Wednesday, May 14, 2008

#25-1 Revision

Dear Ms. Reid,

On behalf of writers everywhere, I thank you for your very helpful service,"Query Shark." I hope you will consider representing my novel, "The Former Desolations" (women's fiction of about 400 pages).

Page count is irrelevant. Word count is what matters. A 79K ms is 304 pages in 12 pt TNR and 393 pages in 12 pt Courier.

In leaving her hometown, Libby left behind the great love of her life, Dylan Murray, in order to pursue an architectural career. Years later, she is married with two children, and her career aspirations are as dead as her passion for life. But when her daughter falls in love with Dylan’s son, Libby’s heart is shocked into life again. Now she has a second chance at happiness—but at the cost of her daughter’s only chance. Faced with the most wrenching choice of her life, Libby meets someone who teaches her that sacrifice can lead to the greatest fulfillment of all.


First, you don't have an architectural career unless you are a building. You have a career as an architect or a career in architecture. Yes it seems like a minor point, but when all I see is the query letter, every single word needs to be right.

What do Libby's failed career aspirations have to do with being married with children? Why is her passion for life dead? And really, that's all set up and back story. The story starts when her daughter falls in love with Dylan's son.

And why is this a problem? What's the wrenching choice? Divorce?

And the central problem is I don't sense any life here. There's no reason to care about Libby or her daughter. They've got problems. Who doesn't. Your words have to be chosen to show us (not tell us) why Libby will matter to us.

I have worked in publishing for many years, during which time I founded a women's journal that is still in publication. My name is well known within that journal's circulation. I have published numerous articles, a few poems,and one short story. "The Former Desolations" is my first novel.

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


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Revision #1

Dear Query Shark:

I hope you will consider representing my novel, "The FormerDesolations" (women's fiction of about 115,000 words).

Libby Veronin thinks herself content until she discovers that her daughter Meredith is in love with Aaron Murray—the estranged son of Libby’s own first love, Dylan. As her memories of Dylan grow into an obsession, Libby realizes she is not happy at all; she’s traded all her dreams for the crushingly ordinary sort of life she left her hometown to escape. Then, jJust when Libby feels she’s about to explode, she finds out Meredith is pregnant and Aaron doesn’t want the baby.

Libby grabs this opportunity to meet Dylan at their children’s university, hoping to resolve both Meredith and Aaron’s situation and her own relationship with Dylan. But i Instead of closure for a buried passion, she finds the reopening of one that never died. If she and Dylan leave their families to pursue the life they always dreamed of together, Aaron will abandon Meredith and the baby. To save her daughter’s prospects of happiness, Libby will have to sacrifice her own—unless she can find another way to rebuild her dreams.

I have worked in publishing for many years, during which time I founded a women's journal that is still in publication. My name is well known within that journal's circulation. I have published numerous articles, a few poems, and one short story. "The Former Desolations" is my first novel. It runs 115,000 words.

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



yup, you got it. Give it some more polish -take out every single word you don't need, and use the most vivid words you can- and you're good to go.

6 comments:

R. Lyle Wolfe said...

Did you include any tear sheets, galleys, or maybe an editor's rec?

A bad query does not equate to bad writing skills. Except when your query is drowning in cliches; which your's is.

Revise and resubmit.

And JFC: Don't kiss her ass so much.
Wannabes everywhere bow before her. Stand out from the crowd.

Janet Reid said...

tear sheets?
Galleys?
Editors rec?

We call that garbage here.
We throw it away UNREAD.

Do not send anything unless asked, OTHER than a query letter.

This is absolutely industry standard, particularly now that people take equeries.

R. Lyle Wolfe said...

Thank you for the info.

(r. crawls back into the dark recesses with a whimper)

talpianna said...

You don't get an equerry unless you are Royalty.

MacGyverMagic said...

Married with children...
Isn't that illegal on two points?
First you aren't allowed to marry a minor and second, it's probably illegal to marry more than one person in most US states.

BuffySquirrel said...

The revision is a great improvement, even if it does leave me wanting to grab Aaron by the neck and give him a good kicking.