1. Charlie TC

    Charlie TC New Member

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    Query Letter Literary romance

    Discussion in 'Query & Cover Letter Critique' started by Charlie TC, Apr 11, 2019.

    I got no feedback on my last post, so I assume it wasn't worth the time. Let's try again:

    First, thank you for taking the time to read this note. While I would never claim to be the next Nicholas Sparks, I have written a book I think his readers will love.

    Ruby is a young, vivacious and slightly sassy blonde living in LA in 1951. She’s on her High School cheer squad, does well in her classes and sings in the church choir. No one would suspect that underneath she’s scared of being considered white trash since her family is poor and only recently migrated from Oklahoma. Ken is brilliant but kind of geeky. He’s a literal boy scout, who believes all of life should be an adventure. Being raised in a middle-class family that traveled a lot, he wants to see the world and understand how it all works. When they meet on a blind date their worlds collide in wonderful and unexpected ways. Their future together is threatened by Lola, the girl who has it all and decides she wants Ken added to the pile. The relationship they share changes as the country shifts through the Cold War, the Space Race, the Sexual Revolution, and all the way into the new century. Through love, joy, fear, separation, jealousy, alcoholism and illness, it’s a story that reflects both personal history and the evolution of the twentieth century. Told through third person narrative and personal journal entries, you see inside not only the characters themselves, but what it was like to live in America during this historic era. It’s a fun ride.

    The story is complete at 60,400 words. Although this is short for a novel, and long for a novelette, it is about the length of many of Mr. Sparks’ novels, so I think his fans will approve.
     
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  2. bevett

    bevett New Member

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    Does the letter begin with "First, thank you for taking the time..."? I wasn't clear. QueryShark strongly recommends putting what she calls housekeeping after the description of your book. Get right to the point: "Ruby is a young..."

    (if you don't know about QueryShark, you should check her out: https://queryshark.blogspot.com/2019/. She's an agent who devotes some of her time to critiquing queries and her advice is outstanding. It's a long read, but totally worth it).

    Also, be careful about the self-deprecating thing. It can come off as exploitative or inveigling. Keep it simple - "Readers of Nicholas Sparks will enjoy this book."

    I think the opening is pretty good, but overlong - try to describe your MCs in a sentence each so you can get to the action. Also, describing your characters with adjectives like "sassy" is not as good as saying "she does well in classes, etc.". The first is just you telling the reader what to think, the second is showing them.

    Things get a little iffy when we get to the part about the country shifting through the cold war, space race, etc. Suddenly this is a giant social epic (and its only 60K). We lose what's happening to the characters, and there seems to be stuff missing. Do Ken and Ruby get married? Are they forever kept apart by Lola? "The relationship they share changes..." is vague. Don't focus on the context, focus on the plot.

    Finally, don't apologize for the shortness of your work. It won't help. Just let it be. QueryShark always recommends you end your query with a simple, "Thank you for your time and consideration."

    Good luck!
     
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  3. Selbbin

    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Yeah, I was confused too. What's the first line of the query?

    if it's the thank you line, do NOT put yourself down. Don't say you're not the next Nicholas Sparks because you might be. For the record, he is WAY over-rated and started just like the rest of us.

    Simply start with word count, what your genre is and that it would appeal to the same audience as Nicholas Sparks. That established genre and market. Don't end with it. I found the core of the query ok. Also, end with a little about yourself and any credentials you may have. What you have studied or any awards. Also, don't explain what that length means (short for a novel etc.) to a literary agent or publisher. They know.
     
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    I'm another reader wondering how you can cover that much historical territory in only 60K words. I was going to suggest you change your genre to "epic romance" or "romantic epic" or something (because Nicholas Sparks isn't literary), but that won't work if you're only at 60K!
     
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I suppose it depends on how much depth and how much time jump - Red Shift is only about 60k words and that covers romans and present day by way of the civil war
     
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  6. SwipeOfFate

    SwipeOfFate New Member

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    Hey! I'm just starting off too, but here are some of my thoughts:

    First, thank you for taking the time to read this note. While I would never claim to be the next Nicholas Sparks, I have written a book I think his readers will love.

    Don't start with this----Get into your hook right away. Also, I agree with others... You can just say this novel will appeal to readers of Nicholas Sparks later.

    Ruby is a young, vivacious and slightly sassy (What does slightly sassy mean? Haha, just say sassy!) blonde living in LA in 1951. She’s on her High School (Does high school need to be capitalized?) cheer squad, does well in her classes (This is boring wording to me) and sings in the church choir. No one would suspect that underneath she’s scared of being considered white trash since her family is poor and only recently migrated from Oklahoma. (I feel like this could be sharper----like no one would suspect she hides a secret...) Ken is brilliant but kind of geeky. He’s a literal boy scout, who believes all of life should be an adventure. Being raised in a middle-class family that traveled a lot, he wants to see the world and understand how it all works. When they meet on a blind date their worlds collide in wonderful and unexpected ways. Their future together is threatened by Lola, the girl who has it all and decides she wants Ken added to the pile. (I'm not sure why, but this characterization seemed a little flat.... like the mean girl character should be more complex, although I get it's just a synopsis in the query letter!) The relationship they share changes as the country shifts through the Cold War, the Space Race, the Sexual Revolution, and all the way into the new century. Through love, joy, fear, separation, jealousy, alcoholism and illness, it’s a story that reflects both personal history and the evolution of the twentieth century. Told through third person narrative and personal journal entries, you see inside not only the characters themselves, but what it was like to live in America during this historic era. It’s a fun ride. (Don't tell them it's a fun ride. Let it speak for itself).

    The story is complete at 60,400 words. Although this is short for a novel, and long for a novelette, it is about the length of many of Mr. Sparks’ novels, so I think his fans will approve. (I think the bold is unnecessary).
     

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