Sunday, July 30, 2023



I've been querying agents for the last 6-months and have over 50 rejections. I'm not sure if my novel isn't very interesting/sellable or if my query letter is the problem. After reading the archives on your site, I did a total rework and would appreciate any feedback!



Dear QueryShark,


There are stories that never get told, but need to be. TITLE, a 92.000 upmarket women’s historical fiction tells the remarkably true stories of three generations of Italian women as they face World War II, the Fascist Movement, immigration, unexpected pregnancies, and a global pandemic. Challenging societal expectations, they experience the love, loss, and yearning for better that binds us all across generations.


Are you thinking this is a hook?

(it's not)

It's more like the start of a book review.


An effective hook gives us a sense of the problem that drives the book.


Here's the hook for All Roads Lead Me Back to You by Kennedy Foster


Hard-working, no frills Alice Andison barely scrapes by after her father's death when Domingo Rolodan, an undocumented Mexican horse and cattle man, knight in shining saddle, arrives to not only save her father's legacy but win Alice's heart if he can just steer clear of the oppressive clutches of the increasingly gestapo-like modern INS.

See the difference?

The characters have an emotional component and we see what problem they face.


Vittoria was born in a small town in Northern Italy in 1914. Growing up in the absolute poverty of a war torn country, she longs for better and isn’t afraid to take on anyone, even Mussolini himself to find it. But challenging societal norms takes unexpected turns and soon she finds herself with the broken promise of a soldier, a growing belly, and no ring.


Anna was born an illegitimate child amidst the height of World War II. Distrustful of men, yet always seeking their attention, she solicits the attention of the boy next door– the one with big dreams, who soon leaves for Canada, asking Anna to join him. She sees a chance for a new land, a new start, a new life. Who needs love when you have an opportunity?


Grace was born the child of immigrants. Trying to make something of herself, she is tired of trying and quitting a million things – including relationships. No sooner does she commit to completing her master’s degree, then she meets Jax, and everything comes together and falls apart. Suddenly, there are too many choices and one big question: How does one define “better”?


You've introduced three characters here, but there's no plot.

Plot isn't what happens. It's not the events of the book.

Plot is choices the characters face and what's at stake with those choices.

 You must have plot in a query, even if you're querying a character-driven book.


You also don't tell us how these women are connected. (Are they?)

Three generations makes me think they're related to each other, but that's not obvious from the query.


Also, by introducing all three characters equally, you can't focus on the start of the story.


If the story begins with Vittoria, let's give her more page time. If the story starts with one of the other two, lead with her, give her more page time.


You have a limited amount of space here to engage your reader. Focus on how the story starts.


 Vittoria (or whomever) wants to (what?)

BUT, (problem) prevents her.

Now she must (choose a path.)

Get that on the page first.

Then show how the characters are linked.

You do NOT need the details of  Anna and Grace, unless one of them is the main character, not Vittoria.


TITLE would be the love child of

Resist the urge to be clever with comps.

Just say your book will appeal to readers who liked:


Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson,


Untamed by Glennon Doyle,

This is a memoir. Don't use NF as a comp for a novel, even historical fiction.



What We Carry: A Memoir by Maya Shanbhag Lang,

also a memoir



and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.

This was pubbed in 2017 so it's too old to be an effective comp.


If you take a look at the Amazon description of Sisters in Arms by Kaia Alderson, you'll see there is conflict and tension (which is what you need in the query)


Grace Steele and Eliza Jones may be from completely different backgrounds, but when it comes to the army, specifically the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC), they are both starting from the same level. Not only will they be among the first class of female officers the army has even seen, they are also the first Black women allowed to serve.


As these courageous women help to form the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, they are dealing with more than just army bureaucracy—everyone is determined to see this experiment fail. For two northern women, learning to navigate their way through the segregated army may be tougher than boot camp. Grace and Eliza know that there is no room for error; they must be more perfect than everyone else.


When they finally make it overseas, to England and then France, Grace and Eliza will at last be able to do their parts for the country they love, whatever the risk to themselves.




A melding of immigration, identity,


I have my master’s in English with an emphasis in Technical Writing, and currently work as a content creator and SEO specialist. When I’m not working or writing you can find me reading a million children’s books to my one and two year old sons (or removing whatever object they’ve found to turn into a sword). I’m passionate about telling untold stories in literature, the stories that make us feel like we aren’t alone.



I am querying you because (whatever).


 Thank you for your time and consideration of my submission.


Best regards,

You only need one closing.





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