Where was her dog?
She felt the first splinter of worry when Hope didn't come in for dinner.
Emily Hunt lived through her dogs. When her dogs succeeded in the show ring and field trials, Emily owned their success. She watched them lounge in the sun when she needed to warm her own soul. She saw her God in her old dogs’ eyes.
It made no sense to keep the runt from an otherwise impressive litter, but Emily had a feeling. A strange, magical connection. And the little white whippet proved her right. Hope became Emily's star - a running phenomenon that showed her disappearing fanny to the fastest sighthounds in the country. But more, Hope became Emily's heart.
Hope had known only kindness from the humans in her life. Granted, humans make idiotic mistakes; dogs were used to that. The species was basically blind and deaf with noses that did nothing but decorate their faces. The poor dears had lost nearly all ability to communicate truth because they relied on their clumsy spoken language. "Blah, blah, blah," they'd babble on, saying nothing at all. Dumb, dependent, sweet creatures. Hope adored her Emily.
She was no ordinary dog. She could make humans hear her. Of course humans would mistake Hope’s words for their own thoughts. Most humans did, anyway. But dogs knew.
After she was grabbed her from her yard, Hope encountered a new breed of human. She stared through crusty cage wires at indifference, greed, and evil. The indifference hurt the most. She was sick, she was sad, she was so tired. She felt madness licking closer.
Emily's search to find Hope uncovered the dark underworld of stolen dogs. They auction dogs like cattle. Emily had known about puppy mills, where dogs were kept in criminally abhorrent conditions and literally bred to death, but only as a distant, shameful concept.
The thought of her dog at a place like that.
Hope had been gone for two years. Even Emily was thinking maybe it was over. Could she give up and go back to her comfortable life, as her friends and husband advised, (dogs get lost all the time, you don't let it ruin your life, for God's sake move on), or would she keep trying to search for Hope? She had her other dogs to train, to compete, and there was a waiting list for puppies. But the dreams were so damn real.
And then she got an email. A lead that changed her life in a way she never imagined.
Because of one very special little dog.
Little Hope is 78,000 words.
I believe this book, told from the both the human and distinctly canine points of view, would appeal to young adults and the world of adult dog lovers.
You had me in the palm of your hand right up to self-published. That's why I'd advise taking it out. Even if you think it unfair, it's true there is a prejudice against previously self-published writers at the query stage. You don't need this in a query; it's not a writing credit. Leave it out. You can always mention it later after your agent has signed you up and sold your book.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
All the best-
wow! You REALLY improved this query. Congratulations on all your effort and hard work!!
Dear Query Shark:
Childless landowner Emily Hunt lives through her whippets, especially a little bitch named Hope. Other dogs immediately recognize Hope's extraordinary gift: humans can hear her. Humans, hampered by their clumsy reliance on the spoken word, mistake hearing Hope for their own thoughts.
What do "childless" and "landowner" have to do with the story? Are these the two most important things we need to know about Emily? My guess is no, they are not. Therefore, don't put them first in a query letter.
When Hope disappears, Emily is determined to find her, haunted by memories of her first dog, taken away when six-year-old Emily was placed in foster care. She will not have another dog taken from her, though her obsession threatens her friendships and her marriage.
I'm not sure we need to know why Emily is determined to find Hope. It makes sense that if she lives through her dogs, she's not going to just let them be dognapped and not do something about it.
Hope has entered the dark world of stolen dogs: dog auctions, commercial breeding facilities, and puppy mills. After two auctions in as many years she is halfway across the country living in deplorable conditions. But here she connects with Caleb, a scrawny ten-year-old boy, whose alcoholic widower father terrorizes him and criminally neglects his 'breeder dogs'.
Alcoholic and widower! Evil incarnate! Oh wait, it's the "criminally neglects" part that is important isn't it? Focus on what's important. Leave out all the description.
Caleb is determined to save Hope when his father consigns her to yet another dog auction. An Internet search convinces him that his little white whippet is the same one that is advertised as stolen on the pretty lady’s website.
Why does he want to save her?
Caleb thinks Emily hasn’t arrived in time and tries to stop the auctioneer from taking Hope, getting beaten by his dad for his efforts. With the gavel banging, a weak Hope feels Emily’s presence and turns toward her. In horror, Emily realizes that the pathetic dog is her Hope. A dirty little boy with a blood-smeared face is screaming as loud as she is.
You've given us a synopsis of the book, not a reason to read it. You'd do well to revise this and focus on the dilemma Emily faces, not the series of events that happen. Right now this doesn't make me wonder "what happens next" because you've told me.
My time isn't any more valuable than yours.
Use this: Thank you for your time and consideration.
Better, but still a form rejection.
Remember the goal in a query letter is to entice me to read this book. Clearly it's a subject you're passionate about. Get some of that passion on the page. This is a list of events, not a siren call to the page.
Dear Query Shark,
Emily Hunt lives through her dogs. Whippets. Elegant, art deco creatures built for speed with eyes deep as God and just as knowing. Emily's youngest whippet, a little bitch named Hope, blasts into the quirky world of sighthound enthusiasts and quickly establishes her unlikely self as a star. Dogs instantly recognize Hope's extraordinary gift: humans can hear her. Humans, with their diminished capacities, are clueless.
I'm confused. (This is not a good sign) Who is the book about? Hope or Emily? Because you start with Emily and the fact that she "lives through her dogs" I'm thinking this is a story about Emily. Then it sounds like it's a story about Hope's ability to communicate with people (I"m going to forgo the Bitch Whisperer jokes here because, despite the last sentence, I don't think you're going for a sardonic tone.)
Emily lives on a secluded estate in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, passed down to her husband over generations of horsey landed gentry. Though the couple is childless, Emily has her dogs, her rescued thoroughbreds, and her friends. Her husband, Edgar Emerson Hunt, III, has a busy law practice in Washington, DC. Life is good.
This is pointless. What happens?
Hope vanishes from the yard, and Emily's world disintegrates. When a well-meaning friend says, "It's just a dog," Emily slaps her, hard. She will find her dog. It is a matter of trust.Through her searching, Emily's own past as a foster child in Baltimore is revealed.
A matter of trust? I don't understand what you mean. The dog trusts Emily to find her?
Hope survives in the seedy underworld of dog auctions, commercial kennels, and puppy mills. At the end of the end, a back yard puppy mill in Missouri where she's one of 110 dogs in a rickety garage, Hope meets Caleb, a scrawny ten-year-old boy, whose alcoholic widower father terrorizes him and criminally neglects his 'breeder dogs'. Caleb hears Hope, loves her, and is determined to save her when his father consigns her to yet another dog auction.
whoa! Missouri? Caleb? Where's Emily? What does any of this have to do with the first two paragraphs?
The dramatic conclusion gets Emily past the gun-toting guard at the auction barn just in time to not recognize Hope on the auction block. When she 'hears' her dog, she can't hear her own screams, and dismisses the vision of a dirty little boy with a fresh black eye who is screaming as loud as she is.
You're mixing show and tell here, and neither come out well. Emily doesn't recognize Hope. She can't hear her. Why is she screaming if she doesn't recognize the dog? Why is she having a vision? Do you mean she is seeing the boy?
The conclusion is relentlessly rewarding.
Please please please don't tell me how I'm supposed to respond to a book. It just makes me say "wanna bet?" SHOW me what I might find relentlessly (an odd modifier for) rewarding, instead of TELLING me.
Little Hope. The manuscript is 78,000 words.
(two paragraphs from novel redacted)
Don't include lines from the book in your query letter. Include the first 3-5 pages, at the end.
Thank you for your valuable time.
all the best-
Who is the main character? What happens to her? What choices does she need to make and what are the consequences.
Have I yammered about that enough? I guess not.
Answer those questions. That's the basis for the query letter.
People like to read about dogs. You might have a good story in here. This query letter is like an Springer Spaniel with a winter coat. It needs a bout with the clippers to spruce it up.