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Staff of Fools rev 2 (espionage thriller)

Fiction Crime Military/Espionage Thrillers/Suspense

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#1 Raptor

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 09:00 PM

I'd welcome your comments and feedback on this second revision of my query.
 
 
Days before the Presidential Inauguration, the Kremlin’s assassins slip into Washington.  Two White House staffers discover their only option to thwart the attack lies in the ramblings of an old man whose past, if exposed, would bring the US and Russia to the nuclear brink.
 
STAFF OF FOOLS:  SERVING IN THE SHADOWS OF AMERICAN POWER (70,000 words) is a realistic espionage thriller.  After being assigned to the shadowy National Security Council (NSC) staff, George and Natalia (FBI and CIA agents) race to stop a Kremlin-ordered assassination and social media virus.  Their failure would bring down the presidency and plunge the US into a rudderless war with Russia.  George and Natalia track down a 90-year-old man and are mystified by his apparent knowledge of the highly classified plot.  Then they realize his ramblings contain secrets of an anguished past that could thwart the assassination but doing so would expose him as the mythical figure of a conspiracy of such magnitude that it would lead to nuclear confrontation.  George and Natalia are inspiring heroes who risk everything, discover each other, and learn the reach of the NSC’s hidden hand in the arc of history.
 
STAFF OF FOOLS and its characters will appeal to readers of Jason Matthew’s “Red Sparrow” and Vince Flynn’s “Red War.”  George and Natalia are authentic and will inspire readers with their strength of character, integrity, humility, and sacrifice for country and each another.  Unknown to most Americans, the NSC staff has guided the course and speed of American power for decades and is considered to be America’s most powerful secret society.  
 
[Paragraph with personal information withheld]
 
I am sending you my query based on your firm’s representation of [insert specific language].  I am prepared to send you my manuscript, along with my competitive analysis that reflects growing public interest in the NSC in light of continuing White House turmoil.  Again, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. 

 



#2 lnloft

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Posted 10 April 2018 - 09:16 PM

 

I'd welcome your comments and feedback on this second revision of my query.
 
 
Days before the Presidential Inauguration, the Kremlin’s assassins slip into Washington.  Two White House staffers discover their only option to thwart the attack lies in the ramblings of an old man whose past, if exposed, would bring the US and Russia to the nuclear brink. This is a log line. Start with a hook.
 
STAFF OF FOOLS:  SERVING IN THE SHADOWS OF AMERICAN POWER (70,000 words) is a realistic espionage thriller. Put this at the end. After being assigned to the shadowy National Security Council (NSC) staff, George and Natalia (FBI and CIA agents) This makes it sound like both of them are both FBI and CIA, which makes no sense. Do you mean that George is FBI and Natalia is CIA? Also, in your log line you say they are White House staffers, but that's not what they sound like.race to stop a Kremlin-ordered assassination and social media virus. How do they know about this? And what the heck is a social media virus?  Their failure would bring down the presidency and plunge the US into a rudderless war with Russia. What?  George and Natalia track down a 90-year-old man and are mystified by his apparent knowledge of the highly classified plot. Why do they go to him? Right now it sounds like they flipped through the phone book and randomly selected someone and just happened to get lucky.  Then they realize his ramblings contain secrets of an anguished past that could thwart the assassination but doing so would expose him as the mythical figure of a conspiracy of such magnitude that it would lead to nuclear confrontation. What? This sentence is way too long.  George and Natalia are inspiring heroes who risk everything, discover each other, and learn the reach of the NSC’s hidden hand in the arc of history. But what are the stakes? What do the heroes want, what happens if they fail? Everything is far too vague.
 
STAFF OF FOOLS and its characters will appeal to readers of Jason Matthew’s “Red Sparrow” Inappropriate comp. Don't use anything that has been made into a movie. and Vince Flynn’s “Red War.”  George and Natalia are authentic and will inspire readers with their strength of character, integrity, humility, and sacrifice for country and each another.  Unknown to most Americans, the NSC staff has guided the course and speed of American power for decades and is considered to be America’s most powerful secret society.  
 
[Paragraph with personal information withheld]
 
I am sending you my query based on your firm’s representation of [insert specific language].  I am prepared to send you my manuscript, along with my competitive analysis that reflects growing public interest in the NSC in light of continuing White House turmoil. First of all, of course you're prepared to send your manuscript. Hence why you're querying. Second, what the heck is this "competitive analysis" stuff? I don't know what you're talking about with it, and an agent isn't going to want to read it. They just want a book that can sell. That's if. If you're offering to send this because you want to show you're an expert... Don't. Just say how you're an expert and move on.  Again, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

Sorry, this is vague and confusing. Concrete details, concrete stakes. Furthermore, I know absolutely NOTHING about George and Natalia. You always refer to them in tandem (which honestly makes it sound a little middle grade). I barely have any idea of what they're doing, and I have zero idea of why they're characters I should root for over 70,000 words. Consider writing the query from the perspective of one or the other of them, which will help you show off a bit of personality without getting things too muddled. Good luck.



#3 Raptor

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Posted 11 April 2018 - 07:18 AM

Inloft - thank you very much. Good comments and suggestions.

#4 alsilas

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Posted 12 April 2018 - 10:55 PM

 

I'd welcome your comments and feedback on this second revision of my query.
 
 
Days before the Presidential Inauguration, the Kremlin’s assassins slip into Washington.  Two White House staffers discover their only option to thwart the attack lies in the ramblings of an old man whose past, if exposed, would bring the US and Russia to the nuclear brink. (I would remove this paragraph or at least move it to the end. It's confusing at the beginning.)
 
STAFF OF FOOLS:  SERVING IN THE SHADOWS OF AMERICAN POWER (70,000 words) is a realistic espionage thriller. (This would fit better with the paragraph about who the book will appeal to.)  After being assigned to the shadowy National Security Council (NSC) staff, George and Natalia (FBI and CIA agents) race to stop a Kremlin-ordered assassination and social media virus. (How do they know about the assignation attempt? Someone else mentioned this, but what is a social media virus? Is it supposed to be a virus intended to infect computers via social media? Or is it something that's going to shut down social media? Or something else?)  Their failure would bring down the presidency and plunge the US into a rudderless war with Russia. (That's a lot of pressure on George and Natalia. Why do they have this responsibility? Where's the rest of the staff?)   George and Natalia track down a 90-year-old man and are mystified by his apparent knowledge of the highly classified plot.  Then they realize his ramblings contain secrets of an anguished past that could thwart the assassination but doing so would expose him as the mythical figure of a conspiracy of such magnitude that it would lead to nuclear confrontation. (This sounds like a damned if they do and damned if they don't situation which is compelling and would definitely draw me in. But I'm a little confused. Who's the old man? How did they find him? How does he know all this information? Are there two separate conspiracies or are they really the same one, and what role does he play?)  George and Natalia are inspiring heroes who risk everything, discover each other, and learn the reach of the NSC’s hidden hand in the arc of history. (Wouldn't two people who work for the FBI and/or CIA be aware of the role NSC plays in the current political realm and in the past? I understand they're separate bureaus, but it seems like George and Natalia would have more information about this than maybe the average joe. Otherwise, how did they end up being the two people responsible for thwarting an assassination attempt and also possible nuclear war? Maybe remove this or reword. It makes it sound like George and Natalia are newbies who just stumbled into having to save the world as opposed to FBI/CIA agents with experience.)
 
STAFF OF FOOLS and its characters will appeal to readers of Jason Matthew’s “Red Sparrow” and Vince Flynn’s “Red War.”  George and Natalia are authentic and will inspire readers with their strength of character, integrity, humility, and sacrifice for country and each another.  Unknown to most Americans, the NSC staff has guided the course and speed of American power for decades and is considered (by who?) to be America’s most powerful secret society.  (I think this is a great pitch to the agent about why your book is relevant in the current political climate - and probably any political climate. I might reword it though. Maybe something more along the lines of how your book explores the national security council and the part it has - and is - playing in American politics. Something like that.)
 
[Paragraph with personal information withheld]
 
I am sending you my query based on your firm’s representation of [insert specific language].  I am prepared to send you my manuscript, along with my competitive analysis that reflects growing public interest in the NSC in light of continuing White House turmoil.  Again, thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you. 

 

 

 

It sounds like this is going to be an interesting book, but I feel like the query is missing details. I know George and Natalia are responsible for saving the world, but I'm not sure how they're going to do it, why they're the ones who have to do it, or why they're qualified to do it, or how they found out it needed to be done. Most importantly, I'm not sure why the world needs to be saved. Why are the Russians trying to kill the American president? To start a war? To try and install someone more sympathetic to the Russians? The book is clearly going to put George and Natalia in situations with the highest of stakes, but from the query, those stakes feel superficial because it's so vague. Maybe focus on the major theme in the book (how shady the NSC is? The patriotism of George and Natalia?) and you can tighten it up a bit.



#5 Raptor

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Posted 14 April 2018 - 07:21 AM

alsilas - Excellent comments and suggestions.  Thank you very much.  I'd be happy to return the favor and review any queries of yours.  





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