Saturday, August 30, 2008


Dear Query Shark:

Aside from a primal need for food, water, shelter and warmth, most of us want the same things from, security, a sense of self-worth and a modicum of success. For some, these needs are met easily while others must overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve them.

Unless you are introducing a discourse on Maslow's hierarchy of needs, this is so general as to be meaningless. It's also very obvious, and thus NOT a hook. A hook generates a response of "oh! I didn't know that, I want to know more!"

Despite a lifetime of dealing with tragedy and betrayal, four young women who are doctors, partners and friends come to terms with their troubled pasts by approaching life with faith in themselves, in God and in the power of love. Each meets the man of her dreams, all of whom must overcome difficulties of their own to be worthy of the women they love.

Again, you're bogged down in generalization. Focus on ONE person. What's her problem? What's at stake? Why will care about her?

I am seeking publication of my novel, Second Chances, a completed work of literary fiction of approximately 99,075 words. The characters and the plot were developed using descriptive language, irony, strong emotions and consistency.

My guess is that they are not. I'm guessing this because your query letter does not use descriptive language, irony, or strong emotion. I'm not sure what you mean when you say your characters and plot were developed using consistency. If you mean they are consistent, the first question I would ask is consistent with what?

The story concerns an interfaith marriage laced with anti-semitism, a marriage of convenience to facilitate an adoption, a marriage nearly destroyed by hidden guilt and a marriage surviving adultery and betrayal.

Finally here you start talking about something other than platitudes. You'd do better to start here, be specific and haul out some of that promised descriptive language.

I would appreciate the opportunity to send you a sample of my work. I look forward to your response. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Form rejection.


Lehcarjt said...

The number one thing that bugged me about this was that it is trying to be sold as literary fiction, and yet the query comes off to me as dramatic, emotional, and rather romance-novelish. A number of points from the query made me feel this way, in particular: Each meets the man of her dreams, all of whom must overcome difficulties of their own to be worthy of the women they love. Feels a little happily-ever-after for me. I think you'd be better off presenting this as women's fiction.

In addition, there isn't anything in any of the women's problems that is new or different. If anything, I'd say their life problems are kind of run-of-the-mill. said...

Sounds like an episode of Gray's Anatomy to me.

Venus Vaughn said...

It sounds like a white, christian re-write of Waiting To Exhale to me. And why, WHY didn't you slam her for being the 487,000th person to name their novel Second Chances?