Sunday, March 29, 2020



1.) I know you said that mentioning my self-publishing published novels (despite the tens of books I sold) is a no-go, but honestly, those are the closest things to writing credits I have. Is having no writing credits better than pointing out my two independent novels?

Self publishing isn't a writing credit.
Writing credits are when your work is selected by someone else for publication.

Not having writing credits isn't a problem in fiction.
Having two books in three years with a total of 21 Amazon reviews however IS.

You can take them down from Amazon and not mention them in your query, OR wait to query until you get some additonal reviews up there.  More as in 50 or so.

2.) I'm cautious on if mentioning that I'm a recent college grad in my bio will help or hurt me.
Your email with a .edu suffix pretty much lets the cat out of the bag.
It's not a problem that you're a recent grad. (Also, congrats!)

Dear Query Shark:

Three years ago, the notorious rock star Jon Cameron loved slinging heroin in his veins

Slinging heroin means selling it.
At least it did the last time I looked which was when I was mainlining The Wire.
So, what you've said here is he's selling heroin in his veins.
You've pulled me out of the narrative and made me wonder if you used the wrong word, or this is some kind of weird new way to sell heroin.

In either case, pulling your reader out of the  narrative is something to be avoided at all costs.

more than he loved screaming the F-bomb on stage. That stopped the night Jon handed his brother and best friend, Carter, a needle and watched him die of an overdose. Today, Jon's sober, has quit touring with his renowned rock band, and has started a foundation in honor of Carter. No matter what he does, though, his brother's death clings to Jon like a cancer.

You can solve this entire problem by ditching the first paragraph and starting here:

Former notorious rock star Jon Cameron lJon gets an invitation from Nebulova, the electronics company that controls its billions of customers like a skilled puppeteer. The technology juggernaut is, apparently, about to revolutionize the video game industry by releasing its first virtual-reality gaming system. To flex its "reality-defying" VR system's muscles, Nebulova invites eleven celebrities to compete in a nationally broadcasted video game tournament -- the Eros Levels.

Yeah, woohoo, sounds cool and all, but what does Jon get if he wins? $10 million for the foundation he set up for his brother who died of an overdose. An overdose Jon gave him. And when Jon learns that his ex-girlfriend, the captivating R&B icon Nia Vermilion, is also invited, he can't say "yes" fast enough.

Well, at least it's not bombshell or gorgeous, or drop dead beauty, but it's damn close.
Describing female characters by their appearance is an increasing red flag. Avoid doing this.

Once Jon, Nia, and the other nine celebrities are inside the Eros Levels, Nebulova unveils its true intentions. For years, Nebulova has been using its powerful technology to secretly record everything its customers say – and think. Nebulova knows that each of the eleven celebrities has a sinister, violent, and well-hidden secret that has ruined – and ended – lives. Now, the Eros Levels will be their punishment: lose in the Eros Levels, and die in real-life. The winner gets the prize of being the only one spared.

You've revealed here what Jon's secret is. He killed his brother.
You might consider NOT revealing that here in the query.
If we don't know what Jon's secret is, you create tension. We wonder what it is, and read on to find out more.

One of the biggest problems I see is writers giving away too much, both in the query, and in the first pages of the book.  NOT knowing things builds tension, which builds interest.

Jon can either fight to win the Eros Levels – which would mean watching Nia, the only girl he's ever loved, die – or let his brother's death finally kill him.

THE EROS LEVELS (109,000 words) is a science-fiction novel complete with 109,000 words. THE EROS LEVELS  that will appeal to fans of Blake Crouch's visual writing style and Ernie Cline's creative world-building. I'm a recent college graduate that, Unlike my rock star protagonist, I do does not play guitar and scream F-bombs for a living (I only do the latter part-time). However, we both share the same inane love for Arnold Palmer drinks.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

This redirects to Facebook. It's not really a website as such.
You (and all authors) should have an actual website with your contact info, your bio, and pictures of your dog and your published works if you have them and want to mention them. Also, links to your social meda like Twitter, Instagram and/or Facebook. When I say link, I mean the icons that you click on, not a URL.