Sunday, March 29, 2020

#333

Questions:

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.

Captivating.
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.


website:
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.


 

3 comments:

nightsmusic said...

Well, since I'm the first one here, I'll say this. I've watched half a dozen 'punishment' movies with this pretense so not knowing the story, I'm hoping yours is different enough to be noticed.

Beyond that, I disagree with Janet on where your query should start, and this is just me since I am but a lowly writer and not an agent. However, I would have started it here:

For years, Nebulova has been using its powerful technology to secretly record everything its customers say – and think.

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.

Former notorious rock star Jon Cameron gets an invitation as does his ex-girlfriend, the captivating R&B icon Nia Vermilion. When he learns this, he can't say "yes" fast enough.


Nebulova knows that each of the eleven celebrities has a sinister, violent, and well-hidden secret that has ruined – and ended – lives and Jon's may be the worst secret of all. 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.


Rough that, but I would start there and edit as needed. Janet is absolutely right though. Unless this is romance, romance, romance, bringing a character in by a 'stunning/beautiful/captivating' description is not good and frankly, romance is getting away from this a bit as well.

Again, I may be totally wrong on this, but I've said it before and I will again; you only have so many words to grab an agent's attention. Make the most of every single one of them.

Good luck.

Megan V said...

The Shark is correct.

Slinging is selling.

Slamming is injecting. (or shooting up if you want to go a little more old school).

If you're using it in a sentence it's just slamming, i.e. Jon loved slamming heroin.

That said, might want to reconsider slamming as Jon's preference considering that Jon's fame might make him want to avoid track marks.

We've all heard practice, practice, practice, but as writers it's also important to research, research, research (even when it might seem trivial to do so).

In any case, I'm intrigued by your concept. This feels like a cool futuristic take on And Then There Were None. Except we know the corporation is the killer. And we know what naughty thing Jon did.

I'm with the Shark on this -- I think the query might be stronger if you don't share this with us right off. I'd like to be kept guessing exactly what sinister secret he's hiding.

Frankie said...

First, I think I've seen some shows or movies regarding VR and how it was used to kill whoever took part in the experiment, but it could still be an interesting story if developed well, and I'm sure you've done that.
I agree with Janet here.
I would avoid revealing Jon's past straight away. This way you will build up curiosity in your reader.

The fact that I don't really understand what this company is trying to accomplish with that, and that I'm also not quite sure how Jon can stop this enterprise once he is lost inside the VR system, (if he actually decides to not be a puppet any longer), would definitely intrigue me (if I were an agent) enough to ask for a partial or a full.

I wish you the best of luck.