Sunday, May 7, 2017


1) Initially I had more words dedicated to each section, but worried it’d be nothing but loglines and you’d eat me alive. Is focusing extensively on the first two parts the right way to go, or do I need to diminish them to slightly flesh out the other parts?
2) The "alliances form" paragraph describes events in the last ~10% of the novel. Since each part has its own arc and stakes, is it cheating to use the end of the book like this?

Dear QueryShark,

Abbi Abrams loves hunting demons. She also sucks at it. She's fired for letting a couchtar escape (a couch-human centaur, by the way). In drunken woe, Abbi quite literally falls into a clutch of demon eggs (apocalyptically bad, by the way). Abbi fears she's a mediocre screwup, but she's also the only one who can stop a demonic conspiracy from obliterating her town.

We cross the universe.

Oasa scours the cosmos, finding the last piece of her mother's crown in the claws of an old friend. He asks a favor: transport the son of the alien zealot who butchered Oasa's mother. Oasa reluctantly agrees, but so-called allies betray them. She flees, desperately seeking the human homeworld of legend. Instead, Oasa unearths the horrifying origin of her royal lineage.

We travel onward.

A self-loathing scientist chases a serial killer across time.
A lovelorn angel escorts a woman through demon country.
A British mother discovers the sorcerer shopkeeper in her neighborhood.
A C.I.A. agent hunts her terrorist ex-boyfriend.
A friendless tween survives an island of monsters.
A vengeful synthetic liberates his people.

Alliances form. Enemies are made. A bloody battle ensues. And when the negotiations begin, these eight must figure out how to save the world from each other, and how to make the world a place worth saving.

LEGENDS is my first novel, a genre-blending episodic adventure. At 176,000 words, LEGENDS is The Avengers without superheroes, Bone Clocks with more punching.

Thank you for your time and consideration.


The hell with the critique, send the manuscript toot sweet. (ok, I know it's tout suite) This query breaks almost every rule in the book. It also works. Why? Well for starters, the voice. It's vibrant. It's fun. It's enticing.

And there's a couchtar. How would I NOT read a book with a couchtar?
And yes, I know the author made that up, but still, it's hilarious.

And then there's the phrase "mediocre screwup" which made me laugh out loud.

At this point, I'm unplugging my laptop and carrying it out of my office and getting second reads on the query from my colleagues here.

And yes, they all thought it was funny and charming.

And of course, too long by a wide margin, but that STILL didn't stop us from wanting to read it.
It did make us demand a synopsis with the manuscript, but the key information here is WE WANTED TO READ A 176K novel!

Never let anyone tell you that 176K is a deal breaker. It may be to some (lesser) agents, but here at The Reef we sneer at such things. I'd rather pare something down than not have enough story.

This query works.

Now to answer your questions, cause even though I've already demanded you send me the full, you will KEEP QUERYING.

(1) Focusing on two is fine. I'm assuming these two are the characters who first appear in the book. It will help if they appear in the order they do in the query too. That means Abbi first, Oasa second.  If I start reading pages and neither Abbi nor Oasa appear fairly quickly, I'll probably start skimming to find them.

(2) It's fine to use it. And it would wreck the rhythm here if you didn't. Write what works, even if "the rules" say otherwise.

Did  I mention send this ASAP enough?


Brigid said...

"And when the negotiations begin, these eight must figure out how to save the world from each other, and how to make the world a place worth saving." That's a hell of an appealing line right there, mate. Nicely done.

Also, a protag who lets a couchtar get away. I have to read this.

Brittany Constable said...

I stumbled a bit on the two "by the way"s in such close proximity. Three is a confirmed joke, two just looks clumsy. And in the first paragraph, that might hurt you.

But even despite that, it's still something I'd want to read. The voice feels both epic and salty, which is a tricky combination.

Gypmar said...

Bone Clocks with more punching?! 😂 This is maybe the second query on this site that I wish I had written myself. Can't wait to read the book someday!

Colin Smith said...

In all honesty, if this query had been sent to me for a critique, I'd have whittled it down, got rid of the list, and probably sucked some of the life out of it to make it what I think agents look for in a query. Which is why Query Shark is so valuable.

All the best to you, OP! :)

Lennon Faris said...

Wow, I've known couchtars before! just never knew what to call them :D Sounds like a fun read.

The rhythm in my head also suggested a third 'by the way' farther on in the query, if it could be made into something super funny. Or maybe leave out that phrase altogether?

Congrats OP on a great query.

Theresa said...

Wow, wow, wow! As if the whole query wasn't great enough, then the phrase Bone Clocks with more punching.

I hope you land your dream agent.

DLM said...

In fact, tout de suite, non, Madame?

Those first two sentences are pretty great. It's fascinating to me, though, that the alliances form in the final pages of the novel. I guess that would hark to the "episodic" point - that this is an introductory adventure in a series? And Brittany, I agree on two "by the way"s in a row. But yeah, this is a grabber.

Congratulations, OP!

abnormalalien (Jamie A. Elias) said...

I stumbled a bit at the line, "We cross the universe." But even so, I loved the voice of the first paragraph enough to keep going. Sounds like a lot of interesting material all rolled into one epic story.

Lori said...

I want to read this.

araminty said...

Although this query is great fun, the first thing that struck me was the name of the protag -- Abbi Abrams is also the name of one of the main characters in Broad City. So I pictured this whole thing as starring Abbi Jacobson, which was AMAZING.

Dani Nosek said...

I laughed out loud at the couchtar. It wasn't anything I thought a query *should* look like, but I love the voice.

Catherine Skinner said...

This book sounds amazing. Did it get published? I'd love to read it!

Anais said...

I want to see an artist's rendition of a couchtar. I just have to buy the book when it hits the stands.

Farhad said...

Would love to read this book when it finally hits the stands! Any updates from the author, or any other similar works in progress?