Monday, November 7, 2011

Monday Mania--Query Letter

One of our readers has submitted a query letter for critique. Please offer only constructive comments.

Critique Archive #48


Abbey Long believes her only option after shooting her mother’s boyfriend is to run away. Not only does she run away from home, her memories, and the past—but from the law as well. What Abbey doesn’t know, is she’s a schizophrenic, who hears and sees what others do not. Making her way from town to town, Abbey travels further from help and deeper into a false reality.

Inside Abbey’s troubled mind, four distinct voices are guiding her to “the real world,” a place as mysterious as Abbey's mental condition. Abbey believes the only person who will know where and what it might be is her father. After three days of travelling with extreme paranoia, Abbey truly begins to question her decisions and the companions which dwell within her head, but by then, “the real world” is just around the corner.

Abbey shows up on her father’s doorstep, only to discover that he isn’t home, and hasn’t been for some time. Then, completing Abbey’s delusion, it suddenly all makes sense. “The real world” is death, to join her father would mean to use the very gun that began the journey. A choice will have to be made, one that will change her life forever.

VOICES UNSPOKEN, my first novel, is an edgy young adult novel complete at 43,000 words.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration.




Susan said...

Just a couple of thoughts: Your book isn't long enough, I don't think. I'm pretty sure most publishers won't publish a YA book under 50,000 words. And this sounds like a serious book for older kids which, I would think, would need to be more like 70,000 words. Another thought--you probably don't want to give away that she's a schizophrenic if that's the big mystery. Your query is supposed to give away, something like the first 50 pages of your book, but not too much more.

I thought you had a great hook line, though!
Am I right, everyone?

Rebecca McKinnon said...

First, I want to say that this book sounds intriguing. You've got my interest.

43,000 words would fall into the novella category instead of novel, which is something that should be addressed here. A lot of publishers aren't willing to print those, although I've recently read a few that have been put out by a new company. Just do your research before submitting.

Take a close look at your ms and to see how far into it we are before learning that Abbey is schizophrenic. If it's the big secret of the book, you might want to take mention out of the query like Susan suggests. If we find out at the beginning, you could leave it in.

I do think you could pare this down to two paragraphs. You don't want to overload the query, just get the agent/editor hooked. This feels more like a short summary to me. The last time I was researching queries, the rule I kept coming across was that the hook paragraph should be 1-2 sentences, and the follow-through no more than 3-5 sentences. Just something to consider. (Some agents have very specific query criteria listed on their websites, so be sure to check.)

The hook is great, as is the sentence near the end about making choices.

Good luck!

Joanna said...

Love the premise. I agree with the previous posts, I'm afraid it isn't long enough. From reading the letter, you have so many interesting things going on with the story: Abbey’s different worlds (her false reality and “the real world”), the 4 voices in Abbey's head, her relationships with her mother, her mother's boyfriend and her father, that there is probably a lot you can do with your ms to flesh it out, go deeper and describe more.

As for the letter, I'm not an expert, but I have heard from more than one source that it isn't a good idea to state that this is your first novel. If you don't have any previous published works, that's okay since everyone has to start somewhere, but omit the fact.

Anonymous said...

Thank you everyone! This has helped so much and I am definitely going to add more to the story!