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Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Query Feedback- Contemporary Adult fiction

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message 1: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Hello, I would love to hear some query feedback on my contemporary adult fictional novel The Terrorist.

Dear X,

Finding out that many of the people around you are CIA agents, and that the FBI considers you a terrorist isn't fun, just ask James Longo. James woke up to knocking at his door at 3 in the morning, only to check his phone to see that the FBI was publicly declaring him a terrorist, and that the person at the door was Eleanor, his attractive neighbor that he had a crush on. Unfortunately, her shirt was also covered in blood.
Next thing he knew, James was kidnapped by Eleanor, and finds out that Eleanor was a CIA agent. The CIA had been watching him for months because his old AOL messenger profile had been communicating with the terrorist group BICES. The FBI, against the CIA's wishes, wants him to meet with BICES officials, and hopefully help take them down. The whole mission sounds haphazard to James, but he begrudgingly agrees.
Predictably, the operation fails, and exposes a much larger conspiracy between high ranking government officials, and BICES. To rescue James, it falls to the relentless and licensed actuary Eleanor to lead a squad that consists of two bickering scientists in Team JJ, and the silent mysterious duo of Dimitri and Ivor.
The Terrorist is a 80,000 word adult contemporary novel that is written with a quirky humorous tone reminiscent of Spoonbenders and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise. As for myself, I am a college senior with too much time on his hands, who has always enjoyed writing including self-publishing the children's book Chow the Cow and the New Cow in Town when I was 16. Although admittedly inexperienced compared to the average author, I feel my youth gives me a fresher perspective on modern life, and my comedic outlook allows me to examine some of the absurdity surrounding a heavy topic in terrorism.
Thank you for taking the time to read my query.

Sincerely,
Andrew Nunno


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments First, it's very important that you remove all formatting before you send your query, as many email editors will change the formatting to remove spaces between paragraphs, like the browser did for me looking at your blurb, turning it into one solid block of text (i.e., you need extra, blank lines between paragraphs).

Second, your blurb is a little long at 204 words and could use some streamlining. I'm not sold on your opening sentence and suggest you start with the second. Did James wake up before the novel starts, or did he wake within the pages? Blurbs (and synopsis) are written in present-tense, no matter what the body of the novel is written, so if he woke up during the novel then the sentence would read "James wakes up to knocking..."

For me, "Predictably, the operation fails" doesn't work. You could say instead, "As James predicted..." instead. The former sounds like an omniscient narrator giving commentary. If that is, indeed, your writing style, then it might work to give the reader an idea of what they're getting into. It also might be a good idea to specifically mention that in your query.

I feel quite sure that everything about your background will benefit by being removed. No one is impressed by self published novels, unless they reach the best seller list. Self deprecation can be amusing in the right place, but an agent/publisher is making a substantial gamble even asking for your MS, so you don't need to give them any reason to feel they'd be wasting their time reading yours.

You've not left any room for personalization. Just one or two sentences are necessary, and they only serve to demonstrate that you've actually researched that your novel is a fit for the agent/publisher.

Good luck!


message 3: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Thank you so much for the feedback. The one question I have is when they ask for author bio, and I don't have any credentials what is a good thing to say? I will be attending medical school in the upcoming fall, but I don't really feel like mentioning that is helpful in this case.


message 4: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments If you have no meaningful writing credits (conventionally published or very well selling self published) then offer nothing. If there is something about your background that adds to your story (e.g., you're a forensic scientist writing mysteries), then add that.

The only point of the query is to get an MS request. If they then like your MS, so I've read, the very next thing they are going to do is Google your name, so establishing a social media presence around your authorship is important. Best to start that sooner rather than later, as it can take a while to establish a viable presence.

Assuming they like your MS and decide to take the gamble on you, that's likely when they'll care about your unique background and will want the details so they can decide how to market you as an author.


message 5: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Thanks again for the help. Here is a possible revised query, I would be curious to hear if this is more on track.

Dear X,

Knock! Knock! Knock! James wakes up, looks at his phone and sees that the FBI is declaring him a terrorist. Carefully, he tip-toes to the door only to see Eleanor, his attractive neighbor, on the other side with her shirt smeared with blood.

James is kidnapped by Eleanor, who is actually a CIA agent. He finds out that the CIA has been watching him for months because his old AOL messenger profile had been communicating with the terrorist group BICES. James is taken to a meeting with the FBI who lay out a plan for him to meet with BICES officials. James begrudgingly agrees.

The mission fails, revealing a large conspiracy between BICES and high-ranking government officials. To rescue James, Eleanor leads a squad that consists of two bickering scientists in Team JJ, and the silent mysterious duo of Dimitri and Ivor.

The Terrorist is a 80,000 word adult contemporary novel that is written with a quirky humorous tone reminiscent of Spoonbenders and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise.

Thank you for taking the time to read my query.

Sincerely,
Andrew Nunno


message 6: by Em__Jay (new)

Em__Jay Your first paragraph does not ring true to me. If someone is knocking on my door then the last thing I would be doing before heading to the door is checking my phone and reading/researching whatever is necessary to come to the conclusion I am a wanted person. Further, why is it necessary to know that James thinks Eleanor is attractive.

I also think paragraphs two and three could be rewritten to convey a greater sense of suspense and anticipation. Currently, they read like a list of events that take place.


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I think something like "who he has a crush on" as opposed to "his attractive neighbor" is better. I agree with Em__Jay that someone pausing to check their phone on the way to answering the door seems unrealistic, but perhaps I'm (we're) too old.

I also agree that you could up the tension. I tried reworking it, but am confused how a CIA kidnapped James winds up in the hands of the FBI. While the CIA can't arrest anyone legally, it's probably better to use that term than kidnap, as that smooths the transition to the FBI.

Don't name people who only show up once (e.g., Dimitri and Ivor), use their function names instead (e.g., goons, muscle, bodyguards, etc.). The story seems to be about James and Eleanor, the blurb should focus on them.


message 8: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Thank you again for the feedback. I may have misrepresented some of the story, which is why the phone thing seemed confusing. It's the middle of the night, and he hears some knocking at the door that wakes him up so he checks his phone to see what time it is. The news alerts are already popped up on his home phone screen so he doesn't have to log in to see them or do any research. Also, the story isn't really that focused on just James and Eleanor which I realized is how I present it in the blurb

I tried to revise it this time by pulling a quote from part of the story, and cutting down on some of the details.


message 9: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Here is the 3rd version:

Dear X,

"I, James Longo the Oakland Bomber, have enjoyed a fruitful, and enjoyable partnership with BICES," I said while my voice wavered, "BICES has given me a place where I can express my beliefs openly, and enabled me to act upon them….Make today a turning point, and join BICES. You'll be happy you did, I know I am."

James Longo is living comfortably as a 27-year-old pharmacist until a whirlwind of events occurs that begins with him being part of a government operation to infiltrate the terrorist group BICES and ends with BICES apprehending and using him as their spokesman. During captivity, James discovers that he is at the center of a large conspiracy involving high ranking government officials and BICES. However, James feels that such knowledge is useless for he has no means of escape, and all he can think to do is hope that the rest of the mission's crew can find him.

The Terrorist is a 80,000 word adult spy thriller written with a humorous tone reminiscent of Spoonbenders and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise.

Thank you for taking the time to read my query.


message 10: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Very different! The second paragraph reads stilted to me. Perhaps if you continued the conversational theme it might read better. Also, you'll want to break it up visually.

I recall during my research that dialog in your blurb is considered a 'bad thing,' that is, unless it is the perfect thing. If you're going to go this way, I highly recommend you start with this:

"The Terrorist is a 80,000 word adult contemporary novel that is written with a quirky humorous tone reminiscent of Spoonbenders and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise."

That should make it clear the dialog is part of the blurb and sets the expectations.


message 11: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Thank you again for the advice. I know you mentioned the thing about dialog being a 'bad thing' but do you think this quote works. Here is the Query I enjoyed writing most:

The Terrorist is a 80,000 word adult spy thriller written with a humorous tone reminiscent of Spoonbenders and The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise.

"I, James Longo the Oakland Bomber, have enjoyed a fruitful, and enjoyable partnership with BICES," I said while my voice wavered, "BICES has given me a place where I can express my beliefs openly, and enabled me to act upon them….Make today a turning point, and join BICES. You'll be happy you did, I know I am."

If you are wondering, yes BICES is a terrorist group, but no I'm not actually a terrorist, I'm just their spokesman. I prefer my regular job as a pharmacist, but when the government asks you to be part of an operation to take down BICES it is hard to say no. Unfortunately, the whole mission was a fraud, and now here I am, a captive of BICES, saying whatever they ask me to say.

All I need to escape is for the rest of the crew to find me, get past the people with guns, and dismantle a large conspiracy between high-ranking government officials and BICES. That shouldn't be too hard, should it?

Thank you for taking the time to read my query.


message 12: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Though I wonder if it is more practical for the final two paragraphs to be this instead:

James hates saying every word of his promotion for BICES. He wishes he could be back working at the pharmacy, but he knows even now that he never would've been able to say no to the government when they asked him to take part in an operation to take down BICES.

Lamenting on the mission's failure, James struggles to comprehend that he was being held captive by BICES and forced to be their spokesman all because of a large conspiracy between BICES and high-ranking government officials. He hopes that somehow the rest of the crew can find him, get past the people with guns, and escape alive. How hard can that be?


message 13: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I like the earlier one better (where the MC is speaking). I assume that's the tone of the book? If so, then the reader of the blurb gets a good flavor of the style. I tightened it up a bit; take whatever you like:



"I, James Longo, the Oakland Bomber, have enjoyed a fruitful, and enjoyable partnership with BICES," I said, while my voice quavered. "BICES is a place where I can express my beliefs openly and act upon them….Make today a turning point and join BICES. You'll be happy you did. I know I am."

Yes BICES is a terrorist group. But I'm not actually a terrorist. I'm their spokesman. I was a pharmacist, but the government asked me to help take down BICES. I wanted to say no, but they were persuasive. With guns. The mission turned out to be a fraud. Now I’m a captive of BICES; their mouthpiece.

All I need to escape is for the rest of the crew to find me, get past the people with guns, and dismantle a large conspiracy between high-ranking government officials and BICES. What could be easier?


message 14: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Yeah I felt the first one was more of the tone of the book too. I appreciate all the help, querying was definitely something I was new too, so thanks for all the advice.


message 15: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Happy to help.

Be sure to let us know if you get success.


message 16: by Andrew (new)

Andrew Nunno | 17 comments Will do!


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