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Authors Seeking FREE Betas > NEED QUICK THOUGHTS ON QUERY LETTER

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Weil ANY FEEDBACK MUCH APPRECIATED:
According to your agency’s website you are looking for … and I am happy to introduce you to Black Lamb, my 88k word off-beat paranormal thriller, set in England’s early 1990’s.
Sam Gold sees what few others can, the dead, in this case taking the form of Emily, the murdered cousin of Lady Sophie Howsley, a woman he still loves, but is reluctant to help. He knows if he enters that world again, a world he’s avoided for four years, he may not survive the ordeal.
Sam throws himself into his work, the business of supplying the city of Leeds with the finest pot available. Sam Gold is the dealer’s dealer, the middleman who connects street dealers with suppliers.
In an effort to forget Sophie's incursion into his life, he begins a tumultuous relationship with the beautifully dangerous, Claire LaRock, who is enamored with Sam, even when his dark side bleeds into her life.
But Sam realizes he must help Sophie, as there will be no peace from the dead until he brings them justice or joins them; whichever comes first. Sam is aided by his loyal driver and bodyguard, Duncan Craig; a Scottish ex-elite soldier whose idea for fun is a fight to the death against uneven odds. Forced to play detective once more and access the veiled world of the dead, Sam discovers his own hidden heritage is connected to the very murder he’s investigating, a murder that draws them into the mystery of an ancient British organization. When Sam’s biological father dies, a man he’s never met, the true scope of the horror is revealed, as well as that the roots of ‘The Order of The Black Lamb’.
Sam longs for a life with Lady Sophie, but demands that seem impossible to comply with stand in is way, threatening everything he holds dear. To combat these threats, Sam must skirt the very edge of his limits and beyond, as he immerses himself where no mortal should—within the realm of the dead.
As Sam turns his back on his business, his jilted lover, Claire LaRock, now runs the city’s drug trade and threatens to destroy the lives of his friends. Fresh from his battle with Black Lamb, he must now walk into new, more mortal dangers.
Endowed with fresh knowledge of his ancestry, how long will he let the dead hold him hostage for justice? This is only the beginning.
I am a British writer living in upstate New York. Elements of this story are autobiographical. I plan this novel to be the first in a series featuring the recurring central characters.
Thank you for your time. I have included … and look forward to hearing from you.


message 2: by Manavv (new)

Manavv (authormanav) | 7 comments Dear Paul,

Thanks a ton for the reply and showing interest in my work.

Seeing your advice, please tell me how can I share my first chapters for your read/reviews/suggestions/comments.

Please tell me how could I share the chapters with you.

Thanks,

Manav


message 3: by Danielle (new)

Danielle | 125 comments Maybe I'm wrong but I think you only want to share a short and sweet synopsis with an agent. I think you might be going into a little too much detail.

Sam Gold sees what few others can, the dead, in this case taking the form of Emily, the murdered cousin of Lady Sophie Howsley, a woman he still loves, but is reluctant to help. He knows if he enters that world again, a world he’s avoided for four years, he may not survive the ordeal.
This here was also a little confusing to me when I first read it. It sounds like he is taking the form of a woman. But I'm assuming he is only seeing this woman?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Paul! If you're looking for critiques on your query letter, there's a great forum when you can post it and have others comment: http://agentqueryconnect.com/ . I just found it myself!


message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Weil Thanks. I think you are correct,


message 6: by Brandi (new)

Brandi (theprincessb) | 13 comments Hi! I just looked at the word count quickly. It seems pretty long at over 450. Maybe try to stick to the central elements with stakes included. Here's what stakes are: "putting cliché terms in place of specific details about the story. Cliché terms like dangerous situation, family secret, dark troubles, deadly danger and so on. That tells me something is happening, but really leaves me groping for what. It was like having parts of a puzzle, but being left to fill them in myself."

http://www.michelle4laughs.com/2014/0...

Worth a bit of thought, I think! :)

Also, ensure you capitalize your title--BLACK LAMB.


message 7: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (booksteainsanity) Hi, Paul! I looked over your query, and left a few suggestions. Most of them are bolded. Please let me know if you have questions about any of them.

According to your agency’s website you are looking for … and I am happy to introduce you to BLACK LAMB, my 88k word off-beat paranormal thriller, set in England’s early 1990s. (Most of the query letters I’ve seen put this info at the end and start with the hook, which, in your case, would be the next paragraph [the one after this one]. I’d recommend doing the same.)


Sam Gold sees what few others can,:* the dead. , in this case taking the form ofThis time, it’s someone named Emily, the murdered cousin of Lady Sophie Howsley—a woman heSam** still loves, but is reluctant to help. He knows if he enters that world again, a world he’s avoided for four years, he may not survive the ordeal.

Sam throws himself into his work, the business of supplying the city of Leeds with the finest pot available. Sam Gold is the dealer’s dealer, the middleman who connects street dealers with suppliers. (If you need this info at all, I don’t think you should put it here. You’ve mentioned Lady Sophie, so you shouldn’t drop any mention of her right now, seeing as the paragraph after this goes back to her. The transition would be smoother if you just cut this paragraph and transitioned to the next one.)

In an effort to forget Sophie's incursion into his life, he throws himself into his pot-dealing job*** and begins a tumultuous relationship with the beautifully dangerous, Claire LaRock, who is enamored with Sam, even when his dark side bleeds into her life.

But Sam realizes he must help Sophie, as there will be no peace from the dead until he brings them justice or joins them; whichever comes first. Sam is aAided by his loyal driver and bodyguard, a Scottish ex-elite solider named Duncan Craig; a Scottish ex-elite soldier whose idea for fun is a fight to the death against uneven odds.****, Sam is forced to play detective once more and access the veiled world of the dead. In doing so, Sam discovers his own hidden***** heritage is connected to the very murder he’s investigating, a murder that draws them into the mystery of an ancient British organization (I’d name the organization here, even if it’s in the next sentence. That way the title of your novel makes more sense.) When Sam’s biological father dies, a man he’s never met, the true scope of the horror is revealed, as well as that the roots of The Order of The Black Lamb.******

Sam longs for a life with Lady Sophie, but demands that seem impossible to comply with stand in is way, threatening everything he holds dear. To combat these threats, Sam must skirt the very edge of his limits and beyond, as he immerses himself where no mortal should—within the realm of the dead. (You’ve basically already stated all of this in the previous paragraph; there’s no need to mention it again. Getting rid of this would also make your query letter shorter, which is always a help.)

As Sam turns his back on his business, his jilted lover, Claire LaRock, now runs the city’s drug trade and threatens to destroy the lives of his friends. Fresh from his battle with Black Lamb, he must now walk into new, more mortal dangers. (Is the focus of your novel solving the murder mystery with the dead, or dealing with Claire? If it’s the former, get rid of this paragraph. People will be reading your book for a good paranormal mystery, not for your protagonist’s girl problems. That doesn’t mean it can’t be in the novel; it just means that it’s unnecessary to mention this in the blurb.)

Endowed with fresh knowledge of his ancestry, how long will he let the dead hold him hostage for justice? This is only the beginning.

Here is where you would put: According to your agency’s website you are looking for …, etc. Only, I’d word it this way: Black Lamb is an 88k off-beat paranormal thriller, set in England’s early 1990’s. According to your agency’s website, you are looking for…, and *insert reason why your novel fits their requirements*

Another paragraph break, and then:


I am a British writer living in upstate New York. Elements of this story are autobiographical. I plan t This novel to be is the first in a hopefulseries featuring the recurring central characters.

Thank you for your time. I have included … and look forward to hearing from you.

And I think you’re good to go other than that! I’ve never actually written a query letter, but I’ve read up on writing them extensively. (I know how hard it can be, hahaha.) Hope this helped!

Additional notes
* : Having a colon instead of a comma helps this sentence flow better. Also, I think it’s grammatically correct. On that note, make sure to way out for incorrect punctuation (extra/stray commas, comma splices, run-on sentences, etc.). All it take is one mistake for an agent to stop reading your letter.
** : With two other people mentioned in this sentence beside your protagonist, using his name instead of a pronoun would just make the sentence clearer.
*** : I figured this would be a smoother way to include this info without having to devote an entire paragraph to it. Then you can keep the focus of your query where it belongs: on the paranormal happenings of your character’s life.
**** : We don’t need this much detail about your MC’s driver; he’s only a side character.
***** : This wording is confusing. Why is his heritage hidden? Would “mysterious heritage” be a better way to word this?
****** : You don’t need the apostrophes surrounding the name of the organization. Also, if you mention the name in the previous sentence like I suggested, switch out the title here for the ancient British organization.


message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Weil Thanks so much for all of your help with this. I think you are spot on with your assessment.


message 9: by Kelley (new)

Kelley | 45 comments I'm going to go with the pack here and suggest condensing this. There's just too much information to wrap my mind around the main story and that's all an agent wants to do at this point. Try focusing on the Who's the MC? What does he think he wants? How he plans to get it? What gets in his way (not ever single plot point just a couple juicy ones summed up short and sweet like Brandi suggested above)? Also what's at stake for him if he doesn't get what he thinks he wants (make the reader care/connect with him)? And because it's paranormal definitely include some detail about the MC's world.

While condensing, I'd also edit out passive voice (is, was, etc). For example, I'd reword a sentence like this one: Forced to play detective once more and access the veiled world of the dead, Sam discovers his own hidden heritage is connected to the very murder he’s investigating, a murder that draws them into the mystery of an ancient British organization.

to read like so:

While accessing the veiled world of the dead, Sam discovers his own hidden heritage connects him to the murder, drawing him deeper into the mystery of an ancient British organization.

Do you see what I'm getting at? Sticking with the active voice throughout not only makes the MC appear more active, but also uses less words. (I took some liberty in assuming that Sam's connected to the actual murder of Sophie's cousin as well as investigating it. If that's not the case then I might add "the murder he’s investigating" back in.)

I hope that helps. Best of luck!


message 10: by Paul (new)

Paul Weil Thanks Kelly. big help...


message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Weil I have condensed it down to its essence:

According to your agency’s website you are looking for mysteries and thrillers, and I am happy to introduce you to BLACK LAMB, my 88k word off-beat paranormal thriller, set in England in the early 1990’s.
Sam Gold sees what few others can: the dead, always young women, always killed violently. For four years, he has kept them at bay behind a haze of alcohol and the bustle of the Leeds drug trade. But when the beautiful Lady Sophie Howsley reappears in his life, trailing the ghost of her murdered cousin Emily, Sam knows he can’t turn his back on the dead until he brings them justice or joins them; whichever comes first.
Forced to play detective once more as he dives into the veiled world of the dead, Sam is aided by his loyal driver and bodyguard, Duncan Craig, a Scottish ex-elite soldier whose idea of fun is a fight to the death against uneven odds. With Duncan at his back and the ghost of murdered Emily at his side, Sam finds that uncovering the truth will mean defying the ancient organization, ‘The Order of The Black Lamb’, as well as his own family demons.
I am a British writer living in upstate New York. Elements of this story are autobiographical. I plan this novel to be the first in a series featuring the recurring central characters.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.


message 12: by Juan (last edited Jul 08, 2016 10:46PM) (new)

Juan Zapata | 66 comments Paul, there's a woman on Fiverr named Precyl. She is an agented author and can critique your query letter.

It only costs $5 and is well worth the money. I hired her myself. If you're interested in giving her a shot, here's a link:

https://www.fiverr.com/precyl/polish-...


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