Dominique Hillmen thought her problems were over when she collected a multi-million dollar reward for capturing one of America’s most wanted. Instead her family falls apart, her fiancé dumps her and she loses the anonymity she was promised when she blew the killer’s cover.
This is so much better than the first versions it's amazing.
When Dominique’s ex-husband is burned to death in a house fire she believes her last enemy is finally gone. So why does she suddenly feel like she’s fighting for her life? After surviving yet another “accident” Dominique faces one hard fact: someone is trying to kill her. And that someone knows just where she is vulnerable, through her children
We know that the killer is afraid to use her kids from the first part of the sentence.
She knows of only one person willing to take revenge this far: the man she helped nab, now rotting away in jail.
In Sight is a complete mystery at 72,000 words.
It needs some polishing but it's SO much better I feel like hoisting a glass and toasting all your hard work. You really really made a breakthrough here.
I think this might be the most dramatic query turn around I've ever seen.
Dear Query Shark:
Dominique O' Shea Hillmen should be relieved to find out her ex-husband is dead. After a long and seedy (seedy is the wrong word here; it describes appearance not action) battle with him for the love of their children, she can finally lay down her weapons. But the war is far from over; her ex proves to be as much trouble dead as he was alive.
I am a featured columnist for an online newsletter and write content and design websites for local businesses and non-profits. Thank you in advance for your time.
P.S. - Ms. Reid, there is almost no way I can clear up the link between the children and the murderer without giving away the whole plot!!!! I appreciate your patience but part of my struggle is making sure the tone of the query matches the tone of the book. Much of the mystery is tied into her children being pawns, first by their father, then by the murderer out to get revenge on Dominique. I greatly appreciate your critiques and have grown so much. Here's to your continued success!
Can I slap you upside the head? This one paragraph is better than almost everything you've sent.
This happens a lot, by the way. The italic part is the basis for your query.
You are going to win an award for perseverance! I'm really proud of you, and I hope you won't give up yet. One more time, ok?
Dear Query Shark:
I am seeking representation for my novel, In Sight, a 65,000 word inspirational mystery.
Dominique O' Shea Hillmen should be relieved to find out her ex-husband is dead. After a long and seedy battle with him for the love of their children, she can finally lay down her weapons. But the war is far from over; her ex proves to be as much trouble dead as he was alive.
This is a really good paragraph.
This is telling not showing, and it's a hyperbolic.
Ok, the problem here is that it's all set up for what I think is the plot: the murderer from her past. Dominique has to repair her family or what? I still don't get the connection between the notorious murderer from her past and the description of the family.
I am a featured columnist for an online newsletter, (redacted) and write content and design websites for local businesses and non-profits. Thank you in advance for your time.
This is getting better but it's not there yet.I admire your tenacity a lot.
Dear Query Shark,
Don't open a query with a rhetorical question.
No sooner does she learn the cost of ignoring him when Keon, Dominique's ex husband, is found dead. On the day of the funeral Dominique meets her former brother in-law, Trammel, for the first time.
Just like his brother, Trammel turns out to be only too happy to rub Dominique's face in her failures. Pointing the finger of blame at her for her shady past, her abusive marriage and the current problems with her children, he challenges Dominique to remain the calm, evolved person she desperately wants to be.
But being calm won't be easy, especially when
Let's review the recipe for a good query:
Who is the main character?
What happens to her-what's her immediate problem?
What choice does s/he face?
What terrible thing will happen because of that choice?
In Sight is an inspirational novel
Thank you in advance for your time. I look forward to your response.
Start over. Cut everything I've stricken. Be concise.
Dear Query Shark:
Dominique O'Shea Hillmen is a single mother with one goal: she must get over her fiancée. Following an author's advice to put down the cocktails and dive into her pain, Dominique finds herself sober in more ways than one. What she sees with some reflection is everything she hates: desperation, neediness and whew!– a big steaming hunk of arrogance.
No sooner does she realize this when Dominique learns that her ex-husband has been found dead. On the day of the funeral her former brother-in-law, Trammel, shows up to introduce himself. Like real family, Trammel turns out to be only too happy to rub Dominique's face in her failures.
Pointing the finger of blame at her shady past, her abusive marriage and the current problems with her children, Trammel challenges Dominique to use her anger to inspire her growth instead of continuing to stunt it.
One tragedy after another soon derails Dominique's life. She is attacked on the street and one of her pets is brutally killed. Her friend is fatally injured in her car. And her youngest child, her own daughter, is hiding a hideous relationship.
This is an odd assortment of tragedies. Focus on the one you're really writing about: her youngest child.
To top it all off, the secret to Dominique's current financial success is one courageous act that exposed a multi-million dollar scam and led to the capture of a deadly, wealthy fugitive. That fugitive now faces the death penalty, and those involved in the scam are still picking up the pieces of their shattered lives.
Right here is where this query slips into full scale mess. It's time to start over. What's the problem Dominique faces? (pick ONE) Who's the antagonist (pick ONE). What choices must Dominique make? What are the stakes involved in those choices? FOCUS.
On a head-to-head collision course with an enemy who is not afraid to use even her children to destroy her, Dominique must face her two most dangerous foes: a notorious murderer who is closer than she eve imagined and her own self-destructive thinking.
There are over twenty million sex and love addicts in this country, many of whom were molested as children. There are also millions of children being molested each year. Our lack of resolve to respond to these issues both in terms of prevention and after the fact, is responsible for the dramatic increase in addiction and molestation.
My hope is that In Sight will give people, especially parents, a look at the reality too many children face. The most successful country in history must find a way to inspire in our culture a love and respect for family in general and personal responsibility specifically.
You're querying me about a novel, not an advocacy article. Focus on the STORY. If the story is compelling, you'll make your point. If you SHOW me rather than TELL me, you'll be persuasive. If you just tell me all this stuff, I won't even listen.
This query is a mess right now, but it's a better mess than the original version. When you care passionately about something as you clearly do, it's hard to channel that passion into telling a story. If you're querying me for a novel, I don't care about your issues, and hyperbole is a turn off. I DO care about a good story, and if you tell that story well enough, I will care about your issue.
Dear Query Shark:
Never start with something this hideously negative. Assume I do want to read it. Now tell me about the book.
I won't tell you to consider my work because it's brilliant and I'm irresistible (although I would hope so ☺).
Never put emoticons in a query. NEVER. For starters this is a business letter. Second, this emoticon looks like !*&&# (literally) on my screen because I work on a Mac and you don't.
I wouldn't even say my novel is ambitious. It only touches on the meaning of life, grapples with the root cause and ultimate cure for addiction and mental illness, and attempts to answer the age-old question: Why do good people have the worst luck in relationships?
I've stopped reading right here. I know you mean to be lighthearted and perhaps whimsical but I don't give a rat's patootie for that at 3am when I'm reading this. The only thing I want to know is: what is your book about?
I'm not sure I'd be able to think of someone as quirky or spunky in the same sentence as "two of her children have been locked away in institutions."
You have a very jarring mixture of tone here.
Following an author's advice to put down the cocktails and dive into her pain, Dominique begins a journey that brings her to one startling self-revelation after another, a host of insights that challenge her to see all of life from a completely new perspective. Never far from danger, or far from the ghosts of lives she has ruined, Dominique soon finds herself the target of an enemy who is not afraid to use her children or to destroy her by any means necessary. Learning to pick and choose her battles, Dominique realizes her beliefs have been her greatest nemesis, greater even than the notorious murderer who is closer than she ever imagined.
This doesn't give us any idea of what happens, or what the problem is. Be specific. Short sentences. Build the bones of the query, then add only what you need to convey clear and precise meaning.
In Sight is a modern hybrid, a mix of spiritual/literary/mystery/romance like The Shack or The Alchemist. Coming in at 228 pages and almost 65,000 words,
Never ever ever have four categories. Pick one. It doesn't have to be right; you won't be the one deciding the category anyway. Just call it fiction, or a novel.
In Sight is difficult to categorize but shares the same theme as those new-age classics: that we are our own happy ending.
I guess the notorious murderer gets locked away and the kids come home then.
Don't ever say "my name is." This is business letter. You'll put your name at the bottom of the letter above your contact info.
All the other personal information is absolutely irrelevant to whether this is a novel I want to read. Talk about the book.
Thank you for your time.
I don't have any clue what the story is here. Form rejection.