Monday, November 30, 2009

Free Query Crits!

Have I mentioned I love query letters?

Go ahead and post your query in the comments section, and next post I'll dissect all the ones I got and explain what I think works and what doesn't!

I'll cap the comments if I get an unprecedented amount, but until then, spread the word and keep them coming.

Two DISCLAIMERS:
--Your critique (and query) WILL be published for all the world to see. I will not be cruel, but I may be a little candid. Be prepared.
--You may ask--Why should I take your advice? Uh, GOOD QUESTION. There is no real reason to take anything I say about query letters seriously. I am not an agent, I am not an editor, I am a barely-legal writer who likes her some letters. (That said, my queries did get ridiculously good request rates.)

Go go go!

EDIT: I'm going to aim to post the crits THIS THURSDAY, so make sure you submit before then!

EDIT AGAIN: It probably won't be 'til Friday, guys. Thanks for the subs, keep 'em coming!

12 comments:

Heather Zenzen said...

Here ya go, Hannah!

Dear XYZ:

In a world with two socially divided classes, made up of genetically-enhanced "gens" and the now substandard bio-originals, or "subs", the classes clash.

Ruby is a circus star ordered to train on the flying trapeze. She’s appalled to find her partner-to-be, Jobe, is a sub. Everyone knows that subs are incompetent; putting your life in one of their hands means certain death.

Jonah is a sub with a whole different set of problems. He travels to the circus hoping to find solutions. Instead, he finds complications; he finds Ruby. He's drawn to Ruby the first moment he sees her, undeniably attracted to someone who undeniably hates him, and all like him.

CONTORTED is a love story set in a futuristic world where a new kind of class division makes that love forbidden. Written in alternating points of view, the complexity of discrimination is presented by characters on opposite sides of the issue. CONTORTED is complete at 75,000 words.

I chose to submit this novel for your consideration because XYZ.

I have pasted the first pages of my manuscript below per your submission guidelines. I am prepared to send the full manuscript or synopsis if desired. I would like to note that this is a simultaneous submission.

I am a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators as well as an active member of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis, MN. At the Loft, I have taken classes from such people as Andrew Karre of Carolrhoda and Brian Farrey of Flux. I attended the Big Sur Children’s Writing Workshop in December 2008, the Loft’s Festival of Children’s and Young Adult Literature in April 2009, and the SCBWI Conference in LA in August 2009.

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

ZYX

Karla said...

Dear Agent:

What happens when four teens become entangled in a love square?

Kyle is afraid of love. He does not want anything to do with girls. However, when Rosabelle, the girl he liked growing up, and he become friends again after the end of their friendship in seventh grade, he finds he is starting to fall for her all over again.

Rosabelle has a boyfriend, Chase. They have been dating for one year. Now that Kyle and her are friends again, she realizes the feelings she had for him throughout her life had never left her all this time.

Chase is madly in love with Rosabelle. He never wants to lose her, so he warns and fights other boys he sees as competition, but he keeps this a secret from Rosabelle. When he sees that Rosabelle is friends with Kyle, he struggles with himself not to fight him.

Jeanette is Rosabelle’s best friend. Her own secret is her love for Chase. She is jealous of her best friend that has a perfect life, a perfect GPA, and the perfect boyfriend. She wants to be something more than the most popular girl’s best friend.

As junior year progresses, conflicts threaten to break apart old friendships and relationships. It's their choice to break free from old bonds or to stay in their current situations. But both sides of the decision have their positives and negatives. And if they're not careful, all four of them could walk out of this brokenhearted.

I am seeking representation for my multiple-perspective young adult romance novel, LOVE SQUARE, complete at 75000 words. I have a synopsis and the full manuscript available upon request.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Karla

jessieharrell said...

Dear Agent:

Princess Sadie might have a face that can enchant a crowd, but a goddess wants her head.

When Sadie receives a prophecy that she must marry a creature even the gods fear, she’s sure that Venus is finally taking her revenge. Sadie has no idea that her intended groom is really Venus’s handsome son, Cupid, who intends to wed Sadie without Venus finding out. Following a wedding procession more appropriate for a funeral, Sadie is left on a hilltop, swept away by the West Wind, greeted by invisible servants, and ends up married to a man whose only visible feature is his enchanting blue eyes. Then, as if overnight, Sadie finds her fear washed away by the unexpected kindness of her new husband.

As she spends her evenings recounting every detail of her life to the most doting man she’s ever met, Sadie succumbs to the contented bliss of love. That is, until her jealous sisters convince Sadie she’s been tricked by the monster foretold in the prophecy and killing him is her only escape.

When Sadie nearly kills her beloved and, in doing so, learns his true identity, she realizes too late all she has thrown away. Cupid flees, forcing Sadie to journey alone through Greece and come face-to-face with Venus if she wants to reclaim his immortal love. On her road to redemption, Sadie finds the strength to take on the gods and challenges the ancient adage: you cannot escape what is destined.

Complete at 94,000 words, “Destined” is a YA historical romance novel and a modernized retelling of Greece’s most captivating love story, that of Cupid and Psyche. I am a member of SCBWI and was a classical studies major in college.

As per your submission guidelines, I am enclosing the first ten pages of the novel with this e-mail. Thank you in advance for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully working with you.

Sincerely,
JLH

Thanks for offering to do a free query review. I keep tweaking it and now I'm not sure if it makes sense anymore.

Weronika Janczuk said...

I am so excited! :-)

Dear [Agent Name],

The year is 1985, and seventeen-year old artistic genius Anna Sokolowska struggles to balance a growing artistic obsession with what is a consistently violent father-daughter relationship.

Her father’s unexpected disappearance and a chance opportunity to attend a prestigious art conference force Anna to make a decision: Her obligation lies in providing for her mentally fragile mama, but her desire is to take a chance and risk joining the ranks of the famous, freeing herself in the process. Her decision will determine not only her future, but that of her mother and brother, as well as the boy that might just be her savior.

WHERE THE DOVES FLY is a 76,000-word literary YA, marked by the culturally unique 1980s Poland. I'm querying you because [of XYZ].

I’ve been published in New Moon, Teen Ink, Alive, and multiple Creative Communications anthologies, and I currently write for Pol-Am, Minnesota’s Polish-American newsletter. I also serve on a sub-council of Minneapolis' Loft Literary Center and have interned with acquisitions editor Brian Farrey of Flux.

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
WJ

Sandy Shin said...

My manuscript is not yet ready to be sent out, but I have been tinkering with this query for when the manuscript is ready. Would it be all right if I ask you to critique it?

Dear Agent:

THE BEAST'S APPRENTICE is a YA steampunk re-telling of "Beauty and the Beast," complete at 95,000 words.

Growing up, Faye had no interest in her mother's bedtime fairy tales, as all her time were spent trying to keep herself and her ailing mother alive on the cold and ruthless streets of London. She never imagined that one day, she would have to seek help from the Beast, a vain and prickly creature who cares only for himself. If given the choice, she would rather die of starvation and frostbite than to do menial work as an apprentice in his rundown and dangerous mansion.

However, the Beast needs to have his curse broken before the winter passes, and Faye needs his magical expertise to stage a revenge on her father, the cause of her mother's death. Their bargain: Faye will find him his true love and he will teach her enough magic to topple her father's prosperous magical artifacts and potions business. It is the perfect arrangement.

The arrangement slowly crumbles, however, as Faye finds herself drawn toward the Beast and entertaining the thoughts of being the curse-breaker herself. Except she has already kissed him. And failed.

The synopsis and the full manuscript are available upon request. Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you!

Sincerely,
Sandy

Thank you so much for offering to do free query reviews! :)

Robert Young said...

Dear [Agent],

Ricky Marquard and his girlfriend, Sofia Bowen, are gifted, to say the least. He can control the earth’s elements while she’s got full control of people’s minds. Quite the dream team, right?

You’d think so, but then some guy tries to kill Ricky’s mom at a football game, so Ricky has to fry him to death in front of 90,000 people watching on the Jumbotron. Nobody hurts Mama Marquard and gets away with it. No one suspects a thing—who’d believe he murdered someone with lightning?—but he decides to lay low for a while.

That is, until Weather and Isochronal Natural Disasters International, or W.I.N.D.I., shows up. W.I.N.D.I.’s members dictate the world’s weather patterns and natural disasters, and boy, are they thrilled to have finally found the hilarious wisecracker who decided it would be nice for Orlando to have its first white Christmas last year. Better still, they don’t even care about the dead guy.

Ricky is shocked there are others like him in the world (Sofia’s a tad peeved there aren’t more like her), but his excitement quickly downgrades to alarm as he discovers W.I.N.D.I. is as crooked as a tree in hurricane-force winds. Political gain and big money are the bottom line for the organization with six billion lives in its hands, and when W.I.N.D.I. spies its newest member’s quavering loyalty, it charges him with a rather difficult task.

Whip up a natural disaster to destroy tens of thousands of lives, or lose his own.

W.I.N.D.I. is a young adult novel complete at 66,000 words.

Thank you for your time and consideration,
RYI

Thanks for doing this!

inkspatters said...

Oh wow, this is pretty awesome. Thanks for doing this :D
Dear Agent,

It’s not like sixteen-year-old Skylar Jones’ druggie mother ever came round for a cup of tea when she got out of jail. Maureen never wrote, emailed, facebooked or phoned. So when mommy dearest roars into town on the back of some guy’s Harley and demands to see her, Skylar has no idea what to do.

She wants to forgive and forget, but the puckered scars on her stomach from when Maureen burned the house down make her hesitate. “Sorry” just doesn’t cut it when you nearly kill someone, especially when it comes ten years too late. Prompted by her aunt, Sally, Skylar reflects on the six years she spent with Maureen, looking for a grain of truth. Her mother’s motto “Heaven on Earth” permeates her childhood. If she can find heaven, she decides, she can trust her mom.

Obsessed with beauty, Skylar reckons she can get blissed out on “Beautiful Places” like her mother did on drugs. For her, heaven’s just a particularly stunning colour palette. She makes a list of places she finds magical and tears through it, but heaven's yet to appear, and the guy on the Harley just revealed the reason Maureen finally came back: She wants to see Skylar before the cancer she’s refusing to seek treatment for kills her.

Time is running out for Skylar to decide whether to see her mother. But she's holding out for heaven, despite the pull she feels towards Maureen. If there was no mother-daughter relationship before her mother took off, Sky doesn’t see why they should fake one because Maureen’s dying.

SKYLAR’S STORY is a contemporary YA novel complete at 45,000 words. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,
Vee

K.M. said...

Let's see what you think of this big fat queryfail (60+ sent, only 4 requests)

P.S. you are a saint for doing this, may I send cookies?

Dear :

With a family primed for Doctor Phil and a job involving a toilet brush, Daniel Cole realizes he's twenty-one and he has nothing to show for it. When people hear Dan's name, they think of his dropout brother- a candidate in the Board of Education election who destroys his opponent's lawn with thousands of anchovies and some stray cats. When Dan meets Aidan, a heartthrob guitarist for a local band needing a drummer, he has an epiphany: music, his long lost love, will bring him friends, girls, and popularity.

Instead, chaos ensues. With songs like "Fluffy Didn't Run Away (Your Parents Lied to You)" and "You Looked Better on the Web," joining Lincoln's Navigators doesn’t give Dan the aura of coolness he expected. With a front man who meditates to Enya and a crybaby bassist trapped in the body of a WWE wrestler, Dan's band mates are even more bizarre than their music. Just when Dan thinks he has found his equal in Shannon, a film-school dropout and a seasoned musician hater, he learns she is the lead singer’s sister, and the reason why Aidan has been ignoring his groupies. Dan can either win Shannon and get kicked out of the band for screwing over an unexpected new friend, or he can follow a dream he never knew he had. Because for Dan, growing up and growing a pair might just be better than getting a record deal AND the girl of his dreams.

Liz S said...

Thanks for doing this! =)

Dear [Agent],

When 18-year-old Anne Marie Gessner goes in search of her deceased mother's past, she instead tumbles - literally - into the life of a distant relative, Charlotte Corday. After Anne is shipped off to Paris to live with her grandmother, she tries to sort out the lies about her mother's death that have been propagated by a cold grandmother and a distant father. She also turns to the diary of Charlotte Corday, a French revolutionary woman who sacrificed herself for the good of France, and someone Anne's mother once considered a hero.

But strange things start happening with the diary, and Anne time-travels to the French Revolution and becomes Charlotte, a seemingly calm and unpretentious woman who is known in history for having murdered Jean-Paul Marat.

Her two realities become increasingly intertwined. From back home in Chicago, her father nags her about what she plans on doing with her life since she doesn't intend to go to college. A new friend of hers, Pierre, tries to bring her in touch with her mother's past, while dealing with his own present troubles that revolve around the riots ravaging the Paris suburbs in November 2005. Her best friend Lisa, attending college in Illinois, is still mad at her and refuses to respond to any of her emails. And, as Charlotte, Anne struggles in deciding whether or not to follow through with what Charlotte considered her destiny: killing Marat, killing one man to save 100,000.

THROUGH CHARLOTTE'S EYES is a 55,000 word YA historical fiction novel. I wrote a version of this story for my Masters thesis at [redacted], where I also received an Honorable Mention in the 2007 Emerging Writers Series for Fiction.

While publishers have previously strayed away from protagonists 18-years-old who are no longer in high school, I've noticed a new trend for "New Adult" literature that targets this age group, with decisions and themes that are central to THROUGH CHARLOTTE'S EYES. Anne is trying to figure out what it is she wants to do with her life, while reconciling that with her place in her family.

Thank you for taking the time to consider this work. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Sincerely,
Liz

Beth G. said...

Dear Agent,

There are seven people who could have murdered Margot Matlin.
There’s Jenny. The best friend: obsessive, unreliable, two-faced and desperate.
There’s Ethan. The boyfriend: loving, jealous, violent and lost.
There’s Marisa. The nurse: sweet, kind, twisted and secretive.
There’s Naomi. The stepmother: hated, hateable, shallow and ruthless.
There’s Adam. The stranger: enigmatic, mysterious and bizarrely omnipresent.
There’s Cameron. The conflict of interest: fiercely intelligent, analytical, down-to-earth and lying through his teeth.
There’s Jonah [now, how’s that for a weird coincidence?]. He’s the detective. He’s the narrator. He’s Cameron’s best friend. He’s telling the truth.
Isn’t he?
As Jonah and Cameron travel through their small town, listening and interrogating, they must unravel the stories and the truth. There are seven people who could have murdered Margot Matlin. There are seven stories, seven endings and seven murderers. But the truth can be adjusted. Who is telling the truth? And who can Jonah and Cameron trust, when they can’t even trust each other?
FULL STOPS is a Young Adult mystery, complete at 50,000 words. I believe you would enjoy this novel because...etc. etc.
I am a member of the Poetry Society (UK), one of Foyle Young Poets of the Year 2009 and have published a short story, THE GREATER GOD, in Cantaraville Nine.
Thank you for considering my query. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Beth Greaves.

[Oh, yeah, and I’m in love with BREAK. Not sucking up. Just informing you that I have probably read it five times in the past three weeks. And screw what the other reviewers said. I LOVE Naomi.]

Amna said...

Is it too late to post?

Through Her Eyes, YA Novel: 50,000 words.

Leila Lefley is awkward. While the rest of the students in Eastbay High are panicking over prom and college applications, Leila struggles to come to terms with the real meaning of idioms, people’s lack of interest in van Gogh’s disfigured ear, and the need to wear heels. Why would someone willingly risk a bunion the size of a golf ball? Leila resigns herself to drooling over her crush Neil from a distance. What would the insightful, heartthrob want with Loony Leila? Especially since Leila has Asperger’s syndrome.

Then she bumps into the Thor, literally. He tells her that he is a nymph and she is his charge. His mission is simple-- make Neil fall in love with Leila. Welcome to Dating 101. As a nymph, Thor is a master of seduction. A simple look from Thor and the school’s ancient Latin teacher is ready to drop her pants. But this nymph has his work cut out for him since Leila is different. Cue uncomfortable silences, unnecessary rambling and cringe-worthy situations.

The rules are straightforward. Follow Thor’s instruction, don’t look like an idiot and most importantly, don’t fall in love with the nymph. Some things are easier said than done. The closer Leila gets to Neil, the more she finds herself longing for Thor. But, Thor's mission comes with a timestamp, and with it, his own expiration. Leila has to make Neil fall in love with her fast, or she'll lose Thor forever.

Sincerely,

Amna

Jordyn said...

Not sure if this is still open, but in any case....

Dear [Agent's Name],

Jenna knows the sound of her mother's voice when she's buzzed, knows the angry defensiveness when she's drunk, and knows to make the morning-after coffee strong and black.

For years Jenna and her mother have been each other's only family, leaning on each other for everything. However, as her mom's drinking habit has gotten worse, Jenna's gotten stuck cleaning up her mother's alcohol-laden messes. It's been going on for too long and now, in Jenna's last month of high school, she's not sure how much longer she can handle it. Her boyfriend Brady is her most solid ally, the person she runs to when she needs to get away from the tiny apartment she shares with her mother. Unlike life with her mom, the relationship she shares with Brady is stable and reliable; she finds herself spending more time with him as graduation nears, trying to get away from the life she has cleaning up her mother's many messes. However, when Jenna comes home late one night to find her mother unconscious, passed out from a combination of alcohol and sleeping pills, she ends up in the ER waiting room, pulled back into her mother's orbit by the powerful mother-daughter bond she doesn't know how to escape.

With weeks left until graduation, her mother's drinking getting increasingly worse, and her boyfriend moving at the start of the summer, Jenna must find a way to separate herself from her mom in order to make her own life and stop the horrible, dizzying anxiety that comes from her mother's dysfunction. THE EMPTY BOTTLES is a 46,000 word young adult novel set against the backdrop of motherly love and dysfunction.

Sincerely,

Jordyn