Monday, July 7, 2008

#52

Dear Query Shark:

My story is approximately 200,00 words. It is the first in a series. It is the story of three international detectives. One is from Rome, Italy, and the other two are from London, England. It is in the style of James Bond but a little tongue-in-cheek humor. I have traveled to Rome, Italy, Costa Rica, and I now live in Tarpon Springs, Florida. ---

This is like the start of a legal brief. You tell me where people are from, how long the book is and that you've travelled. You're missing the most important element of a query letter: why should I care? I don't mean that harshly, but the purpose of a query letter is to interest me in the story. You have to tell me the interesting parts. These aren't.

The story starts in Tarpon Springs, Florida where the three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate that is acquired from owners who are never found, just disappear.

I think there are three failures of logic here. Rather than list them, how about we let the commenters have a go?

In the next chapter we travel to Philadelphia, PA, where they are trying to find out who robbed the Philadelphia Mint. They come across four assailants who they think are responsible for the theft because they have been following them. They are from Shanghai and Russia.

This is where I think you're sending this in to the Query Shark to be funny. There's no connection between the paragraphs or the events. You use "they" to mean three different sets of people. I'd need a road map to be confused. Right now I'm hitting "auto rejection"

I am originally from Philadelphia, PA, and my wife and I now live in Florida. I like to write and to travel.


Hope this will whet your appetite to read more of the story.

This is not an effective query letter. It does not entice me to read further.

17 comments:

bish said...

and the people say...

what the hell...

don't f with a shark.

Peg Leg O'Sullivan said...

I've been to Tarpon Springs, home of Sponge-o-Rama. Somehow I can believe that this query is for real.

Bad Author said...

This has to be a faux query.

the three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa

This is as serious as I can get with the commentary:

008- WTF? No, no, and HELL no! Unless you're Ian Fleming Incarnate or Sebastian Faulks on acid, then please don't do the 008 thing. I've seen it in several comedy skits and a couple of bad films. Tongue-in-cheek or not, just don't do it.

Max- who is joined by his partners; Epad, Imum, and TJ.

Rosa- Perhaps this is Rosa Blasi and there are several sex scenes? That would be the only way to save this query.

I have traveled to Rome, Italy, Costa Rica, and I now live in Tarpon Springs, Florida. I've been everywhere, man.

Anyway, rewrite and resubmit. I'm sure that the story is good. And please don't take my light-hearted ribbing too seriously.(You should hear how I talk to my GrandMother :)

Sindee said...

Huh?

Lehcarjt said...

The story starts in Tarpon Springs, Florida where the three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate that is acquired from owners who are never found, just disappear.

Why hire two brits and and Italian to work on a real estate problem in the US? Wouldn't this fall under US jurisdiction? Why hire super spies anyway? Why not just try to purchase the properties and follow the money?

Also, if they are 'never found' doesn't that pretty much imply that they have disappeared?

I agree with bad author. Don't use 008, even humorously. It falls flat.

Clare said...

The story starts in Tarpon Springs, Florida where the three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate that is acquired from owners who are never found, just disappear.

Okay, let me try to rewrite this and hope I'm keeping the content accurate, because I don't understand it:
The story starts in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where people are buying prime real estate, only to discover that the previous owners have mysteriously disappeared. Three agents--008, Max, and Rosa--are hired to solve the mystery. They must find the people responsible for selling this property, as well as what happened to the original owners.

I still don't see how the people selling the property can possibly be mysterious...

Ben said...

*blinks*

My first issue would be on the word count. Is "200,00" supposed to be "200,000" or "20,000"? If it's the former, then that is awfully long. I can't recall the last time I read a 200,000 word book, especially not something involving detectives. If it's 20,000, then that's awfully short....

What is this about "in the next chapter"? How do these three detectives go from investigating real estate fraud to mint robbery in the course of a chapter? Are these crimes related?

This query made my brain hurt. :(

talpianna said...

I agree with the people who think your characters are out of place. The real estate fraud would probably be investigated either by the state Attorney General or the FBI (if it involved interstate commerce), and possibly the SEC, the ICC, and/or postal inspectors if the mail was involved. And the disappearances would be investigated by local and state police.

Any crimes involving the U.S. Mint are under the jurisdiction of the Treasury Department and would be investigated by the Secret Service. (Yes, that's what they are for--money police; protecting the President is just an add-on.)

John said...

I vote for joke (but then, I'm an optimist).

Although I must say I bleeped right over the "international detectives" descriptor. When I hit "three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate," I just naturally assumed they were REAL ESTATE agents.

Now, that'd be funny.

Amie Stuart said...

The story starts in Tarpon Springs, Florida where the three agents, 008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate that is acquired from owners who are never found, just disappear.


Grammar, grammar...grammar. I'm not even going to touch the 008 reference.

Julia said...

I assumed that Max's last name was Smart, and Rosa's last name was Klebb.

Barb said...

Ummm, I think it's a joke...

beth said...

Is it bad that I just heard a robot voice as I read this query?

Elissa M said...

The word count alone makes me think it's a joke. 200,000 maybe for an awesomely written, uniquely conceived epic fantasy. 20,000 for something middle grade (I think). 200,00 isn't even a real number.

Dan said...

In the sentence, "...008, Max, and Rosa are hired to find the people responsible for selling real estate that is acquired from owners who are never found, just disappear", isn't the leap of logic the fact that if the owners can't be found, and the people selling the real estate can't be found, how does anyone know there is a scam?

Caito said...

Just a drive-by comment, but I swear to God, when I read "Tarpon Springs" I thought it said Tampon Strings.

Tom said...

Sorry to come so late to the party on this one, but this query pressed one of my buttons.

the [city name], [state/country name] construction is really useful in referring to US cities with common names. There's a Springfield in pretty much every state, so specifying Springfield, Kentucky is useful.

There may be other places called London and Rome, but none of them are ever worth knowing about, so specifying "London, England" and "Rome, Italy" makes you look ignorant and simultaneously implies that you think the audience is ignorant - that they need to have it explained that London is in a different country.