Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Query Critique #9

Tyler McNally has a secret—a few of them, actually. Keeping track of just who suspects what is exhausting but he doesn’t dare come clean. Being exposed as a virgin would sink his lucrative erotica (You might want to clarify it’s erotic writing. My first thought was that he’s a porn star) career, and his family discovering he pens naughty stories is not something he wants to contemplate. Juggling everyone’s expectations, Tyler goes about trying to be different things for different people—an experienced sensualist on one hand, and a successful writer on the other. (Make them more opposite. An experienced sensualist and a good boy? Or something like that. Follow through on the strong hook.)

What a great opening. It made me laugh instantly. Based on this paragraph alone I would request to read more of this book.

Jeanette Vines has hit a brick wall. Eight agents and two editors have read her beloved manuscript, only to tell her it falls flat. She needs help developing the male point of view, but since it’s an erotic romance and she’s sworn off men, she’s in a bit of a quandary. When her good friend/muse suggests a solution When her friend and muse suggests (oops) allowing a male writer to review it as the obvious solution, Jeanette bolsters herself against the possible insinuations and allows Tyler to read her story. (Obviously this sentence needs some editing. That would make me wonder how much work your manuscript needs if you can’t even edit a letter. Make sure your letters are perfect.)

From the first words he reads, Tyler knows Jeanette’s the one he's been waiting for all his life. But when he confesses everything to her, she doesn't exactly come running. Jeannette wants to take things slow and is slightly put off by his talk about marriage and working on a project together. Tyler doesn't understand her hesitancy and, thinking she doesn’t understand his ardor, doubles his pursuit. When everything comes crashing down Tyler steps back and sees that sometimes the truth is the only thing that can set you free.

This sounds really, really cheesy and not at all strong enough for a single title. Would he really be ridiculous enough to confess his love immediately? Based on this paragraph the book needs more conflict. Something bigger has to come between these two, something that will make me want to represent this book. The set-up is good, now I need follow-through.

Little White Lies is my sixth completed manuscript, my second single-title length.

Great title! How long is it and what genre are you targeting? Since they write erotica, is it erotica? That would be my assumption unless you tell me otherwise.

Currently, I have two novels with Mills & Boon’s Modern Extra line and am contracted for another. If you’d like, I could send you copies of Just One Spark and Cooking Up A Storm. I have a short story in the Dreams & Desires charity anthology, and another on eHarlequin. I am active in my local RWA chapter and in online groups like eHarlequin, Pink Heart Society, and Romance Divas.

Excellent credentials.

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Nice strong ending.


Jenna Bayley-Burke


Check back tomorrow for one more query critique.


kris said...

So in a case such as this, where the opening hooked you but subsequent portions of the letter gave you pause, would you still ask for more?

BookEnds, A Literary Agency said...

Of course my answer varies depending on what the problems were in the letter and yes sometimes my mood. In this case I probably would not. The opening was fantastic, but in the end I didn't feel like the story was really that interesting or different.

Think of it this way. If the back cover copy of a book really grabbed you, but seemed awkward and boring as you read on would you buy the book?


Unknown said...

hmmm...okay, so I got his paragraph right, but tripped through hers and stalled in the clinch. At least I started well and now know where it all falls to pieces! Thanks.

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Jenna, you know you're the Query Queen in my book. But I'm glad you got some good suggestions.