Beta Reader Group discussion

13 views
Covers, Blurbs, 1st Line, Query > Need help with my Query! NA Urban Fantasy

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

message 1: by Alexa (new)

Alexa K. (alexa_k) | 29 comments Dear NAME,

After losing her mother at the age of eight, twenty-one-year-old Millicent Kale is struggling with a constant headache and excruciating nightmares. When life finally becomes a close-to-normal routine, Millicent's boss and only friend, Mrs. Griffin, decides to retire. While this is shocking news, an even bigger shock is to find out that Mrs. Griffin dies shortly after retiring. Grief and pain overwhelm Millicent, this is the last drop before a breakdown and next thing she knows - she split her mind, a physical duplicate appearing out of nowhere.

While Millicent tries to figure out what had happened and what to do next, there are other dangers surrounding her. Good thing that Dean Write is there to protect her and save the day, even when she doesn't really need the help.

After another failed attempt on her life, Millicent's secret gets discovered by Dean and that's only the beginning of their mutual adventure. There's a killer on the loose and they need to find him. Easier said than done, it's hard to concentrate when you’ve practically fallen in love with your partner and new boss.

Special Minds is a new adult novel, at just over 66,000 words and partly took inspiration from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead with its mental/magical bonds. Special Minds is my first written novel and the first in a trilogy, it might interest you that I am also currently working on the sequel - Chaotic Mind. Upon your request, I am prepared to send the complete manuscript of Special Minds.

Note: I previously tried to self-publish a raw version of the novel yet due to my geographical location it didn’t quite work out, apparently Amazon doesn’t fully work in Kazakhstan. This was one of the reasons I completely reworked Special Minds and redrafted it many times until it became the best possible version to traditionally publish it in the end. While it was "kinda self-published" (I noticed only a month later that it didn't go through and never got published on Amazon) it got a few positive reviews from bloggers I connected with, saying “this is a concept which is very original and thought-provoking” and “Special Minds is a really unique story, with a concept that's new, refreshing and totally unlike anything I've read before!”

Thank you for taking the time to consider representing my work. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
CONTACTS

Synopsis:
MILLICENT (21) is being followed by death, headaches, and nightmares since the age of eight and now lives in solitude. She is working as a personal assistant at a real estate company in Seattle with MRS. GRIFFIN, the boss, being her only friend. Seeing that pain is the only constant in Millicent’s life, control is the only thing she seeks.

Mrs. Griffin retires and, shortly after, dies. Millicent splits her mind and a real, physical duplicate appears. Naturally, Millicent is confused, shocked, and even considers herself crazy at first.

While Millicent tries to figure out her new life as a non-human being, her new boss and humorous multimillionaire, DEAN WRITE (26), is preparing her to take over the company. Millicent believes that hating Dean is the easiest way to handle their professional relationship when in reality she is slowly falling for him.

On a business trip to New York, they have a fight and it shows that Millicent cares about Dean more than she likes to admit. Dean, on the other hand, is openly showing his emotions now.

Back in Seattle Millicent stays late at work and is attacked on the walk back home. She manages to get out of the situation yet when Dean appears to help, he finds out her secret. Later that evening it turns out that Dean is just like Millicent, with a duplicate of his own. They spend the night drinking tequila and bonding over their common madness.

Time passes and at some point, Dean and Millicent can't fight their mutual feelings any longer. They get together and it’s as if they were destined to be a couple.

Millicent gets infected with a rare poison which is mainly used to kill their kind. Dean manages to save her with an antidote made from his blood and takes her home (his hotel suite) after four days spent in the hospital.

That night they get a visit from MAX SHANE, a sleazy ex-coworker. He was fired by Dean on Millicent's behalf and now seeks revenge on her. He was the one who poisoned Millicent and came to finish the job. Dean shoots him before Max can harm anyone else and gets him arrested.

When everything seems to go back to normal and a wedding is being planned, Millicent receives a letter from Mrs. Griffin. This letter has a hidden address and Millicent doesn’t think twice before following it. She believes that the letter really is from Griffin and overlooks the fact that it could be a trap, thinking that this address holds all the answers to her special condition.

Dean and the duplicates chase her down but it’s too late. Millicent is already on the threshold of a house in the middle of the woods when they arrive. No one could even imagine finding who really stands behind the door.
MILLICENT (21) is being followed by death, headaches, and nightmares since the age of eight and now lives in solitude. She is working as a personal assistant at a real estate company in Seattle with MRS. GRIFFIN, the boss, being her only friend. Seeing that pain is the only constant in Millicent’s life, control is the only thing she seeks.

Mrs. Griffin retires and, shortly after, dies. Millicent splits her mind and a real, physical duplicate appears. Naturally, Millicent is confused, shocked, and even considers herself crazy at first.

While Millicent tries to figure out her new life as a non-human being, her new boss and humorous multimillionaire, DEAN WRITE (26), is preparing her to take over the company. Millicent believes that hating Dean is the easiest way to handle their professional relationship when in reality she is slowly falling for him.

On a business trip to New York, they have a fight and it shows that Millicent cares about Dean more than she likes to admit. Dean, on the other hand, is openly showing his emotions now.

Back in Seattle Millicent stays late at work and is attacked on the walk back home. She manages to get out of the situation yet when Dean appears to help, he finds out her secret. Later that evening it turns out that Dean is just like Millicent, with a duplicate of his own. They spend the night drinking tequila and bonding over their common madness.

Time passes and at some point, Dean and Millicent can't fight their mutual feelings any longer. They get together and it’s as if they were destined to be a couple.

Millicent gets infected with a rare poison which is mainly used to kill their kind. Dean manages to save her with an antidote made from his blood and takes her home (his hotel suite) after four days spent in the hospital.

That night they get a visit from MAX SHANE, a sleazy ex-coworker. He was fired by Dean on Millicent's behalf and now seeks revenge on her. He was the one who poisoned Millicent and came to finish the job. Dean shoots him before Max can harm anyone else and gets him arrested.

When everything seems to go back to normal and a wedding is being planned, Millicent receives a letter from Mrs. Griffin. This letter has a hidden address and Millicent doesn’t think twice before following it. She believes that the letter really is from Griffin and overlooks the fact that it could be a trap, thinking that this address holds all the answers to her special condition.

Dean and the duplicates chase her down but it’s too late. Millicent is already on the threshold of a house in the middle of the woods when they arrive. No one could even imagine finding who really stands behind the door.


message 2: by Keith (new)

Keith Oxenrider (mitakeet) | 1166 comments You use the same back-of-the-book blurb for the query as you would for the novel proper. What you have reads more like a synopsis than a blurb and is, frankly, boring (at least to me). And the supposed sweet spot for blurbs is 100-150 words and yours clocks in at 184.

You include the synopsis here, but never include anything other than exactly what the agent/publisher wants else expect summary rejection (and realize that no answer means no interest).

Your synopsis, btw (didn't read), should be between 350 and 500 words, unless requested longer. 'Officially' one page is 250 words and synopses are generally expected to be 1-2 pages. Oh, did read the last two paragraphs: synopses contain spoilers. If your novel ends without revealing who's behind the door, then you're right to end it that way, but that leads to another issue. While agents/publishers love the _idea_ of a series, they generally expect the first to have a clean ending. That way, if sales don't justify continuing the series, readers are still satisfied. If your first ends with a cliffhanger, your novel would have to be so amazing that the publisher would want to market it as a package.

There's little value in pointing out to anyone that you've previously published the work. Be prepared to respond, but I think bringing it up just makes them vastly less likely to ask for your MS. Agents get hundreds of these each week, so you generally get 10-30 seconds of their time and they're always looking for reasons to say 'no.' You want to minimize the reasons for them to come up with that decision.

It's also a good idea to have a sentence or so personalizing each query to the agent/publisher. The point of this is to show you've done your due diligence and aren't just firing them off to all and sundry.


message 3: by L.C. (new)

L.C. Perry | 45 comments Hey Allie! I'll help you out :)

Ok, so first off, try focusing more on grabbing their attention immediately with the first part of your query. Don't focus on backstory and don't be too vague. I fail to see why we need to know that she lost her mother at eight in the query and why it's a shock for her friend to retire. Don't waste precious query space for unnecessary details. You could say instead, "After years of grieving over her mother, and now for her closest friend, Millicent has reached her limit." See how that's more condensed and to the point?

The last sentence of your first paragraph confuses me. Split her mind? What exactly does that mean? Split personality? If agents are already confused by the first paragraph, some of them will not continue reading the rest of the query. When you say "dangers surrounding her" what does that mean? Try to be specific with what she's up against. A MAJOR thing agents want to know in the query are what are the stakes in your story?

Include a bio in your query. Tell them a little bit about yourself and your writing credentials. This is important. I also think it's pretty risky to include a note telling them your reasoning for self-publishing. First of all, I just want you to be prepared - it'll be veryyy hard to find an agent for a self-published book. There are agents that are open to it, but they usually won't take on a self-published book unless it has amazing sales. I know you want to include a note to explain the reasons for why it didn't do so well, but that might work against you. It also takes up query space. I would advise trying to incorporate some of your note into your bio. Leave some of those details out and focus more on the story you're pitching.

With your synopsis, this is where you need to give agents all of the spoilers. Anything that's interesting or unique about your story, make sure it shows up in your synopsis. They want to know what happens from beginning to end, but make sure the synopsis isn't too long. Ideally, you want to have a synopsis that is 1-2pgs long. Sometimes up to 5pgs depending on the agent.

Also, avoid comma splices. If agents see grammatical errors in your query, they may be more likely to put it aside because they might think you didn't properly edit it. Hope this helps! Let me know if you have any questions :)


message 4: by Alexa (new)

Alexa K. (alexa_k) | 29 comments L.C. wrote: "Hey Allie! I'll help you out :)

Ok, so first off, try focusing more on grabbing their attention immediately with the first part of your query. Don't focus on backstory and don't be too vague. I fa..."


Thank you so much! I see what you mean with grieving, totally makes sense! And thanks for the note about the bio, but should I really do that if I have never published anything?


message 5: by L.C. (new)

L.C. Perry | 45 comments Yes, you definitely still want to include a bio. I've heard from many agents that it's okay not to have writing credentials. They still want to know a little about you :)


message 6: by Alexa (new)

Alexa K. (alexa_k) | 29 comments L.C. wrote: "Yes, you definitely still want to include a bio. I've heard from many agents that it's okay not to have writing credentials. They still want to know a little about you :)"

Wow, really? Thank you so much! That I didn't know


message 7: by Erika (last edited Sep 11, 2019 09:32AM) (new)

Erika Winterlia (marleene) | 25 comments I'm only focusing on the query here.

I think it sounds like an interesting premise and it definitely intrigues me, but your query feels way too long with too much information that doesn't really feel necessary. On one hand you're giving away too much, on the other you're making it confusing and a little hard to read. Narrow it down, focus on the important things and don't say the same thing several times. The stakes need to be clear, but I think they get lost in all of the dangers that seems to surround this person.

A few notes here:

After losing her mother at the age of eight, twenty-one-year-old Millicent Kale is struggling with a constant headache and excruciating nightmares. When life finally becomes a close-to-normal routine, Millicent's boss and only friend, Mrs. Griffin, decides to retire. While this is shocking news, an even bigger shock is to find out that Mrs. Griffin dies shortly after retiring. Grief and pain overwhelm Millicent, this is the last drop before a breakdown and next thing she knows - she split her mind, a physical duplicate appearing out of nowhere.
[I think this part is way too long and you loose the good part in a labyrinth of words here. First it gets a bit odd to read two numbers after each other in the beginning. I'd suggest not telling us how old your MC is here. But the biggest "problem" here is that you focus too much on Mrs. Griffin. We don't need to know that she retired because that wasn't the trigger here. Her death is what seems to be triggering this, so that's what you should focus on. And then move on from that and share the hook--that your MC actually splits in two (?)]

While Millicent tries to figure out what had happened and what to do next, there are other dangers surrounding her. Good thing that Dean Write is there to protect her and save the day, even when she doesn't really need the help.
[This is too vague. How is she trying to figure out what has happened and what to do? And what are the dangers around her? Also, that Dean guy is introduced in a strange way here and he doesn't seem important at all.]


After another failed attempt on her life, Millicent's secret gets discovered by Dean and that's only the beginning of their mutual adventure. There's a killer on the loose and they need to find him. Easier said than done, it's hard to concentrate when you’ve practically fallen in love with your partner and new boss.
[The second attempt on her life? When did the first one happen? That seems important. Who's the killer on the loose? How did they find out about him? Why do they need to find him? Also, this seems to happen a little later in the story, and I feel like you might be giving away too much of your novel here. I'd share information to the point of the inciting incident and then just a little further to show the consequence of the inciting incident. Which I feel like is the fact that her mind splits. So share that and then what that causes and what she needs to do to fix it.]

Special Minds is a new adult novel, at just over 66,000 words and partly took inspiration from the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead with its mental/magical bonds. Special Minds is my first written novel and the first in a trilogy, it might interest you that I am also currently working on the sequel - Chaotic Mind. Upon your request, I am prepared to send the complete manuscript of Special Minds.
[Do not mention that it's your first written novel, nor that you're already working on the sequel. Just mention that it's part of a planned trilogy.]

Note: I previously tried to self-publish a raw version of the novel yet due to my geographical location it didn’t quite work out, apparently Amazon doesn’t fully work in Kazakhstan. This was one of the reasons I completely reworked Special Minds and redrafted it many times until it became the best possible version to traditionally publish it in the end. While it was "kinda self-published" (I noticed only a month later that it didn't go through and never got published on Amazon) it got a few positive reviews from bloggers I connected with, saying “this is a concept which is very original and thought-provoking” and “Special Minds is a really unique story, with a concept that's new, refreshing and totally unlike anything I've read before!”
[I'm not sure if this is a note for us here on Goodreads or if this is actually part of the query, but if it's the latter, remove it. Don't share this information with an agent/publisher. Agents don't want to represent books that have been previously self-published, and may interpret this as being just that. Also, they will not care that you have had a few people like the book, they want to be sold on the book itself and not the likes of others. Therefore, you're better off selling the premise of the book rather than explaining that other liked it and that you're working on sequels etc.]

---
An example of how I’d put it:

Millicent Kale is used to constant headaches and excruciating nightmares, and she had built her life around it, finally reaching a close-to-normal routine. But when Millicent's boss and only friend, Mrs. Griffin, dies shortly after retiring, grief and pain overwhelms Millicent, sending her into a downward spiral. The next thing she knows—her mind splits, and a physical duplicate appears out of nowhere.

[Here we need to know what happened AFTER the split. What did the other Millicent do? What’s her role in the story? What’s the stakes here? This is where Millicents “new world” appears and we need to know what that means and what the problem with this new world is and why it needs to be changed. ]

Here’s a completely made-up continuation since I have no idea what really happened despite reading the synopsis:

Having two bodies might sound like an interesting opportunity, but not when her non-human forms attracts unwanted attention and she’s forced to spend her days with new boss Dean Write to avoid discovery. Millicent has hated him from day one, but when he appears out of nowhere and rescues her from what appears to be a random attack, she learns he might know more than he lets on about her condition, and maybe he is the key back to a normal life. Or perhaps the key to a better one.

Special Minds is a new adult novel complete at 66,000 words. SPECIAL MINDS is the first book in a planned trilogy and will appeal to fans of XXX and XXX. Upon your request, I can send the complete manuscript.



back to top