careers are at stake: stakes, of a sort.

    I’m also not sure what choice Abby faces. Is it to give up touring and hook up with Todd? If so, you need to make that clear, and also explain why it’s an either/or situation.

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