I’ve read through all your queries, and worked through a lot of the feedback from others. I have a feeling you’ve got a masterpiece of a MS, but one that’s very difficult to sell in a query. I’m guessing that the story line unfolds from the three different POV’s, with each chapter flipping from one protagonist to the next. For this subject matter, I find that hugely appealing.
I have a question. Are all three POV’s in the third-person singular, or is one of the POV’s in the first-person singular? If one POV is in the first-person singular then you really should write the query from that same POV. Meanwhile, the link hgsylvan gave you above is extremely helpful as a reference on this, suggesting you use only ONE POV for the query, as long as it’s clear the MS will have three POVs.
- Presumably, if it’s one POV then it will be Emily’s? You might like to strip out all the stuff relating to the other two girls, and just write the query from Emily’s POV (that’s what Reid is encouraging).
For titles, I prefer WHAT I NEVER NOTICED. It carries more intrigue. Meanwhile IF LIES COULD KILL doesn’t grab me. Lies can kill – we already know that. (Think espionage and corruption). Although I would ask, to whom does the ‘I’ (in What I Never Noticed) refer? The principle POV or someone else? Having said all this, I hear that 50% of the time, book titles get changed once a publishing deal is on the table. It’s rare that an agent would decline a query based on the book’s proposed title.
Here’s my critique of your latest draft below:
PERSONALISATION] I am seeking representation for IF LIES COULD KILL, a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words.
[PERSONALISATION] IF LIES COULD KILL is a YA contemporary novel complete at 74,000 words. (Put this at the bottom, before the bio paragraph. No need to say you’re seeking representation because this is a query letter so the reader knows that. Start the query with the next line below)
Three sick girls are telling lies, one of which could cost a life. Does it actually cost a life? If it does, then use ‘will’ not ‘could’ (you did in an earlier draft). You could also add in ‘teenage’ so you don’t have to spell out their ages later. And, are they / were they all at the same school? If yes, I would make that clear as well. Here’s a suggestion:
Three sick teenage classmates are telling lies, one of which will cost a life.
Fifteen-year-old Lexi started self-harming after her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood friend seemingly ditched her. And their classmate Emily began counting years ago: every single footstep. The numbers keep Emily sane, when her deepest secret threatens to send her to jail.
This can be refined. How about:
Lexi has been self-mutilating since her brother committed suicide three years ago. Alice has been starving herself since her childhood best friend ditched her. And Emily has been counting her footsteps, every single one, for longer than she can remember.
All three girls are desperate for control and their mental health conditions seem to answer that prayer – for a price. What started in their heads, now impacts every part of their lives. When Alice is removed from school and imprisoned in an anorexic treatment centre, Lexi and Emily face a sharp wakeup call. In each other, they find a friend who might understand their troubles but their friendship quickly becomes twisted by lies and deceit. Meanwhile, their classmate Alice is told she has two choices: recover or die. This seems harsh. Why will she die if she doesn’t recover? But her only focus is escape and she’ll say whatever they want to hear for a chance to regain a little control.
This paragraph needs work. It may need to change a lot if you decide to write only from one POV as well..
The truth demands a heavy price: social destruction, loss of control, even a jail sentence. But these lies could kill and they won’t just target the liar, they’ll harm those they lied to as well.
This business about the truth coming out is hard to grasp. I don’t know enough to understand why it could be socially destructive or even deliver a jail sentence. I’m getting that this is the main thing that’s at stake, but you need to steer us a bit more on why the truth coming out could prove to be so disastrous.
IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the years I suffered with anorexia and depression as a teenager and the complicated friendships I made. IF LIES COULD KILL is inspired by the complicated friendships I made during my teenage years when I suffered with anorexia and depression. It employs three points of view to (up to here is great. Find a better way to say what the three POVs do), explore mental health from the view of the sufferer, those who know they’re ill and those who’re ignorant of the problem.
This background paragraph is extremely appealing, but I think you can refine it a bit.
I hope this helps. I'm looking forward to seeing your next draft.
Thanks again for critiquing my query a few days ago!