Sunday, September 2, 2018

#320 - FTW


1.) Money is tight for me, so I can't buy new books and my library can be slow to get requests in. A CP suggested reading a summary of books so I can find comps, but that feels dishonest to me...if I don't read a book, how can I truly know it's a good comp? I thought about leaving comps out altogether, but I want to highlight my MC is an anti-hero. What's your opinion on this?

2.) I struggle heavily with depression, so I've had to take steps to protect myself from querying. I have a separate email for queries only and check it once a week, and only if I'm mentally prepared. Should I make a note in my query that my response (should I be so lucky!) may be delayed?
Dear Query Shark

Sixteen-year-old Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made her more money. Fifty bucks here and there isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and her mother’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. But when she accidentally brings her dead dog back to life instead of summoning his ghost, Katrell gets dollar signs in her eyes. Talking to the dead is one thing, but people will pay top dollar to see their loved ones again.

I really like this.

Her plan runs smoothly at first. Though the resurrected people, called Revenants, don’t eat, sleep, or breathe, they’re warm and look enough like their old selves to convince her clients to part with thousands of dollars. Good enough for Katrell.

I really like this. And the best thing: I can see how the precipitating incident will lead to trouble down the road. That's a good thing when you're able to get your reader anticipating things.

But things fall apart when the Revenants aren’t docile puppets like Katrell thought. Her clients forget their loved ones ever existed and dump them on Katrell’s doorstep. Revenants rob citizens of her town and present stolen money and jewelry to Katrell. When her first Revenant graduates from theft to murder, Katrell has a decision to make. If she stops resurrecting people, she’ll be back under the poverty line. But if she continues, the body count will keep inching higher, and the people Katrell love may end up in the crossfire.

I really like this!

WILDFIRE is a 65,000 word young adult contemporary fantasy with elements of horror. It features an all black cast and is #ownvoices for the African-American lead and struggles with poverty.

If it were possible to like this more than I did before, I do.

I’m an author from Alabama, and so far, no Revenants are stalking me. I have a BA in English Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. I was an editorial intern with (company name) Publishing for a year.

So far anyway (let's keep it that way!)

Thank you for your time and consideration.

I love this a lot. If your pages hold up, I think you'll get requests.

As to your questions: 

(1) I don't think you need comps here. However, if you want to include them, it's ok to have read summaries not the entire book.  It's not dishonest. 

(2) Whether you include this information is up to you.  Choosing when and how to reveal that you struggle with depression has no right or wrong answer. Anyone who says otherwise should be ignored.

I don't expect an instant response to a request for the full manuscript, but I'm always much happier to get the requested full sooner rather than later. In your case, I'd want it sooner cause I'd want to start reading.

I wrote a blog post about when/how to reveal personal details that may shed some light too.


Cecilia Ortiz Luna said...

I love this query.

I have never commented before here in QS even with outstanding queries but this one just rocks I had to chime in. Good job!

Lex said...

I am a Black woman and nothing on this blog has EVER excited me as much as this query.

Please send this out immediately. I can't wait to read this one day.

Francesca Strada said...

This query is fantastic! It makes me want to read the book ASAP!!
Good job!

smoketree said...

Please write back when this is published! I would love to read it.

gorgor said...

Wow. That query was awesome! I want to read this book so bad now. I can't wait.

Jess said...

I avoid horror like the plague, but dang, I would read this book.

celeste said...

Oh geez, I really want to read this too, and I'm not a horror person at all! Good luck!

rostalolman said...

This query is really great, and the book sounds fantastic! I really hope it gets published so I can read it.

Kristina said...

One suggestion on the depression thing (although I don’t know if it would help for you) is to deputize a responsible friend to check the email for you and send along a manuscript immediately if requested.

Regardless, good luck and nice job!

Sharyn Ekbergh said...

yup, that is really good!

C.M. Monson said...

Great job on the query. Excellent job on the concept! I would read this book. Well done!!!

Laina said...

Comps are the bane of my existence, and I really don't think you need them either. You sound incredibly unique.

Honestly, I only check my query email about once a week and it's been fine. I picked a day to be "Query Day" and do everything on that day (for similar reasons) and it's worked well.

gypsyharper said...

I would read this book in a heartbeat! Depression is so hard. I like Kristina's idea of deputizing a friend, if you're feeling anxious that you may miss an opportunity for not responding fast enough, but really, checking once a week is probably fine. Best of luck to you!

Wee Kay said...

I don't read much YA, but I would read this YESTERDAY. Fabulous!!!!

Lenora Rose said...

I want to read this book! And FWIW, you included the right amount of personal detail for an initial contact in your query as is. I would save explaining about depression until they're begging you for the full MS or sending you a contract.

I don't think you need a comp.

I really hope a week's lag in email is not a make or break prospect in this business. Anybody who would reject your query based only on that, after enjoying your query or sample pages, is unlikely to be someone a writer with depression wants to work with -- especially if they should be one of the agents who gets back to writers in 4-6 months.

Cari said...

I want to read this too!!

Aurora said...

If the author does want to include comps, a possible good one might be NOT EVEN BONES, by Rebecca Schaeffer. It just came out this week so it's SUPER fresh.

Iamanoldvampirechild said...

I just wanted to say you're not alone in the 'I get my books at the library and comps are a struggle' thing. I'm in the same boat and it's hard at the library as the lighting is often dim and it's hard to find what your'e looking for when there's a limited range. And, when you don't know what you're looking for, and just have a shelf in your genre with unappealing covers and blurbs - it's daunting to feel like you have to read a bunch of books that don't grab you. Esp if the books that inspired you to write in that genre are the commercially successful, 'outlier' ones, or are simply too old.

The assumption agents often say they'll have about a writer not knowing how to write in their genre is painful when you can't just download books willy nilly because even amazon ebooks are too expensive. ( I'm heartened by QS's response that you might not need them, as there being exceptions sounds sensible to me. And I know an agented author whose book got published ( book out in Oct ) without comps. If your query great maybe it's not the be all and end all.

However, for future reference, I highly recommend Twitter if you are not already on there.

I ended up finding comp titles on Twitter. If you 'follow' people you like you end up have those people, and writers retweeting books they liked and free sample links come up if the tweet and book cover catches your eye. I did that with one book, didn't think I'd like it and read free sample and loved it, then ordered it at the library. ( Thankfully they had it on the shelf! ) The comps aren't perfect but they have something I can relate to my book.

Your query is so awesome. You have something interesting and character motivation ( money ) in the first sentence!!! THEN you have voice 'fifty bucks here' 'boyfriend of the week' and THEN a twist in ( accidentally bringing dog back from the dead ) ALL in the first paragraph.! And then you don't drop the ball lol. And I love how it's sort of shady of MC to be doing what she's doing , like it's sort of a moral grey area in the beginning ( and that means she's flawed and human - relatable ) and then the plot unfolds so MC KNOWS this isn't good but and she wants to keep going anyway because she knows the money situation isn't going to change ( I can relate to this and something about the way you say things rings true in the query. Which makes sense because you mention in questions money is tight. It's like you've written about what you know...and even in fantasy I really feel like the truth of human experience woven into a book is what makes the fiction feel real.) ) but - crap! people are dying . Lol. ( Apologies for my brackets )

Hope checking emails gets easier. Hope you get published because I want to read it. The idea of people coming back from the dead and doing their own thing tickles my funny bone, and my horror marrow as well.

Virginia Ogunsile said...

Can I read this book?

Laurisa White Reyes said...

I love this too! I want to read the book.

Tyrfing Broadaxe said...

Awesome! Best of luck on your publishing career! I'll be looking for your book.

Clare said...

This sounds like an awesome book!

Brigid said...

I want to read this so badly. And I really, really want you to succeed. The plot is compelling, your voice is addictive, and it's an all-black cast? YES.

If you want to respond quickly to positive messages and don't have a friend who'd monitor your email for you, there's a free service called If This Then That. You can set up an "applet" that will text you if it receives certain types of email. If you set up a Label within Gmail that responds to words like "please send" , "pages", or revise AND resubmit, then IFTTT can take action just on new emails within that Label. This applet goes to a spreadsheet, or this other one works with Trello. This code would work with IFTTT or Google Apps Script.

All the best!

Unknown said...

I love how the query shark handled this and I thought the query was amazing. A cross between Pet Cemetery and Ghost. Wanting to do good but having it back fire. I hope the manuscript was sent and the book is as good as the query. Nice job.

James C. said...

I just have one question: when can I pre-order this book?