Monday, May 21, 2007

Query Critique #3

Gerard Fauchey
Gardenias 8, Hacienda Cocoyoc
Yautepec, Morelos, MEXICO 62736
Tel & Fax: (52) 735- 356-1223/ 735-126-1770 (Cell phone)

Don’t forget your web site if you have one. . . .

May 1, 2007
Query: I Only Know I Fell in Love with You
Genre: Erotica / Psychology

I’m not sure how these two genres would fit together. Erotica is typically fiction, psychology nonfiction. Don’t overlabel your work.

Word Count: 100,000
Status: Finished and translated to Spanish
Editor (Spanish version): Gian Carlo Corte,
former Chief Editor of Random House-Mondadori

There’s no reason to supply the information above. Get to the point and interest me. This should all be a part of the query letter. I’m also confused by the information on the translation and your editor. If in fact it’s published in a Spanish version I would need to know which house and which country, but I do not need an editor’s name.

Ms. Jessica Faust
BookEnds, LLC

Dear Ms. Faust,

I Only Know I Fell in Love with You
(here’s where you can add the details of genre and word count) is a story of passionate love and conflict . . .

Passionate love and conflict are vague terms. Every single romance is about passionate love and conflict. You should only be telling me what your story is about that makes it different. Get to the plot points, the exciting differentiations.

The main obstacle in Julio and Maritza’s road to happiness is her inability to reach orgasm.

Boring! How about: For seven years Maritza has suffered from an inability to reach orgasm. Her difficulties are taking a toll on her marriage and her self-esteem. In I Only Know I Fell in Love with You we read as one couple struggles to save a failing marriage. . . .

This conflicting situation is today a sad and worrisome fact of life for a majority of women (70% according to The Hite Report), a disturbing subject that has been scarcely addressed in novels in which the act of love is generally an idealized event.

Stick with the details of the story. I have no interest in statistics about how many people suffer from anything. Whether it’s OCD, cancer, or an inability to reach orgasm, the book will sell because people fall in love with the characters and plot. The conflicts and/or challenges the characters face are part of that, but do not alone sell a work of fiction. If you’re writing nonfiction, I need stats.

I Only Know I Fell in Love with You is not a work of titillating erotica per se, although sex (or the lack of it) strongly affects and influences the development of the relationship, as it usually does in real-life.

Don’t tell me what the book isn’t, tell me what it is. My other concern is that if people aren’t having sex it’s not erotica, unless they are doing other things sexually without the intercourse. I need to know how it’s erotica if that’s what you’re going to call it.

It’s hard to tell you what your hook should be since it doesn’t come through anywhere in your letter. I need to know, in two sentences, what this book is about. Not psychologically, but what this plot is about. Is it an erotic tale of two lovers exploring new and creative ways to reach orgasm? Is it the story of a marriage that suffers because of the failed attempts of one to orgasm?

The title is long, I know, but it reflects with Socratic simplicity what the book is about.

I have no interest in what the title represents. The title should reflect the story in some way and, more important, grab a reader’s attention. That’s it. There should be no reason to explain it. If you have to explain it you should probably find a new title.

The story is told in first-person, as seen from the man’s point of view. Julio finds himself frequently baffled by Maritza’s exasperating conduct while at the same time his heart is captivated by her intoxicating joie de vivre. At the end, after losing his family and career, his beloved marries someone else and Julio has to admit that the only thing he knows is that he fell in love.

I have to admit, nothing in this paragraph tells me what the book is about. What really happens?

The story takes place in Mexico and Cuba and it evolves in a series of unexpected and sometimes funny, occasionally dramatic plot twists that keep the reader turning the pages. It is not a formula romance novel, but rather a tale of deep feelings in the style of Nabokov’s Lolita.

Delete this entire paragraph. It says nothing.

I currently work as public speaker for Omnilife, Latin America’s largest multilevel company. Sample chapters and the full manuscript are ready for your request. I thankfully appreciate your consideration and time.

But is the book published? This is a much more important issue than whether or not you are a public speaker. I need to know a writing history.

In the end, I’m not sure who would buy this book. Would people really buy a book because it’s about sexual dysfunction? No, I doubt it. What they would buy is a book about a marriage that is falling apart and the unique (key word) things a couple does to save it. Or, they would buy an erotic romance about all of the fun and exciting things a couple might do to help one achieve an orgasm she has never had. Sexual dysfunction in itself though isn’t that exciting.


Check back Wednesday for the next query critique.


December Quinn said...

The Hite report showed that 70% of women who were/are unable to reach orgasm through intercourse are able to do so through masturbation, not that 70% of women are flatly unable to orgasm.

I've also heard that number--70%--as the approximate percentage of women who are unable to orgasm through intercourse alone, period, but who can by using other forms of stimulation on their own or combined with intercourse.

Most studies claim the number of totally anorgasmic women is about 25%--still a higher number than it should be, but definitely not 70%.

That alone would make me put this query aside, sorry. If you're going to claim statistics, you need to get them right.

Believe me, if women were that anorgasmic on the whole, books in my genre wouldn't sell nearly as well! :-)

Anonymous said...

This query only left me confused, I'm afraid. It's erotic, but there's no sex. Obviously, her inability to orgasm only affects her relationship with him because she marries someone else, even though you give us no clue why she would. So it's not an issue book, because she apparently winds up happy after dumping him. (And why would there necessarily be no sex even if she couldn't reach orgasm?) So it seems like it's HIS problem, not hers.

Is it, then, simply a story about unrequited love? If so, why the hoopla around HER sexual dysfunction since it doesn't seem to affect HER ability to fall in love and marry someone else? Maybe it's a male/female thing, but nothing about what you've written here evokes any sympathy for Julio from this female reader.

jolinn said...

it sounds like literary fiction...

Anonymous said...

It sounds like wannabe literary fiction. And I take offense to the "not a formula romance."

I write category romance. In each of my queries/proposoal - I'm always able to describe the story... because I have one.

Anonymous said...

It would be a courtesy to remove this man's personal contact information from the query. I imagine this is his home address, not his business address.

Heaven knows, enough private informaton about us is on the web without adding more.