Beta Reader Group discussion

28 views
Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Historical Fiction Query WITH EDITS

Comments Showing 1-7 of 7 (7 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by ChessPawn (last edited Aug 06, 2018 01:51PM) (new)

ChessPawn | 140 comments **Thanks to all who commented. Here is a revised version**

REVISION:

I am seeking representation for my historical novel 'So Long as I Live', centering around a Polish pilot in the Second World War. [I’m confident my character driven story, and strong attention to historical detail, will be a great match for your interests.]*

Summer 1940: All that stands between Nazi Germany and control of Europe is a handful of Royal Air Force pilots. Among them is Tadeusz Stern, an ambitious Polish officer who left his occupied country for a second chance to fight for his homeland.

Yet there is more on Stern's mind than the worsening air battle and the fate of his distant country. Homesick, mistrusted by his British commanders, and alienated from his childhood friend and fellow pilot Kazimierz Piotrowski, Stern has become reliant on the comfort of morphine pills. What's more, his growing addiction jeapordises the tenuous romance he has found with Women's Air Force recruit Verity Lovegood.

Stern is determined to break his morphine dependence and survive the Battle of Britain as a victor, but his chances to save his life, salvage his honor, and fight for the homeland he loves are running out.

So Long as I Live is complete at 111k. The novel functions as a stand-alone, and additionally I am at work on two further novels containing the same characters.

I have a bachelor of arts degree in Slavic languages and literature from the University of Washington, with additional coursework in writing composition. In 2016-17, I studied Polish history at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

Thank you sincerely for your time and consideration.



*This will of course be varied a little due to the individual agent I am querying, to make it more personal.

Please let me know what you think could be improved on. Thanks!


message 2: by Carmen (new)

Carmen | 7 comments This query is way too long, and goes into too much detail about the story. It's also wise to refrain from ending the query with a question. Also, 111k words seems too lengthy. I think I would revise your book to make it a bit shorter. You hardly mention this Verity, though she does seem like a vital character.

Finally, it's hard to see what the stakes are for your main character. War is terrible and tough, but you need something more for the reader to be engaged. :)


message 3: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments Hey Chess,

I think it would be best to either put the title in quotes each time or to capitalize it, so it stands out better.

Your blurb is a little too long at 170 words when the supposed sweet spot is 100-150. I'm not feeling particularly compelled by your blurb. I know the story is full of action and drama, but the blurb makes me feel it's sleepy. Perhaps talk about dogfights or the frustrations of having to prove themselves to the British when they were already aces back in Poland or something.

As we've discussed before, I think it would be better to emphasize the role that Tadeusz' addiction plays, as it gradually consumes the story. I think you set up the reader with the wrong expectations the way the blurb is worded now.

I think you should mention if you feel the first can be stand-alone. While agents/publishers love the potential for a series, they generally don't want to have to commit to one with your debut.

Your bio makes it clear you have excellent credentials to pen a historical novel with those characters, but I'm not sure how important that would be to selling books. Based on my reading-about-queries, the bio is something that the publisher can use to sell your book to bookstores. I don't think it necessarily needs to be removed, but it might be worthwhile to trim it. Supposedly, publications that haven't been paid for aren't useful to list, same with blogs, unless you have lots of followers. And I'd save mentioning anything about any previous publication until after they've read your MS and want to represent you.

That being said, as I study successful queries (meaning those that get MS requests, as that's the only purpose of the query) there's no real trend in those that are successful. It's entirely possible that your bio could spark an interest in an agent.

Good luck!


message 4: by ChessPawn (new)

ChessPawn | 140 comments Carmen wrote: "This query is way too long, and goes into too much detail about the story. It's also wise to refrain from ending the query with a question. Also, 111k words seems too lengthy. I think I would revis..."

Thanks for your comment!


message 5: by ChessPawn (new)

ChessPawn | 140 comments Keith wrote: "Hey Chess,

I think it would be best to either put the title in quotes each time or to capitalize it, so it stands out better.

Your blurb is a little too long at 170 words when the supposed sweet ..."


Thanks for your comment. I tried to incorporate your thoughts into my revision


message 6: by L.C. (new)

L.C. Lee | 15 comments Just like your story the query letter needs a hook.
Maybe you could start off with: Tadeusz Stern, a Polish officer signed up to fight the Nazis that occupied his homeland, but instead found him fighting for his life through a haze of morphine addiction.
Just a side note: Do you know of group of Hussars that fought in black feathers with a no retreat policy?


message 7: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments I think it's better if you put the revised version in a new post on this thread. That way other people can see the evolution as you work on it.

LCLee's suggestion sounds like a good opening hook, but work in that Tadeusz is in Britain.

It's been a while, but I don't remember Kazimierz factoring largely in the story. Also, generally avoid naming characters that only show up once in a blurb (or synopsis). Use their function names instead (e.g., best friend). The same for Verity.

Other than that, I think this version works much better and puts the addiction front and center.


back to top