Jun 29, 2010

Query - Back to Me

Dear Agent,

Jake Bailey is Kate Dalton’s boomerang love, the person from the famous Richard Bach quote who comes back when you set them free. Unfortunately for Kate, good ole Richard never said anything about what it meant when this scenario happened over and over again.

No matter how many times Kate let Jake fly free into the world, he always came back when she least expected it. She’d try to move on with someone new only to come home from a wonderful date to find Jake on her doorstep. One look at those twinkling green eyes and that boyish grin and she couldn’t help but remember she loved him.

Now it’s been eight years since they first met and Kate finds herself faced with the realization that Jake won’t be coming back this time. As she reflects on their time together, she’s torn between the empty ache in her chest and the chance to start fresh with someone new. Can Kate learn how to say goodbye to someone she’s not certain she can live without?

"Back to Me" is a completed 80,000 word women’s fiction manuscript.

I am a [occupation] and soon-to-be published author. My nonfiction book [Title Redacted] is due out with [Publishing Company] in early 2011. I also write for [well-known publication] in their [name of section], and have been published by a leading journal, an online magazine and a number of news outlets and blogs for my work on [certain topics]. I make regular television appearances with [regional television network] and blog on their website. Though none of these experiences directly relates to writing fiction, all of them have given me opportunities to grow as a writer and have prepared me for the editing process.

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

Yours truly,

[Hopeful Fiction Author]

8 comments:

RCWriterGirl said...

I like the overall theme of the query. It gives a nice sense of the feel of the book.

However, I've got two overall issues. One, the opening sets the tone and helps you understand what's happening. But, it's awkwardly phrased. I apologize, because I don't know exactly what to do to fix it. I just know it's very awkward. Maybe just get rid of "from the famous Richard Bach quote" and say, "the person who comes back when you set them free." I think it's the attribution that's making it seem so awkward. No one will accuse you of plagiarism for not citing Bach in a query. You're going for brevity, here and the briefest explanation is the unattributed explanation.

Second, you don't explain why he's not coming back. You've spent the whole first two paragraphs explaining he ALWAYS comes back. Well, what happened? You need something in there to explain why she believes he's not coming back. Is he MIA in Iraq? Why is she so sure he's not coming back, when you just told me, he ALWAYS comes back?

Other than that, the query looks good. As do your credentials in the last paragraph.

good luck.

Anonymous said...

You lost me at twinkling green eyes and boyish grin. The guy sounds like a stalker. A stalker with twinkling green eyes and a boyish grin.

Jenny said...

I like the theme as well, and was interested in the query--but stopped short when I didn't get to read anything that actually happens in the book. The first two paragraphs are setup/backstory. Then we've got "Jake won't be coming back," "she reflects on their time together," and "can Kate learn to say goodbye." There's no action, no conflict, no plot. Is the book really just about Kate remembering Jake? Or does something else happen? If so, please tell us.

Michelle Massaro said...

Here's my trunicated version of your query. I think it needs to be streamlined a bit and have the main conflict introduced, like the others have said.
***

Dear Agent,

Jake Bailey is Kate Dalton’s boomerang love, the person who comes back when you set them free. Unfortunately for Kate, nobody ever said anything about what it meant when this scenario happened over and over again.

No matter how many times Kate let Jake fly free, he always came back into her life when she least expected it. She’d try to move on with someone new only to come home from a wonderful date to find Jake on her doorstep. One look into his eyes and she couldn’t help but fall in love with him again.

Eight years later (XYZ happens), and Jake's gone again- this time for good. Kate is torn between the empty ache in her chest and the excitement of a fresh start. (Then XYZ happens and Kate must XYZ). Can she learn how to say goodbye to someone she’s not certain she can live without?
***
I think this is much cleaner and focused. Hope it helps!

Kristi said...

Thank you for the comments! I've been revising this for a few days and when I came back, I was happy to find that I addressed most of these things in my revision.

The one thing I'm having trouble with is why Jake is gone...it's sort of a twist in the novel, so I don't want to reveal it in the query. Hopefully I worded it better in the new query.

GhostFolk.com said...

Oh, I do LOVE your Boomerang Love theme!

But I don't fully see where you mean this novel to fit in the marketplace. For general "women's fiction", I don't see enough story here. Are you leaving a major plot tiwst out of the description?

Do you mean "women's fiction" as a euphemism for "Romance"? Are you thinking "Chick Lit" but afraid to use the term?

I want to know more and that is good! However, I also kind of NEED to know more in the query, as well. Why does Jake FINALLY quit coming back. Is he dead, married, in a coma?

All that said, your writing here is crisp and I like you project.

If you wanted to move the story, characters, and THEME, to YA, you could sell this in a heartbeat. And the level of "story" you describe seems to fit there. 80,000 words works for YA, too. And so does the female lead... and the theme!!! So well, so well.

GhostFolk.com said...

Kristi

The one thing I'm having trouble with is why Jake is gone...it's sort of a twist in the novel, so I don't want to reveal it in the query.

You don't have to show it here. But this approach you are adopting is amateur hour. Sorry. It is. You don't hold the story back from the agent. No no.

Your agent is your friend AND needs to know the twist up front.
An agent needs to know quickly EVERYTHING that makes the book works.

Meanwhile, it's sort of (cough, cough) obvious to everyone that your character manages to move on and then, although you set it up that he "can't", Jake comes back ... one more time.

A good set-up is crucial, but how the story takes hold of the reader beyond the set-up is crucial "first look" information an agent needs to know in order to be interested enough to ask for more. I promise.

gj said...

Unless this is lit-fic (which is way outside my expertise), you still need a plot, and you don't have one here. The writing is lovely, but there's no story. Just sitting and thinking and passivity.

Story requires conflict. That means, at its most fundamental, a character with a goal, doing something in furtherance of that goal, and someone opposing it. Stakes too -- consequences if she fails in her goal. And (again, except perhaps for lit-fic), some part of that goal should be external and concrete.

Start over. Not because this is so bad, but because it's filled with darlings that you'll need to cut eventually, and because you haven't hit the basics: protagonist wants X because Y, but Z is opposing her goal. I should be able to insert a word or two for each of XY and Z, and I can't do that for any of them. Does she want him to come back? And if so, why would she think he'd stay? And how would it change her life if he did? And then what's she doing to make it happen? Sitting and hoping do not a protagonist make.

I'd also suggest getting some feedback on the manuscript itself, because it may start in the wrong place. At least as you're describing it here, along with the reluctance to explain why she believes (doesn't matter what the reality is, just what she believes, because it's her belief that pushes the story forward) he won't be coming back this time, the inciting event appears to be whatever makes her think he won't be coming back. But you're hiding that information, as if it were the twist ending to the story, which makes it sound like there's a big chunk of backstory -- virtually the whole manuscript! -- before the inciting event.

Now, that may be just because you're focusing on the wrong things in the query, but if the query is an accurate reflection of the pace of the story, there may be problems that go beyond the query.

OTOH, if the protagonist has a clear goal and is doing stuff (not sitting and moping over a guy, or daydreaming about the past), then that's the plot, and the guy's never coming back is a final plot twist, that the guy shouldn't be much of an element in the query. But then you have the problem that there's no story at all without him, because I don't know what she wants or what she's doing about it, other than thinking about the guy.

Focus on what the story is really about, what the core EXTERNAL conflict is, and structure your query around that. Is it really the guy, or is it something else about her life that she's trying to fix, and his coming back (or failing to) complicates what she's trying to accomplish? If it's really the guy, then lead with the event when she first realizes he's not coming back. If it's really about her (which is typical of women's fiction), then lead with whatever she's trying to accomplish, that will be set back when he returns/fails to return.