I excited and nervous to share my query letter for critique. I will appreciate all of the constructive criticism and I thank you in advance.
May 26, 2019
Dear Ms. ,
Have you ever gotten the shivers and then looked around you wondering where they came from? Rhetorical questions are a big no-no in queries. Starting with one is tantamount to query suicide.
I am currently seeking representation for my complete 86,500-word novel,
“Twin Shivers,” TWIN SHIVERS [just put your title in all-caps] and after reading through your agency website, I think we can be a great fit. My novel is a suspense/thriller/fantasy with a sci-fi kick that will appeal to young adults as well as adults Ah, genre overload. This doesn't make it seem like your book has a wide-ranging appeal; it makes it seem like you don't know where it belongs on a bookshelf. Pick one or maybe two if you really have to, and then commit to either YA or adult. What you've just described may be true of your book, but think about it this way: an agent is going to want to market your book, and that means they want to know where to put it in the bookstore. There's not a suspense/thriller/fantasy with a bit of sci-fi for young adults and adults shelf. So, first, is it going to go in the YA section, or the adult section? And then what subset shelf is it going to fit in there? That's what you need. Short and sweet on the genre. who want the suspense and intensity of a great book ! Okay, personal pet peeve, but I hate exclamation points with a burning passion. I feel it has a Dean Koontz He's a bit too big of a name to use as a comp. semblance with my own writing flair.
Twin Shivers is a gut-wrenching story about a woman traveling through worlds desperately trying to get back to her family and her life that was stolen! This line is unnecessary. Don't tell us what the story is about, just jump into the query and show us.
Piper Lee Willow loves her life. She is a confident career woman with a loving and devoted family. Need a snappier hook. Something that grabs the attention right off the bat. Why should I care about a happy protagonist with no problems? Doesn't seem to be much of a story in that. And I know you do that to set up how it falls apart later, but by that point it's too late. Agents might only read as far into your query until they lose interest. So you need to grab them straight away. Enter - another Piper Lee Willow – from another world. Why are there dashes (okay, a hyphen and a dash) around the name? That's not how dashes work. Same husband, same kids, same grandkids [no space in grandkids]…except this Piper also has a set of twins
! Not being able to resist meeting her twins, Piper heads to the other world through a magical pond with a portal only to find tragedy. Her life plummeted into a nightmare on top of learning that there were never any twins ! What? I have no idea what is happening right now. There were twins (but that meant nothing to me because I didn't know Piper didn't have twins, if that makes sense), but there were actually no twins. And what nightmare is her life now in? Specifics are so key in queries. Also, even if I didn't have exclamation points, you've definitely overused them by this point.
Her endeavor to get back to her world was not as easy as she had hoped. She couldn’t seem to find the right one. During her travels, she was beaten, stabbed and thrown into a
Mmental Iinstitution, all in different worlds. Piper did make it back to her world and there was a struggle between the two Pipers. The “evil” Piper got stuck in the portal as it shrunk around her. Did she make it out alive? Will she come back? I am so confused. What is happening in the story? Since when has the other Piper been "evil" (and why is "evil" in quotations)? Not to mention that you've shifted tense: this should still be present tense. And you end with another pair of rhetorical questions.
I love writing. It is a wonderful and satisfying passion for me as well. This story started out as the most vivid and lengthy dream I have ever had. The inspiration to write was not an option, but an obsession. The story just flowed right through me. I am so excited to share it! Sorry, agents don't care.
I have been thoughtful in trying to compare with other similar books about portal travel. One is “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman where she travels to a worse world. Another book is a murderous portal traveler called, “The Shining Girls” by Lauren Buekes. This information should go in the same paragraph where you introduce title, genre, and word count. Just phrase it as something like: TWIN SHIVERS will appeal to fans of... But also, I'm afraid Coraline is not a good comp, simply because it has been made into a movie. You want to keep comps recent (I've heard varying accounts from within the last three to five years), things that are not ridiculously popular, and things that have not been adapted into movies or TV. The reason to keep things recent is to show you understand the current market, and the popularity and adaptation thing is to show that you actually read the genre you're talking about. Like if someone uses Harry Potter as their comp, it makes you wonder if they've read any YA fantasy other than HP.
I am currently outlining the sequel to “Twin Shivers”. Can TWIN SHIVERS be a stand-alone novel? If yes, great, then just say, in the same paragraph as you have title and word count, that it has "series potential". If it can't stand alone, if it requires the sequel to have resolution, then go back to your manuscript, revise it so that it stands alone, and then say it has "series potential". Agents don't know how well your book is going to sell. If it makes money, then they'll be happy to build off that success and get the sequel off and running. If it does poorly, then they won't want to waste the money publishing the sequel, and then the people who actually read your book are going to be upset because they will have a story with no resolution.
Thank you in advance for reading my work and considering representation. I have included the first 10 pages and synopsis per your submission guidelines.
I did not include the prologue but will be happy to forward upon request.
Sheri L. Strobaugh