Apr 27, 2010


I want to say that my biggest concern with my query is over editing, i.e Cutting too much information from the original.

To the desk of (agent),

Some people are not meant for the mortal world. Ianna’s stagnant life takes quite a twist when she learns the hard lesson that heartbreak isn’t the only possible nasty side effect when you fall in love, at least not when you fall in love with a vampire. Fatal attraction has taken on an entirely new meaning.

Ianna loses her mortality when a dark coven of vampires tracks her down in a gruesome attack. Ianna’s death brings her new life as a New Blood, a freshly turned vampire. For survival of all that she loves, Ianna must learn to control her overwhelming carnality along with her crippling visions from her previous life as a powerful gypsy.

After extensive research, I believe that you and the (***) agency could be an excellent match for my completed 120,000 word Dark Romantic Fantasy, NEW BLOOD. Also, I have a website available for more information. Thank you for all of your time and consideration.



Rick Daley said...

This is from the author of this query, comments posted on the submissions page:

Just as an FYI, if you want to read a sample of the book it self you can see it at my website www.jacquelynngagne.com The New Blood link has the first two chapters. Yes a touch more then a sample but there are reasons behind that for now.
Also, is there anything like this for synopsis'?

Just realized I am becoming addicted to this site and also the bookends blog. http://bookendslitagency.blogspot.com/ All of you should check it out, I love that site. In fact, that's how I found this one! Funny I never read blogs before I started my query though.

Rick Daley said...

If you submit a synopsis, I'll post it. Be forewarned, though...a synopsis is not likely to get the same degree of feedback as a query.

Rick Daley said...

Here are some thoughts on your query...

You need to re-craft the hook. The second sentence is too long. Pulling a few adjectives will help streamline it some (stagnant life, hard lesson, only possible nasty side effect). Your hook should be concise, and it should absolutely nail the heart of your book.

Questions I have from reading the second paragraph:

Why did the coven track her down? Did they want her for any specific reason?

Why are her visions crippling? What made her powerful? What does this have to do with her life as a vampire?

Jojomama said...

I am just starting this process with my completed novel! AAHHHH! Every writer's nightmare...the dreaded QUERY. I'm glad I found this blog. (=

gj said...

You're using a whole lot of words that don't create any picture for the agent. Which is a double problem, because your word count is a bit high, and a wordy query might lead the agent to think the manuscript also needs massive weeding of excess words.

Take a look at the first substantive paragraph. "Some people are not meant for the mortal world." Okay, but that doesn't give me any picture at all. That's equally true of vampires, witches, trolls, elves, angels, demons, ghosts, bankers and serial killers. (Just kiddinga bout bankers, to see if you're paying attention.)

"Ianna’s stagnant life" -- she's a frog living in a pond?

"takes quite a twist" -- if I don't know what the twist is, I don't know what the story is

"learns the hard lesson that heartbreak isn’t the only possible nasty side effect when you fall in love," -- that's the lesson we all learn, at some point, but again, I don't know what nasty side effect she has, so it doesn't affect me much. Does she get an STD? Does she lose her job? Does she fall off her lily pond into the stagnant water?

"at least not when you fall in love with a vampire." Okay, we've finally got a plot point: protaognist falls in love with a vampire. But I don't know where they met, why she likes him, why he likes her, etc. Which is the meat of a romance.

"Fatal attraction has taken on an entirely new meaning." Perhaps, but I have no idea what that meaning is.

The next paragraph seems to say essentially the same thing, giving a few more details, but not enough to see what's new and interesting about this story.

Start from scratch so you won't be tempted to save the vague phrases. Keep it simple and specific: Protagonist wants ___, because ___, so she does ___, but ___ (the antagonist) opposes her by doing ____. Things get worse when _____.

In other words, just for starters (and you can make it pretty and voice-y afterwards, but you need the underlying structure first): the protagonist wants to join the circus, because she's always believed she could fly, so she runs away from home, and meets a vampire. He's funny and smart and he really can fly. Before long, she's in love with him, but unwilling to become a vampire until his ex-wife, who wants him to be happy, takes the decision away from her and kills her, forcing her to become a vampire or die. The only problem is, the protagonist really likes being a vampire, and is only too willing to munch on every human she meets, which is irritating her true love.

Well, that's not your story. But I don't know what your story really is, and that's the problem. Be specific and focus on the goal, motivation and conflict. Check out Deb Dixon's book of that name, if you haven't already.


Jacquelynn said...

Well then. Alrighty.

folksinmt said...

gj--can't wait to see what your book is about! :) Your fake query is awesome.

I agree with other comments: too much generalization.

And sorry, but when I saw the title, I immediately thought, "Oh no, not another vampire story." I think you need to make sure your vampire story sounds completely unique--entirely different from the legions of others if its going to stand out. Not that there is anything wrong with your story, but really focus on what is different--I think you might have it with the fact the the mc is the vampire and is trying to control her appetite. Skip all the backstory and lead with that.

Good luck. Now go eat some chocolate.

Falen said...

You mention in the first paragraph that she falls in love with a vampire. But then, that's the last time it's mentioned. If it's not important to the story, ditch it.

However because this is a romance i'm betting it is important, so it needs to be woven throughout the query. I hope the romance is attached to her conflict in some way...

How does falling in love with a vampire lead to her conflict?
Right now, the conflict i see is that she "must learn to control her overwhelming carnality along with her crippling visions from her previous life as a powerful gypsy"
but i don't know why she needs to do this. What are the stakes (pun not intended)?
What happens if she doesn't control her carnality? What happens if she can't control her visions?
Are these two aspects at a crossroads to each other?
And what does any of this have to do with her romance?

Clarify and streamline. Who is the MC, what is her motivation, what is her conflict and what is at stake.

Start there, or with GJ's fill in the blank starter and i think you'll be well on the way.

Also (though i don't read TONS of paranormal romance) i think her being a powerful gypsy is what may make your vampire story unique.
Maybe try and play that up a bit?

Good luck!

gj said...

I know it's daunting to be told to start over, but you can do this. You're just trying too hard, I think. Relax. Just tell the core of the story simply and concretely.

Jacquelynn said...

Your absolutely right, I am trying too hard. I have rewritten this query a dozen or more times. I would actually bet on the more. I am working on it. And to be honest. Every thing Im throwing out on the page is complete crap. So thus far, until further notice, I am in brainstorm mode.

Thank you everyone for all of the help.

Rick Daley said...

The best place for you to start in the re-write is to use gj's suggestion for a single sentence that sums up the heart of your story. Once you have that sentence, add to it until you reach 250 words.

A natural tendency in query writing is to over-write it and then try to pare it down, but this almost always leaves loopholes; the clarity of something you retain depends on something you cut.

Take your time with it. Considering that your query is the doorway to formal publication, it should not be rushed.