Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Workshop Wednesday

Thanks to all of your contributions, Workshop Wednesday has been a success. We're going to continue on with it for as long as we have entries and the energy to comment on them. If you haven't yet submitted but are still interested, don't be afraid to participate as per the guidelines in our original post.

For anyone wanting to comment, we ask that you comment in a polite and respectful manner, and we ask that you be as constructive as possible. If you can be useful to the brave souls who submitted their query and comment on the query, that's great. Please keep any anonymous tirades on publishing or other snarky comments to yourself. This is and should remain an open and safe forum for people to put themselves and their queries out there so that everyone can learn. I'm leaving comments open and open to anonymous posters, as I always have; don't make me feel the need to change that policy.

And for those who have never "met" Query Shark, get over there and do that. She's the originator of the query critique, the queen, if you will.

Dear Agent,

It is always best to personalize your query so that it doesn’t look like you’ve sent the same query to everyone on

Powers she’s sworn to keep secret…

…an ancient society in hiding…

…a soul-mate she never knew existed…dead.

In Morgan Cauldwell’s life, nothing is as it seems.

This sounds like one cliché after another and it doesn’t tell me very much about your book. Also, the unorthodox style feels like a lazy cop-out. I would much rather have this information — and much more — in a few well-written paragraphs.

After her Grandmother's passing, Morgan must make a new home at secluded Manchester Academy, where mysterious Chase Thomas knows some of her deepest secrets. He knows much more than Morgan bargained for; especially when it comes to the inexplicable powers she’s been guarding so carefully.

Is Chase a student? The weird janitor? What do you mean when you say he knows more than Morgan bargained for? Why did she bargain for him to know anything?

But when the secrets come out, when will they stop? How much power should one person possess?

I do not like these hypothetical questions. I would like you to tell me about your story, not ask me about it. A simple enticing question at the end of a well-written query such as, “But will she get there in time?” can be effective, but questions don’t work here because all we know about your book is that there is a young girl with supernatural powers and someone knows about them. What conflict is Morgan fighting? Why does Chase matter and what role does he play in her journey?

Gifted is an 86,090 word YA Fantasy Romance. 

I appreciate your time and consideration. 

Thank you.

This is romance? Oh. I didn’t know — and that’s a problem. If, by the end of your query, I was not able to categorize it, I worry that I won’t be able to categorize your book — a requisite for pitching it to publishers.

I would have rejected this because I don’t have enough information and I worry that, since you’re not able to get across your point in a one-page query letter, your book’s plot might have interesting elements but go nowhere.